This and that

Okay. I have no idea what has happened to my intent to blog, this year. With everything that is going on, it’s really at the bottom of my to-do list. Even if I wanted to, I have no idea where to start. I am literally forcing myself to do this today. To write something and click the push button.

∗ Life, currently, is mainly focused on staying alive. Alive at work and home. Office hours, cooking, cleaning, kids activities and their homework, little me time I take for myself in the form of swimming and reading, that is it. That is all of what I am doing back to back, every day for the last couple of months.

Speaking of reading, I have read a bit in the past couple of weeks. I have bookishmuggle.com to thank for that. I pinged A and asked her for personal recommendations. When my mind is so distracted with work and personal stuff, it was so damn hard to focus on reading. She, however, picked the two best books for me. It was fast paced, easy to read and included a lot of dialogue, so I could stay focussed. So once I read Dark Matter and Vicious, I got into a rhythm, Now I find myself trying to stay awake at night to read. After that I finished Fantastic Beasts and where to find them screenplay, The Graveyard Book and currently reading To the bright edge of the world. 

Now that I have said it aloud, my book reading is going to be jinxed again. I know that.  😦 That’s what happens every time. Plus this time, there is even a reason. My project at work is getting to the prod/live stage tomorrow, and its going to keep me busy and my mind super stressed. I hate how I cannot separate work from personal life. Even my dreams are of work. I wake up constantly in the middle of the night, and most of the times, I am already thinking about work or having some work related dream. Those of you who can sleep well, I so envy you. 🙂

Coming to other ‘me’ activity, swimming is going good. With new schedule changes, my schedule took a hit and I am only going to swim now, once a week (Instead of 2-3 times a week, which was awesome). It’s still an activity I love very much. I am trying to build stamina so I can swim more than one lap in a stretch, but it’s just too hard for me. I must not give up.

Abhi and Achu are growing up and they are still so amazing. More challenging than before, but amazing. I have said this before, and I will say this again. Whoever said it that as kids grow up it gets easy, is lying. Physical work, may be. But overall, it does not. There are bigger and more important things to worry as kids grow-up. I long for those hard physical work days. They were much more fun that worrying about their attitude now. I know this is probably easier than the worries in the future. 🙂

Still though, they both drive me crazy in many many ways, but lots of things have changed too. Coming to accomplishments, they are amazing readers now. They both have learned to bike. Achu more than Abhi, in both cases. I was doing laundry this afternoon and noticed there was some 20 minutes of silence in the house. They were reading. Library is one of their favorite places. We checkout a crazy number of books. Because of the thousand or more kids books we have throughout the house, it’s a big task to find these library books every time. 🙂

They are also pretty good at writing now. I am teaching them math too. We are at double/triple digit additions and subtractions. Even if we all had a long day, we are trying to sit at least 2-3 times a week to practice. They are learning to swim as well. And that’s once activity they love. They have also enjoyed water time so much on our second Hawaii trip.

Here is Abhi at the library today. They spent about an hour, finding and reading books, while I happily read mine. Wish this time was part of our week routine.

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Thats few updates for now. Next few days are going to be crazy, I assume. I am waiting for Christmas break hoping days will get better.

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Just Keep Swimming

Today seems like a good day to force myself to write something to cheer me up. Off the topics that I want to write about, my parents trip this year, is definitely there at the top. But unfortunately, writing about that is going to make me sad. Because in the two and half months they were here, I didn’t have the day that I had today. The day where I question my life choices, my state of life and how life is moving with me constantly feeling lonely, not able to follow my choice of staying home for kids and the depression that results from all of this. If my parents did see me down, even for a bit, they would just come, talk and help me snap out of it.

I am watching this show now, Young & Hungry on Netflix, it’s a funny show. I see how this gal always has a best friend and ton of people to help her out, each time she gets into trouble. I know its made-up but we all need people like that in this world. How are we supposed to survive alone? It’s too hard.
Anyway, writing anymore about my parents trip today, will only drag my depression day into depression night. So I will have to go with the thing that bought me plenty of happiness and satisfaction over the last few months. Swimming. I am smiling already as I type now. 🙂

Learning to swim has been a longggggg dream of mine. I am very scared of water. Plus, not able to do things by myself is a biggest problem of mine. So, I never got around to enrolling myself for lessons. Finally I found someone who could go with me, and started taking couple of lessons. Given my fear of water (yes, even in 4 feet deep pool 🙂 ), and the way I am learning things, I struggled so much in my initial lessons and practice. I have to say, nothing comes to me easy. I have to work hard to get anything in my life. So I knew that despite my performance and fear in the initial lessons, I needed to keep going and keep practicing. And so, with or without company, I made it to the pool at least 2-3 times a week.

Over summer, I finally started to go to the pool by myself, again 2-3 times a week and I have come to SO LOVE it. Its my go-to thing now. If I could go every day, I would. I don’t know what it is. There is something amazing with water therapy. Many of the times, I go to the pool sleepy or tired, and I come out fresh and awake. The water is so good for mood therapy. 🙂

When it comes to practice, like I said, I struggled so much. To learn to be able to let go of fears and my brain working against floating or kicking, it took work for me. I amused a lot of people watching me swim in the pool – the way I would sink and come up, and keep going. 🙂 But the important thing you see is : I persisted. 🙂

Once I was able to comfortably float, I learnt to backstroke. And it is my go to style now. If I am tired with other things, I go to backstroke. Free style was the one that stressed me out mostly. For days, I would go there, and my mind wouldn’t let me go more than an arm rotation. I would panic so much and not even try. I even avoided going to the pool. This is where having company helped me. It was good to have some push from my friend and finally one day, I did a full lap without stopping and my joy knew no bounds. 😀

Having learnt few more techniques, most of my lap runs are half free style and half backstroke. I do squeeze in easy swims once in a while. I call this, Old Indian movie princess swim technique. You probably have seen one in movie and know what I am talking about. 🙂

I have to mention the amazing and surprising gain with swimming… hoping it wouldn’t get jinxed – Trimming fat around my hip and legs. Swimming takes work, no doubt. But I didn’t really imagine me getting some nice toning around my stomach. Since I gave birth, I havent felt some of these muscles that I could feel again now. Thank you Swimming. 🙂 This again, has been a huge motivator to keep me in the pool. 🙂

What I have established as a routine for me now, is to swim 20-30 laps each time. I am able to do this in 30 mins. I am really proud I can do this. But guess what I saw last weekend at the pool fitness exercise: Someone’s routine included warm-up, which is what I do * 5 times. And three sets of this. And this was only the warm-up. After this, there was a set which had crazy numbers and then a main Set with more crazier numbers. I couldn’t believe someone could do that. May be they are training for Iron Man. It is crazy. It is definitely motivating to see these folks or even others who have much better stamina than I do.

But I do fine by myself too, I should take credit for even getting here. Earlier months in the pool, I used to look at few people in the pool and silently wish I could swim like that. Guess what, I have folks stopping me once in a while to tell me I am swimming good and they wish they were swimming like me. I act humble and all, but that’s always nice to hear. LOL. I worked so hard to get here.

What else is wonderful with swimming… Thanks to the continued pool routine, my stamina is much better. This year, when I went hiking, I could go longer stretches without stopping. I also stepped into actual swimming clothes. I love that I am able to fit into one size small of these now. (Please don’t get jinxed, please don’t get jinxed 😉 ). Oh also, guys I meet at the pool, who have conversations with me – its fun to do that too. LOL, again. I recently bought a waterproof headphone set as well, and that’s helping too. Now, if we are travelling somewhere I find a hotel with pool, so kids and I can have extra fun.

While I can swim comfortably in a pool, I am still scared of deep waters. The only reason I can swim now is because I know I can stand whenever I want. Recently we were at a swim lake, and while I could try swim around and had my dad encouraging me, I chickened out and didn’t swim. Maybe I need someone to swim with me, so I have some help and am comfortable. Hmm, when will that happen!

Anyway, my win this year is learning to swim. It was my new year resolution for many years and I finally checked it off this year. I am super proud that I worked super hard to get to where I am right now. Touch wood, hopefully water continues to fix my mood like it does now and so I can stay sane. I am kind of wishing I was there right now. I am already dreaming of next time I am in Hawaii, I can be in the water feeling better. I will still wear my life jacket though. 😀

I don’t have any pictures of me in the pool, I only have an old video when I was learning free style, but I will post this instead here. I saw this at the store and I SO wish I can go swim here. 🙂

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So there you go, that’s all about my little victory.

Turning Six!!!

It’s taking couple of times for me, these days, to complete a post. This is my third attempt o finish this post. True, I come and update this line and number every time I start writing. 😆

Summer is almost done here, kids are heading back to school tomorrow. I can’t believe it. I say it so many times , but it’s so true. Time flies. It’s so scary. It just feels like yesterday I dropped them off for their first day of kindergarten. And see now, tomorrow they are heading to first grade.

And it’s just the same way I feel about how years are passing by. Abhi and Achu turned six in July.

Little more grownup and more conscious about their birthday, I let them celebrate the day with their friends. They decided fun was the theme of the party this year. (When isn’t it fun for these kids? 😊 )

This years birthday party was also the first time I chose to keep it low-budget and teach them about saving money. I told them they could pick three friends each, and so they did. Money wise, I also told them about budget, made them aware of how much we are spending for items we bought. Also told them that some money we don’t spend today is what they will be saving to use on their next Hawaii trip. I am not sure if it will be the same for their next birthdays, but this year, they agreed. 😃

So, in spirit of low budgeted fun theme birthday, we did extend the birthday to more than the day of the birthday. We went to watch a movie with Tatha and Pati. We watched Incredibles.

We went on a birthday hike, as well. This is probably the biggest accomplishment of the year. This is the second year I took them on this hike. It’s not natural for any kid to be motivated to walk long distances, so with some coaxing, they did fine. 😊

The day of the party, was all at our home. Kids friends arrived before lunch. I gave them all some play time before seeing lunch. For birthday lunch, I gave them couple of options, all home-made.

Post lunch was movie time. Kids actually jotted down couple of options for their friends. And Achu conducted a vote. Jumanji won. 😃 It was quite a sight to see all kids enjoying the movie.

The real fun began after the movie. We have a small inflatable pool that I kept ready for kiddos to play in, along with lots of water toys. It was such fun to hear the giggles and laughs; All the running around and water splashing.

I didn’t realize with kids pool party idea, that I would have so many kids to help clean up. 😃 Luckily my parents helped and we got everybody ready in time for cake cutting.

Abhi and Achu picked the cake themselves the day before. It was a swiss chocolate cake; This is them trying to convince each other what cake to buy. Couple of days ago when we were discussing what we want written on the cake, I said how about happy birthday Monkey and Puppy. And that stuck. I was totally joking when I suggested that, somehow kids went with it. 😊

After that, some of their friends started leaving but few stayed back and they all had good time chatting in the front yard.

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Birthday day also happened to be their swimming lesson, which they love and they got to do that fun thing as well. Temple and dinner later, birthday fun was done. 😊

I hope I made it good fun for them, and made them see we don’t always need to spend money to have fun. Of course now they have money saved to spend on our next trip, I jus hope they remember the lessons I am trying to teach them.

Picture Post

Because it is hard to write and a picture post is easy to do.

Starting with divine things. Doing the Satyanarayana Swamy Vratham has become an yearly ritual. While it usually happens in Winter time, this year, since my parents are here, I wanted to do this with them. Not only that they could participate, my dad officiated the pooja, so its extra special. 🙂

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Park trips have been made mandatory since last year, so this is another new thing for us. After dinner or in the morning, we drive them here every day. Luckily two parks near home have been renovated. One of them even had new ziplines installed, which kids love.

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Reading has taken a hit this Summer. I had lot of plans for kids Summer break, this year. But given that they are staying home full-time with grandparents, any kind of schedule is ruled out. Its free choice time always. But its nice to see them find a book and read for few minutes at least, all by themselves.

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Given the full day free choice time, I signed kids up for evening classes. So Monday and Thursday, they go to a Martial Arts class. Not sure what they are learning, but Achu is inventing her own moves. They both are signed up for Swimming class on Tuesdays which they love and is the only class, they actually want to go to. 🙂 Wednesday’s is music class, which again is not an exact favorite. But its nice to see Achu pickup few things here. She even performed a small bit in the temple with rest of her group.

When you are home for the whole Summer, its wonderful to have a playdate partner. Aka its wonderful to have twins or siblings to play with. Abhi and Achu spend most of their time together and come up with billion different creative ways to play. Here is them camping in the front yard. Not an usual choice, but its what they would do.

They even took this a step forward to camp here overnight. 🙂 I have to agree with them, this was fun. 🙂

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Achu organized a yard sale, selling things I paid money for. 😀 She sold few for pennies. While she went out of her way to roam around the neighborhood and tell people she is having a sale, luckily the only person who bought stuff was Abhi. Again with my money, buying our own toys. 😀

I took my parents and kiddos out to my office and then lunch at Commons. As if I didn’t have enough to do, Achu gave me this extra work.

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When I got back from London, I got kids this 500 piece London city jigsaw puzzle. Although kids lost interest , I found a new hobby. It took me a week to finish this, working on and off in the evenings. I went ahead and bought new puzzles and now this is my go-to thing at home. My latest one is a 1000 piece beach treasure fun.

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London Trip

I have a ton of things to write about. I am not sure what happened to my interest in blogging. I seem to have no interest whatsoever to write anything here. Maybe it’s that I am occupied with too many things in my head.

But I am here now, my third attempt, trying to finish this post. I thought about the top three things I could write about: Kiddos turning 6, my London trip or my progress with swimming lessons. Three are equally important to me right now, but I will choose my London trip. Because it was awesome and also included just me. 😊

And it was awesome for many reasons. When I was asked to go to London for a conference, I have to say, not only was I least interested, I was also terrified to travel outside the country. The state that we are in right now, with all the immigration issues going on, I wasn’t sure if I would come back. Even though there was absolutely no reason to think so. It’s the just the way things right now here are, I feel. Plus, I hate change. Travelling to a new country where I don’t know anything about anything, was a big change for me. But scratch all that for now. My visa process went super smooth, without any hiccups. And travelling to the place I knew nothing about, without any family, was awesome too. 😊

It surely helped that I was travelling with a colleague, but after a while that got annoying for silly reasons. Initially, we made plans on what to see where to see. Unknowingly, we made some good choices about where we stayed. Because the first hotel we stayed in, was so close to many of London’s top attractions, I had a super awesome sightseeing trip. Another best thing about London was the tube. Once I got the hang of it, I actually preferred to travel by myself.

Day 1, we landed Sunday afternoon, without thinking about jet lag or such 😊, we started walking to our destinations. London is so amazing, every building I got to see had this amazing architecture around it. That day, I visited the Parliament building, Big Ben, London eye, roamed some streets of London, Buckingham Palace, St James Park and Trafalgar Square. All in about 4 hours. My spirits that day were so good. I didn’t think sightseeing could be so good.

Day 2, I rode the tube for the first time. Did I mention it was awesome? I wasn’t the daily tube commuter, but the ease of getting from one place to another so quickly was wonderful. I wish every place we stay has this facility. Although I think, with kids, walking all the way to the underground stations wouldn’t be fun. Once I got the hang of the maps, figuring out which train to take, where to get down was so much fun. I like following old school maps. It was surprising to know London Bridge is actually a different bridge. One we commonly think of as London Bridge is Tower of London.

 

The day was getting hotter and after running few errands, next stop was Natural History Museum. And oh my, was it good? First of all, I love museums. Secondly I cherish alone museum time. And then there were all kinds of things I loved. It wasn’t just the artifacts in the museum that were good, it was the architecture of this place, that was amazing too. One could easily spend half a day here.

 

Day 3 and 4 were the conference I attended. Just like any, some were good sessions, some not so much. But we didn’t waste the evenings. Evening # 3, I visited Kings Cross Station to visit the famous Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4; Stood in line for 45 minutes and got what I wanted. It was soo good to be there, holding the wand, running the trolley into the wall  😀

Evening #4, was Piccadilly Square, walking along the beautiful streets, some shopping.

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Next two days was the time I roamed by myself and loved every minute of it. Day 5, I got to British museum. I swear by this day, I felt like a zombie. Despite being jet lagged, not having much to eat and not enough sleep, I still pushed myself to walk all over the museum. My legs were killing and I kept going. All for the love of museums. I cherish some wonderful things I saw here. Especially anything Egyptian. Seeing Amaravathi statues was a nice surprise. I haven’t seen them in India yet. I was wondering if I could tour the real Amaravathi by myself like this, realized no way I could. So was so glad to peacefully enjoy them here.

Rest of the day #5 was walking as well. This time visiting a BEAUTIFUL St Paul’s cathedral. I am a big fan of churches or temples for their architecture and this one blew my mind. We were not supposed to take pics, but I tell you a picture wouldn’t do justice. You have to be there. The inner dome is so big. They have one way not-for- claustrophobics stair case to reach the top. It was hard to get to different levels. (especially with the state of my legs that week 🙂 ) But it was so worth it. Getting so high and close to the top of dome, you could see the architecture even more closely. It was amazing. Here is  a pic from the internet. 🙂 See the tiny circle on the top with three tiny windows, that’s where you can get to.

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The stairs also open up to the outdoor view of London. Again, so worth it. 🙂

Day 6, I had a packed day as well. First visit was to Westminster Abbey. Another beautiful place of worship. But I have to say, after seeing St Paul’s Cathedral, this one seemed like a very simple church. 🙂 It was still very beautiful.

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Having changed my afternoon plan to skip Windsor Castle, I made the trip to The National Gallery. I don’t know what I missed with the castle trip, but the gallery trip was so worth it. I will say this again, with my legs killing me, I covered the whole gallery. It was that good.

I happened to find a good Indian vegetarian place after my gallery trip and I think this is the first time I ate well in the week.

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Next day was my flight back. It was mainly packing and saying good-bye to the place and the trip I loved a lot. I did do some quick and cheap gifts shopping. And you know the two tops I bought for around $10 are my favorite things now. 🙂

May be it was me travelling alone, I loved the airport trip back home. I ended walking all around LHR helping a lady who was scared, travelling alone and didn’t speak the language. When she found out I spoke her language, her face just lit up and she wouldn’t go two steps away from me 🙂 . Poor thing. I got her safely to where she needed to go and went my way.

My colleague and I, for the first two days of our trip, randomly would end up talking about kids and what would it be if they were here etc. Then we made a rule to enjoy our me time without the kids and not talk about the kids. 😊 We were only partially successful. 🙂 But I have to say, this trip made me realize it is okay to enjoy without having kids around. A place like London, with all its beautiful architecture, kids wouldn’t have enjoyed it that much. But I surely did it. I am surely thinking about making a trip without kids a yearly thing. I just have to find people to go with me. 😊

Another wonderful thing about the trip was, it made me realize, despite it being a short trip, that I can survive on my own. Another surprising realization that came to me was that I actually like doing things by myself. If you knew me from couple of years ago, you would completely surprised by what I just said. I was that dependent on people. 😊 I still think about the last stretch of my trip. I didn’t have good food to eat, haven’t slept more than 4-5 hours a night, my legs were killing me and I still LOVED the alone museum time I got. It was wonderful. This trip is easily the best one week of my life in recent times. It turned out, I am a wonderful company to myself. LOL. 🙂

The trip did boost confidence in me. I find myself ready to do little risky things that I wasn’t okay to do before. At least I don’t think so much now. I am looking forward to my next trip. May be Paris? Its time to start learning a new language then.

So that was my amazing trip and the wonderful time I had. Surely a memory I will cherish for a long time. 🙂

The one where I pretend like I wasn’t MIA for months

So this happened this evening. I have been planning to writing about Abhi and Achus latest love -playing tic tac toe. Possibly playing at their after care school, they got the hang of it and now we play it everywhere. In the front yard on the pavement, backyard, our driveway, every paper they can get hold of. It’s amazing how much they like it now.

This is yesterday night- one of things they do is pickup a book from around the shelf, open and play tic tac toe inside the book. Whatever open space they can find, they use it.

Our front yard gets decorated with the game like it’s rangoli time.

So this evening I go to cuddle with kids at bed time. Today was surprisingly no tic tac toe night. Today was singing night.

Achu gets to sit on the bed edge, in her green sleeveless dress, messy hair which she doesn’t let me comb or tie. She tells me she wrote a song. So I ask her to sing but she is shy. Some coaxing later, she agrees to. And she sings. It’s based on the Shape of You, which she apparently heard somewhere.

Hey, I am in love with the shape of you. You look like you supposed to. I really need you. Oh common, I am in love with the shape of you.

Of course not remembering the original tune, she sings in her own tune. She definitely got Murali’s genes in that respect. She sings good. 😃

And then I chose to play her the actual song and we had a little dance party.

Abhi has this cute dance moves which he calls dab. He made up baby, mini and big versions of dab and he performed for us.

…. and all of a sudden I realized how many sweet memories like this I am forgetting because I am not recording them.

Growing Up

Its been ages I wrote anything about what Abhi and Achu are up to these days. Limited time I get these days to write here is spent in catch-ups so that I don’t lose my memories. Today, I will try to write about kids.

I had this post I wanted to write about how kids are grown up now. comparatively, I mean. I still remember the first time Achu threw up in the rest room instead of wherever she was. She said she had to throw up. Got up from her bed, walked with me to the restroom. Saved us a ton of cleaning. While there are so many moments, I felt that was the first time it occurred to me, the baby days don’t last for ever. The same time, Abhi was just throwing up when needed, wherever he was, without any control, so I realized these small things are not to be taken for granted.

That was probably a year or two ago, can’t even remember. Now, it’s all much more grown-up.

This was Achu yesterday night. I asked her to go sleep. And she goes, “Why do you always ask me to go sleep? Do you think its my favorite thing? Oh yes. I do. I loveeeee sleeping”. I listened to that comment and was laughing, when she comes back and says, “I was being sarcasticcccc”. My five-year old understands sarcasm. How grown up is that. 🙂

Abhi and Achu’s relationship has grown up too. When they were 3 or so, they wouldn’t play with each other much. But in the last year or so, they have become really good at being partners in play. Their favorite word is “Pretend”. Every time they are playing together, this is the word I hear a zillion times. Their pretend play and imagination has no bounds. And its wonderful. But, there is also ton of fighting, these days. For silliest of things. 🙂

Getting ready and getting out home has been easy and challenging at the same time.  They get dressed themselves, but the closets are the messiest. They insist on eating on their own, food is everywhere. It only takes us a 100 turns to get these two to go out in the car. But we do go out. Long gone are the worries if kids are dressed warmly for weather outside. They decide and apparently form “opinions” about what they need for the day. 🙂

We have gone a bit of hiking since last summer. And this one strikes me again, no more holding babies, no more strollers. We haven’t touched the stroller in months. They complain too, but they still walk. And hike. I m so proud of them when they come on a hike with us.

Growing up is not always easy though. Now is the time for developing that attitude, friends you hang out with, learn new words and ways. Its good sometimes. Sometimes, not so much.

Whatever stage they are at, I think kids are growing up way too fast. They will be 6 years old in July and I can’t believe that. 🙂