Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Fathers Day Special

Dear C,

This post is dedicated to you; the fabulous dad you are to our kids, the superhero they see in you, the smartest person they want to emulate, the one they adore day and night, the one they feel is working so hard for our family,the one they love having wrestling matches with, the one who is their forever ready partner at board games, the one whose bear hugs and kisses they look forward to, the one in whom they cannot find a mistake, the one they always want to be with…

Sorry this post is a little belated; as usual my laziness got the better of me…

Anyways heres wishing you a WONDERFUL FATHER'S DAY…The three of us are endlessly thankful for having you in our lives - We LoVe YoU tO bItS aNd PiEcEs…

Heres what your kids have to say about the wonderful fantabulous dad that you are -

From your dearie little 3 yr old Akhi:

He colored within the black lines for the first time. And he wrote a little message - he told me the message, I dictated the spellings and he wrote it. As it looks more like hieroglyphics ;), here is what he meant to tell you "To Nana, I miss you. I love you, I will buy you a car. You buy me a car."  The McQueen on his card is you and the two smileys on tops are your two little monsters.

From your dearie little 5 yr old Siddhu:

I don't have to really talk about his writing and drawings - they are all pretty self-explanatory. :)

Does God exist?

One day S asked us, "Why does Lord Ganesha have an elephant head?". To this C told him the entire story of how Lord Ganesha was created by Goddess Parvati until how Lord Shiva beheaded the small boy. At this point we changed the story to, 

"...Lord Shiva then asked his army to search for a dead elephant with its head towards the north. The soldiers went on a search and once they found such a dead elephant, they cut its head and put it on the neck of the little boy, Ganesha, whom Lord Shiva unknowingly beheaded. Lord Shiva then blew life into this new form. That is how Lord Ganesha came back to life this time with an an elephant's in stead of a human's head…" 

Today while waiting for our food at the restaurant, 

S: If they put a dead elephant on Lord Ganesha's head, did they sew/stitch the neck and the head? If yes, why can't we see any marks (like the ones mom has after her surgeries)? If the elephant is dead its eyes and other parts of the face will stop working, then how can Lord Ganesha see with those eyes that do not work? And human body tan/white/brown etc in color and elephants are grey in color, then how did Lord Ganesha's head become tan in color?

I tried to answer to the extent possible with answers like, "Once the head came onto Ganesha, Lord Shiva did magic and everything became normal etc etc.." But after having answered S's questions for a straight 3 yrs now (ever since he could talk), I knew S will not be satisfied. And I also knew that more of my answers will lead to more complicated questions. Noticing my plight C answered him thus, 

C: Gods and goddesses live in a different world. The rules, logic, science and all that stuff which is used on the earth does not apply to those in the God world. It is like a magical world.
S: Then how did Amma see God. 
Myself: I did not see God, Siddhu.
S: Yes, you saw. You saw Swami who is God. But he looks more human than the other gods in the story books.
C: That is called an incarnation. When the world becomes full of bad people, from the God World one God comes down onto earth in a form that humans will not be scared of. That one God will correct some people and when it is time to go back into the God World, that God goes back. That form which God takes when he is on the Earth is called incarnation.
S: Nana, then another question. First of all, how was God made? Like, was He made when the earth was made? before that? after that? did He have parents? If so, how did His parents come into existence? did He just some out of space? does God really exist?
C(tired) : Siddhu, of all our family members your PTP Thatha is highly educated. He reads a lot, much more than any of us. So, I think it is best to ask him. 
S: How come Amma you did not get any of these questions when you were a kid? Am I the only one with so many questions? 
Myself : I asked questions, but never about God, His existence etc. I grew up seeing my parents worship come Gods and goddesses and just believed that they were gods. And most of my childhood was spent in a boarding school where questioning delicate matters was not commonplace. But it is very good that you have questions - just get them answered - don't settle with answers that don't satisfy you. Listen to all the answers and decide what you want to believe. 

…and we went on talking about atheist and theists…

OMG! Answering S's questions sometimes make me question my very belief.  Lord Ganesha, please come to my rescue.

Any of you out there with ideas for satisfying a 5 yr old's curiosity about Indian Hindu mythology, please let me know.

June 26th, 2014 - A, a swimming SeaHorse

Last Thursday, A's swim teacher told us that he is very code to being in the second level. All he was lacking is consistency while doing kicks on back. After kicking on his back for a couple of minutes, he seems to wander away his legs in all possible directions. This makes him lose balance and A ends up laughing.  

Today (Thursday) while we were getting ready for swimming A said, "Amma, I am going to a new class because I am in the next level of swimming." To that I replied, "No dear. You are going to the same class. But you are doing extremely well and just need to be kicking for longer. And don't worry - you will soon be in the second level."

Ever since S went into the Dolphin level, S's class is at 5:30 pm; that means a half hour wait for A's class at 6:00 pm. That half hour A tests my patience to the utmost - walks away to the pool, starts crying when i tell him not to, grinds my feet with his shoes, sits only in my lap (not in the chair), does not want any reading , wants only one thing and that is to go swimming NOW!!!

So there we were at the swim school, S was done swimming. It was 6:00 pm and A been his swim. All the while I was secretly hoping that A goes to the second level today. It just would have been a wonderful feeling for my dear little A. Suddenly towards the end of his half hour swim, a teacher came by and assessed A. While I was eagerly watching, C was pretty relaxed to bothered about if A will go to the next level or not.  A seemed to do an excellent job with underwater bubbles, independent back float, independent kicks on back, ring retrieval from pool bottom, jump into water and swimming to the pool edge. And finally while in the changing rooms, C and S walked unto A and gave him his small little STARFISH badge… 

A made it to the second level of swimming at his swim school, SeaHorse. 

YAY!!!!! Time to Celebrate!!!!!

Per the three boys' request and a family tradition, we went to a local Italian eatery - the boys love love love Italian food, they can never get enough of it. True to our expectations, the food was phenomenal and the service was impeccable.

Another day came to a close just like that with wonderful moments turning into everlasting memories!

Love you to infinity and beyond, my dear boys…

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Swimming - Relaxed A and Excited S

S started off with Mr. Tim in the Starfish level (this is the first level) at Gold Medal Swim School in June 2013. His first few sessions were difficult. But once he lost his fear of water (under extreme circumstances detailed here) he just kept going. January 2014, he completed the Starfish level and started with Miss Liz in the SeaHorse level. And couple of weeks back he had his survival jump, a requirement to complete the SeaHorse level and move into the Dolphin level. Survival jump implies that the student jumps into the water in his regular clothing (shows included) and swims flipping on his back and front to the other end of the pool. S did a wonderful job and was promoted to the Dolphin level… 

HURRAY!!! Time to celebrate… Given his fear of water, I never thought he would like swimming, let alone love swimming…

On the other hand, A has been with Miss. Amy in the Starfish level ever since June 2013. Though we wonder when he will move into the next level, it is a stress buster to watch A in the pool. He relaxes (to the extent possible) during his swim class. To us who are watching from outside, it feels like he is happily sleeping on the water. Instead of keeping his legs straight to do a  back float, he bends them, curls them and puts them at right angles to the water too. Suddenly he just sits up on the water because of which he goes underwater, gets water into his eyes and nose and, finally laughs about it. In his last class, Miss Amy asked the head coach to see if he was ready for the next level. And the only thing he is missing right now is consistency. He swims on his back really well, but only when he feels like doing it; not if he is in a 'not listening' mode when he is asked to do it. Sadly, that does not work for the coach. So he still is in the first level, extremely close to the second…Right now A's temptation to perform well during his swim lesson is swim goggles - we promised him swim goggles if he moves into the second level.

Give A's love for water, I never thought it would take this long for A to move into the SeaHorse level. But then I understood being comfortable in (and under) water is totally different from being able to swim comfortably.

Eating meat - live and let live.

For those of you who directly came here, please read my previous posts related to this topic hereMore of S's conversations after he got to know that C eats meat. The one good thing happening from all of this is that he is beginning to understand the whole concept of Live and Let Live, a very important yet undermined personality trait...

April 2014 (at dinner time):
C and the boys were eatings eggs for dinner and I was eating some vegetables, when the following conversation took place:

S: Nana, serve Amma some eggs. 
C: Amma does not eat eggs. So she has will eat some other curry instead.
S: Why does not Amma eat eggs?
C: I do not know. I asked her to, but she does not.
S: May be Amma thinks that there is a chicken inside the egg. And since chicken is meat and she does not eat meat, thats why she does not eat eggs.
C: May be, I just am not sure. (These are C's typical answers)
S: No Nana, eggs are very healthy. Amma will be strong if she eats. Why don't you break one and show her that there is no chicken inside the egg.
C (more hungry than tired): Lets do it the next time we cook eggs, OK?
S (satisfied): Ok. :)

May 2014 (at Costco)
While waling past all the aisles in Costco, we were sampling the food that they usually keep at the different stalls. That day it was ravioli, cheese popcorn and crackers. C and A were walking ahead when C suddenly stopped at another tasting booth. Noticing that it was a salad with bacon pieces, he avoided it.
S: Nana, give me that food.
C: It has meat in it dear. May be some other item.
S: Then you eat it. You like meat, so why not?
C: That's Ok Siddhu. I will eat some other item. 
S: No Nana. You like meat. So, you should eat it. You should not stop eating just because I don't eat meat and I am with you. I won't feel bad. 
C: Its Ok raa. I don't like that item.
S: How do you know you do not like it until you eat it? Go, get some for yourself. Eat it. Its Ok, Nana.

….This went on between S and C for quite some time and none of us are sure how the conversation dwindled away. But by the time we were out of Costco, we were done with that conversation…

Cutie Little S! He just loves his dad so much but he does not know how to show it…Looks like he got his "Live and Let live" nature from his dad…

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One year into sunny Arizona - good or bad?

We make lots of choices in life. Most of the time we make a certain choice thinking that it is the best choice at that moment. Only time will tell if it really was the best one or not. I am the type of person who dwells a lot in the past; as in I think a lot if a decision I made earlier in life was the best one or not - trying to overcome this bad habit.

On that note, I thought, thought (actually over thought) and still think about our move from WI to AZ (detailed out in my post here) exactly one year ago. And finally am jotting down my thoughts in this post here.

We were a very well settled family in WI - few nice friends, wonderful preschool for the boys, excellent doctors and two very stable jobs for both of us. People asked me, "What more do I want?" And I only thought "settlement". I could never picture myself settling in Green Bay. And I thought if I will not take life into my hands and make the change, then nobody can help me. We were so scared to get caught up in that comfort zone, in that quagmire, that we did not want to have a second thought about moving out. So, we just took that leap and jumped at the first opportunity that we got to get out of that place. 

I do not have a job in AZ and immigration makes it very difficult for me to get employment here. Job offers have come and gone, but I could not start working due to immigration issues. And neither of us are able to estimate how much longer before I can start working. Paying for my school, taking care of family and sending kids to various activities has only made it tighter financially. And above all I am yet to see the ROI on my MBA (as I have another year to go). A masters education requires a lot of time and effort that I hardly find any time to spend with my family, let alone pursuing my personal interests like updating my boys' year books, planning family trips, updating my blog, work-outs and so on. So when I think on these lines, I feel that it was a bad decision.

But when I look at my children's development and the winter weather (:-P), it feels like a good move. S has finished Kindergarten (if we were in AZ he would have started KG this Fall). He lost his fear of water and swims all by himself (given his fear of water, this is in fact something we are extremely proud of); his Kumon teacher always tells me that he is much ahead of his school level. Both my boys go to Balvikas every Sunday and participate in sandwich making service every month. S learns tabla and tennis too. There are music lessons, painting lessons etc to enroll him into. We have not put him into these classes because of the time constraint due to my MBA evening classes. Hence there are lots of activities for children's development in AZ when compared to Green Bay.

Now-a-days, this battle of thoughts goes on in my head; sometimes I am in a very positive mood thinking everything happens for a reason. At other times I just feel like I am at the bottom of a pit. :(… One year into AZ and I still cannot say if this was a good decision or not.  I moved my entire family from WI to AZ just for one reason - did not look at Green Bay as a settlement place (my MBA was the chance that we found out of there). Is this worth it or not? Only time will tell... 

Lets see how all this ends up - as always only hoping for the best. The best for my boys, my husband, my family...

June 2013 - Snowy WI to Sunny AZ...

Exactly a year ago on June 9th, our entire family arrived at Arizona after an eventful road trip. For some background story as to why that move happened:

I was raised in a small town. I got wonderful education, but I lacked life skills - judging/trusting people, prioritizing self above others, how to talk in a given situation etc. This often landed me in trouble during my engineering days. My husband, my then boyfriend, tried to advise me on the same, but I just could not get it. Then I decided that I will live only in an urban environment. Luckily for me, my work took me only to cities - Hyderabad in India, LA and Minneapolis in the US. But in Oct of 2009 when I decided to quit work to be with my husband we moved to a small peaceful town, Green Bay in WI. As I discovered more about the place, I made up my mind that it was not the place where I wanted to raise my kids. I just wanted to be in a city where my children will have many choices, know their choices and choose wisely from amongst those (of course with parental guidance). Also, at the same time I wanted to pursue my MBA for that next career step. C too wanted to get out of there due to various reasons. All these put together, I looked for admissions and got selected into the Fall 2013 MBA program at WP Carey (ASU's School Of Business) at Tempe in Arizona. Again I left work to pursue further studies. Thus the move. 

We decided it would be a road trip of three days with two stops. The trip turned out to be eventful.

Day 1 - June 7th, 2013: We started off on time at 6 am. I got my first speeding ticket of $250. Apparently I was driving at 79 mph in a 65 mph freeway. OMG! Now that I think of it, Wi freeways too had 65 mph as the speed limit. :(. But the day ended really well. We checked into a wonderful hotel at Omaha in Nebraska. We found wonderful food to eat - Little A got to eat some okra, his favorite vegetable.

Day 2 - June 8th, 2013: Given the fact that C and I are late risers, we were surprised at the fact that we started off really early. Just only to lose time because of another of my great deed. C walked into a store to pick up some stuff and asked me to fill the tank. And very confidently, I filled in diesel in stead of gas. Luckily for me, I noticed it even before I started my engine. The first thing i did : remove my kids form the car , walk to the store and call for AAA. After a really long wait, our car was carried on one of those trailers and we were driven 30 miles on a freeway in one of those huge trucks. The kids just loved the truck ride. We lost around 7 hrs in the repair shop. Upon arriving at Denver, Colorado we checked into a really cheap hotel (as it was already late) and were just waiting to get out of there. 

Day 3 - June 9th, 2013 (Sunday): As other days, we had an early start. Caught a glimpse of the majestic mountains at Colorado and after a couple of hours notice the changing landscape - mountains to desert. And OMG! we got used to the subzero temperatures in Green Bay for the last 4 years that the desert heat was too much for us to take. We reached Chandler around 10 pm and were waiting to hit the sack.

I will never ever forget how thankful I am to my dearest little boys - 2yr old A and 4 yr old S. They were extremely well behaved during the entire trip. We took walking breaks at rest areas, read books, talked about containers/trucks/trailers, counted vehicles passing by, played various games, watched movies, listened to and sang songs and move all chatted a whole lot. In spite of controlled screen time  during the trip, my boys just did not fuss. A would get cranky when it was getting hotter but he would drift off into sleep or just talk to us...

Luckily we arranged to stay at our dear friend's house and then head our way the next day. Though our first impression of Arizona was not the best, it was definitely better than Green Bay. 

We enrolled the kids into swimming at a wonderful swim school, S into Kumon and above all I found a very nice spiritual center (Sai center) that we all visited every Sunday. Though Phoenix is abundant in temples, restaurants and outdoor activities; the anxiousness of how the year ahead would go by was far more than the excitement of a new place…