Thursday, February 22, 2018

Kids say the darnest things... or the cutest things!

Its been a while since I have posted, been busy and a little pre-occupied!
But the best way to get back into the writing mode is to just do it and humor makes it easier!
So Kids Say the darnest things edition

Story number 1:
Little Lady and Miss Chatterbox are currently learning Hindi and with my mom in town, the immersion with the language has been easier for sure.
A lazy Sunday Morning, Little Lady is chatting with her cousin in India and conversion in Hindi.
---Conversation in Hindi---
Cousin from India: Appka Favorite color kya hain?
Little Lady: Mera sabse acha rang 'Sunehra' hain!
-----End of Conversation----

We all here and in India burst out laughing, no one uses the word 'Sunehra' any more. And my mom was super proud: 'My work here of making them puritan's of the language is done!

Story number 2:
Now, Chicago is a windy city, and yes the winters get really cold. But we have been in this city for about a decade and kind of have gotten used to it.

A morning drive:
Little Lady: Mummy, its only 35 F today, its so warm today!
Me: Yes, but slightly chilly still, so you need your jackets/
Little Lady: It's Chicago, so 35F is warm!

I guess she has learned to find the silver lining already!

As I navigate the waters of being a mother of a 10 year old and 5 year old, life is always fun, sometimes funny and a lot of times I do have a Deer in Headlight moment!
The one thing that helps me keep sane (sort of) is finding this silver lining in life!

Find your world through the rose tinted glasses, it makes you smile.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Day 2: Great wall of China... Kids Edition

China tales continue...... See here for our Day 1, Our itinerary and some pointers before travelling to china with kids

"Great Wall", this remains the unanimous highlight of the entire trip of 14!
The older kids of course knew what the "hoo haah" was about... and the little ones, well were just sharing the excitement.

The day started with a trip to the Jade Museum and it was as touristy as it sounds. But we did find an amazing hidden 'picturesque' spot and of course the photo taking began and we had to pull everyone back in the bus saying "enough with the pictures man!" But it's never enough!

As the roads winded to the Great Wall, all guests were gasping and oohing and aahing. It's much bigger than any picture you may have seen, its more mesmerizing and the mystery of why it was build in the first place leaves you asking more questions! We got off, geared up, bundled up and started the "hike"

My nephew, 2.5 years of age is super active and believes in running more than walking, so rightfully so, my brother and sister in law decided to enjoy the foot hills of the wall and just catch a breath! The rest of us started the 'trek'

What a trek it was!! The steps are high, uneven and rough, but it inspires you to climb more and conquer this wall.

My friend bundled her baby on one of those carriers and climbed up... yes all the way to the top. God bless her soul. She did more than any of us combined.
The hike and the climb to the top is worth it. We were blessed with great weather and the higher we climber, the stronger the sun got and more layers came off. The kids were competing with one another, and definitely my friend (fittest of us all) kept up to their speed and reached the top.
Please do this hike with your kids. Please do, yes you will be slower, they might complain, carry water, candies and hats, but please hike up. The sense of achievement my 5 year old, Little Lady felt was amazing, she still recants with utmost pride! My Chatterbox has hiked plenty before this, but I feel the amazement of a man made wonder with such rich history left her speechless!

The views, well a picture speaks a thousand words.

Our descend was of course quicker and honestly more "treacherous". We paired up and climbed down and again, my friend had the baby tied to her back... I think she deserves a standing ovation or a really nice leg massage!!! Of course I came down to my nephew jumping with joy and giving us high fives! The sweet innocence.

After a traditional Chinese lunch, we returned back to the hotel, by now, bone tired. But again, the "rule breakers" that we are... we all had had our own experiences to make that evening! One family went on to see a mesmerizing show of the dynasty. One family decided to stay back and just enjoy down time with the kids and do local shopping and well the rest of us, once again boarded the local train and headed to the silk market. And we had fresh orange juice from a vending machine, yes FRESH. I have a video to prove it and content kids to talk about it with!

The market itself, what an experience! I don't think I have it in me to bargain or withstand the aggressive selling they do!

The ladies were done in for the evening, imagine, girls saying no for shopping!!
We took a cab home with the kids and pretty much collapsed after some food and packing up. Sumit and our friend returned victorious after some more shopping and finding an Indian restaurant with delicious food, yep, I was jealous!

The next day was an early start to check out, head to a medicinal museum, Summer Palace and then onwards to Shanghai-Wuxi. We bid adieu to this city, the old and the new!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A decade old.... or a decade young!

Miss V, my Chatterbox, my wonderful, my kid who continues to amaze me (and push her limits):  You are officially a decade young old

Yes, you are 10, in double digits and oh man, where did the time go!

This day, ten years ago: My doctor says: Your child is ready to come in the world and I say, hell no, I have 2 more weeks left and above all, I just dropped off Sumit at airport for his work travels! Nope, the doctor says, the kid is coming in 2 days!
Oh well, I call hubby dearest as he gets off the plane across the country! "Yes honey, you heard me right, come back by tomorrow"

He returned, my mom calmed me down and I went in at 7 am to the hospital!
At 10 am, my doctor tells me: "Ma'm, you are about to have a baby, please keep the blackberry aside. " I chuckle... and then around 5 pm, Miss V arrives. A girl! A beautiful perfect girl!

That was a decade ago!
Miss V you are ten! You are entering "Double Digits"

You are fierceless, you take on challenges, you are a perfectionist and above all you are a girl who wants to change the world and challenge the norms and at the same time your sensitivity and your attempts at not crying to be 'strong' leave me dumbfounded!

You love to help me cook and yet are forced to lay the table and clean up!
You are creative and have yet have a sucky handwriting.
You love to read and yet hate to document a book report.
You are religious and yet question some values preached.
You are you, sweet cheeks (Yes I know you hate to be called 'sweet cheeks")

You are my daughter. And I could not be prouder!

Here are your ten highlights!

1. You donated 12 inches of your hair for Wigs for Kids and smiled!
2. You are a fish, competing, learning and swimming.
3. Soccer remains your true love and you now have jerseys of your favorite teams/ players. And now our dearest friend costum made a soccer necklace with your name engraved!
4. The writer in you is shining and man your narration leaves us spell bound
5. You have taken on Kathak and I am impressed with your dedication to this classical form
6. You are happiest while travelling, be it swimming in El Nido or hiking the Great Wall
7. Oh yes, you are competitive. Even in the smallest things, you like a challenge
8. You kick my ass in scrabble, not fair!
9. With your sister, you half adore her, half fight with her but you are 100% by her all the time!
10. You truly are amazing (even with the eyerolls, the subtle drama, the stomping of feet, the misty eyes, the soft snuggles)

Miss V, Miss Chatterbox: Welcome to double digits!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Imperfect evening!

With the spouse travelling, I am manning the fort, which honestly is generally I sometimes look forward to.
Magically things happen on time, kids have enough time in the evenings to squeeze in a board game, or read a book together and more often than not, I am snoring away at 9 pm with stuff sorted for next morning. Yes of course, I miss Sumit!!!

One such evening however, was a DISASTER. A funny disaster, and so I had to share....
Pick ups went smoother than normal, we actually came home prior to swim class for kids to chill and for me to prep dinner!

Debacle 1: The pressure cooker leaked massively covering my kitchen counter, floor and back splash with daal, imagine a slippery yellow slime 'everywhere'!

Debacle 2: Shortly after, I begin cleaning and managed to pick up the hot plate without realizing how hot it is, implying 'minor scream: its hot its hot' and fingers reddened up

I said, Done, lets head for swimming before some thing else!!!
We came back... and

Debacle 3: While unloading the jackets, i managed to hit a heavy box which plopped straight on my leg and again 'minor scream': my leg  my leg

It was comical, a minute later, the three chicas at home burst out laughing.
I messaged a dear friend saying, I give up for tonight!

Kids ate, plain old daal-chawaal, chuckled themselves to sleep.

I cleaned the debacles, iced my leg and hit the bed at 8:30 strategically before i wreck something else!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Day 1: Beijing the splendor of walking down history!

So lets do this....
I thought I will collect all pictures from the 4 families that traveled together to China, make pretty albums and then share the blog post.
Well that never happened, I have not even seen my own pictures yet!!!

But I should definitely get to writing about China, else, well I will forget!

Day 1: Beijing: Tianamen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong Tours

Our first destination was Beijing... we landed in the evening at our hotels right in the city center which for us "rule breakers" is amazing!!
Why "rule breakers?", i will get to it! I promise!

Day 1: Jet lag kicked in and we feasted on the breakfast at 6 am and had loads of coffee, fruits and local deliciousness.
Our first "touristy" thing to do was of course: Tianamen Square, Forbidden City!!
We boarded the bus, got our ear pieces ready and walked and walked. Tianamen Square has 109 acres and laden with square tiles and at any given time, it is claimed that over 100,000 soldiers can stand on those square tiles in uniform lines! that's magnificent and impressive. We walked, the kids were tired and jet lagged, it was cold, but we trudged along!

Took our favorite jumping shots, and moved on to Forbidden City.

All the "Silk Route" stories came to life. It was splendid. Our guide was well informed and above all would spin tales of luxury and comforts while us regular people would wonder, man!! At the same time the contrast of lives of the kings to their "servants" would shock us and really the disparity and lack of human respect would make us teary eyed.
I am glad this forbidden city's history is over and I can walk on the beautiful courtyards and remind my daughters, human life is human life, no one big, no one is small!!!

The architecture, the uniformity, the Feng shui elements and above all a courtyard with no drainage pipes (since the stones are laid out in 7 floors below the ground level and the drains are below the 7th level) amazed me the kind of engineering and ingenuity that era of builders had. It is a tour highly recommended, though touristy, it is just worth it!

The garden at the end of Forbidden city was just amazing. There was a local Chinese school trip and looking at those kids giggle at us, give us hi fives and respond with laughter when we greeted them with "Nee Hao" was one of the best experiences I feel. No matter what you look like, laughter is universal!

A little secret to surviving Forbidden City: Get a tour guide before hand and if you can take a private tour. In our group we had 40 people and the tour guide was good, it turned out to be more expensive and due to sheer size, we lost some elements!

We went for late lunch after and the vegetarians headed to Pizza Hut, my goodness, I have not had pizzas as good! There was also a dessert orange pizza. Who knew!

In the evening we returned and decided to take it a little easy which of course for us means, freshen up and back on the road! And here is where the rule breakers kick in..... but the "rule breakers" and explorers we are..... we looked up maps, took a local train and headed out for the Hutong tours. Hutong is "older Beijing" with narrow alleys, old houses and magnificent old school architecture.

This was an experience, since it involved us taking the wrong exit at the train station, being lost walking an hour in bitter cold with the kids and then eventually finding the place which resembled "A red lantern".... I mean that area was lined with karoake shops, pizza places dotted with dim sum houses under the iconic red lanterns of China under the willow trees.  Aaah, it was worth it!

The kids by now were beyond exhausted so a few of us headed back in cabs this time. I few of us hung out a bit more and then took the cabs back! I do wish we had taken the right exit to spend a little bit more time here, but I think being lost in the alleys, nudging the kids along a little more, avoiding their tantrums with candies and stories will be a memory! But these kids were the true stars of the day! After a 14 hour flight, a jet lagged morning, they pretty much stayed happy and enjoyed the process with us!

Of course, we returned to our hotels and had massages booked, 90 minutes of bliss and we knocked off!!

Next Day: Ooooh, the highlight: Great Wall of China

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What a week!!!!

I feel wonderfully relaxed and rejuvenated after a vacation and it feels good. This time around the Holiday's it was a stay-cation for us.
The vacation started with an exciting trip to the water park, followed by a week dotted with lazy lunches and even lazier dinners, meeting friends and sprawled on the couch. We  did manage to complete a couple of (time consuming) home projects, we slept in and above all we played a lot of board games and danced a little more!

Come January 1st, we are slowing waking up from the slumber of the vacation and getting ready for the back to school, back to work, back to scheduled life mode. As I call it, "Regular Scheduled Programming".
But on that last day of stay-cation, I wanted to end it on a bang!
I didn't want left overs from deliciousness before, it was too cold to step out for dinner and definitely didn't want to order in! But I wanted good food!!!

So I got cracking on it. Making one favorite dish for all 4 members for the dinner

Cucumber Sabzi: For myself
Palak Paneer      : For Little Lady
Kadhi                 : For Miss Chatterbox
Ajwain Paratha  : For Sumit

I dont know what it was, whether the softness of the paratha, the heat of the kadhi or just the kids hogging the food without nagging (yes, even little lady) or us four sitting on the dining table and laughing through the meal, dinner was perfect!

A wholesome meal is a brilliant way  to kick start the Year !!!!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcome 2018 & Good Bye 2017

No I will not say, "the year went by so fast!!!"

What I will say is, knock on wood and count our blessings and above all, be very very thankful. The year 2017 is now done and what a wonderful and "balanced" year for sure!

2017 for me was sprinkled with love, work satisfaction, lots of memorable vacations, lots of milestones and changes and the ups and downs of life in general. And I continue to see the world with rose tinted glasses.

We traveled, swam with the whale sharks in Philippines, jetskied in Lake Syracuse, biked on our very own Lake Shore Drive and ended the year a memorable full blown trip to China! We forged new friendships, deepened a few relationships. Above all we thrived. I thrived. Of course there were downs, some hurt, some sorrow, some WTF moments, and some stupidity but for me a year is marked always with the "feeling" and right about now, i have a feeling of contentment.

Kids are doing well, they are now 5 and almost 10. They are beautiful and strong girls and above all happy kids! My husband continues to be my biggest rock and I smile at the end of the day! 
Our parents love us, respect our choices and above all knock on wood, are happy to keep their lives on a pause to help us out when we need them the most. 
Our siblings only get closer as time progresses. I have friends who will come in and take charge, pick up my slack and help with the minutiae details and above all just be there for me. And I only wish, I can do the same for them!

Of course "Getting Fit" is not just about physical transformations; it is also about mental peace. This has been a health wise better year for me. Working out at 6 am to sticking to my goals and above all not letting injuries take over my spirit (most of the time).  This year I learned, albeit the hard way, the concept of fair-weather people. As Sumit would say, about time! Onwards and Upwards.

2017, thank you for a great year! A memorable year and definitely a milestone year!

2018, I welcome you. I know its going to be a BIG year and I am scared, nervous and yet full of hope for what it holds.

Wishing you all a wonderful year ahead. Remember to smile, breathe and hug!