Friday, February 28, 2014

The Ubiquitous Diary(S?!)

 

From the time the triplets were toddlers..I remember, most afternoons, we’d be sitting together drawing and coloring. I used to have them around, with me in the center and I would draw to them…profiles of different animals. How would you distinguish between a Rabbit and a Mouse, in the drawing?! By its ears!!

I had their playroom walls full of drawing boards so, at any moment, each of them would have a board to herself. Other than toys..the closets were full of activity books and cute little diaries that I could find in the market. Seemed like I was more fascinated by those cute diaries than them. Any paper scrap would have done for them, I’m sure.

They used to fill all those little diaries with their drawings and as they started to write…they started to emulate their writings after the books they read…They started to pick after writing styles that attracted them, and illustrations was a big part of their writings, then.  I remember, a first grade teacher pointing out to me that, she discouraged them from drawing and encouraged them to write first, because,…they were so into it and would spend all of the time in the illustrations itself Smile

The Diary of the Wimpy Kid was the one that helped them take a direction in journaling. It helped them set their illustration style. Today, they are 11 years old and they still continue to write in their diaries, and illustrations is still a big part of it. R on the other hand loves to read their diaries and break all rules … her elder triplet sisters set for their diaries.

For a long time, the girls have gotten in the habit of taking their reading to the bathroom, to be precise, The Loo!

They read there and sometimes I’ve even found them with their laptops! Often times..so engrossed, they forget that they are on a potty seat and its time to finish!

Well..easy to follow, R has taken to this habit too.  I mean…reading on the toilet seat! Only, she loves reading her sister’s diaries. She has found our bathroom to be a safe haven to read her sister’s diaries. Recently, I found a diary, in my bathroom. It was a cute little white bound diary and had these big words written on them.

Keep Calm and Don’t Read

Well…I could keep calm because..that’s the only way I’d be out of the Loo quick..right?!  But, the Don’t read was too good to Ignore, so, I opened the diary..and found out it belonged to one of the triplets…Reading it calmed me down further.  It was cute and had entries from summer of last year..around the triplet’s birthday..

It continued up until December of last year and then abruptly stopped.  She had written  about what she was hoping to get for Christmas.. Since, Daddy dear had told them that their choices were too expensive and turned them down…she’d put in her hopes and every day, had an entry that talked about how she suspected Daddy dear to be fooling them..that it must have been that package that came that morning…She had noticed how Daddy had ran out to get to it.

Sitting at the Dinner table today..suddenly, Papa mentions about the Diary in the Loo….The Calming Diary that tells you to read it by telling you, not to read it!

“Oh…why don’t you give me another diary to read!” , he says.

Suddenly…all the girls were starring at him, all baffled.

“That diary…that says to keep calm and don’t read!! I’m tired reading it everyday…I want another one now!”, he clarifies.

Now the girls are all starring with “squinchy”  eyes at R.

R!!!!!, they shout together at her.

Daddy dear continues..mockingly..

“What! There are hardly any entries in there..You start off last summer and write a little about when you school starts and then you jump to DEC?!!”

I joined in with him.

“Yeah!!…. and as soon as they got their UGGS, she stops writing!”, I say.

N is embarrassed and shocked that both of us had peeked into her diary….inspite of the “KEEP CALM AND DON’T READ!!” instruction.

She exclaims…

“Mumma…you too!!!”

“You read it too!”

So, thanks to R, my youngest daughter…I got a peek into some of my daughter’s unshared moments..or, so I thought. 

Well, The question had remained…hadn’t it? 

I asked again.

“WHy did you stop writing..?”

“I have another diary. I write in several”,  she replied.

Oh!!..so, she keeps the harmless ones around to be found?!!!

Anyways..Today, Papa comes to me at bedtime and says..

“There’s another diary in the bathroom, who’s is that?!”

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Trust … Mom or Google?!

 

Recently, When I went to the common computer at home, I found this typed on Google’s homepage.

“Is No a bad word?”

I eventually, found out that, R, my youngest daughter was the one who was in the quest for finding that answer. She hadn’t thought of asking her Mom for an answer. She went to Google with her question.

The situation that led to it, was obvious. I had heard some arguing sounds of her with her sisters  and her sisters..being fed up with her constant “NO!!!” must have told her that it’s a bad word..and R, who prides herself on making the right choices…well…let’s say “Good” choices, as spelled by her teacher, must have been baffled at this revelation.

She was sure..that if she went to Mom, Mom would question her of the situation and depending on that..she would surely answer..

“Yeah..that’s a bad word”

or, she could end up being reprimanded on her behavior..

She wanted an unprejudiced answer. Mom is full of prejudices. She is going to pre judge her and not concentrate on giving her a correct answer. She trusts Google for that!

As a parent, You think that you treat your children fair and square. You know your children so much that even before a situation is presented to you…you almost know, which child would be the culprit, right?!…So much for being fair and square!!

But, children are not as na├»ve as you think them to be. They guess this of their parents in the slightest of ways. So, I’m happy that Google could offer itself as a solution, which is fine.

But, how can you as a parent trust it..when the actual results of the search had pointed her to websites that leads her to a list of so many bad words she wasn’t even aware of….in its quest for being unprejudiced?!!

The other day…she was doing a school homework on word sort. As I checked her homework..I wanted to point her to a mistake that she’d done.

Luckily for her…almost all words had the first letters different, so the sort was ok..but, for 2 words  Candy and Cards.

She had cards listed before candy. As I pointed to her that candy preceeds cards…she went into a tantrum mode…frustrated, that her mom doesn’t understand how her teacher teaches or, how her homework is supposed to be done.
She tried explaining to me..that since both the words start with C, it doesn’t matter in what order they are placed.

She taught me that such an order is called..”Alphabetical!”

She didn’t give me a chance to talk another word.

Wondering how I can salvage the situation…Suddenly, a bulb glowed..and I thought, why not take the help of Mr. Computer.  I told her …

“Let’s put all these words on the internet and ask it to sort them..and then, you can see in what order they are placed, ok?!”

Immediately, I had her attention.

She didn’t notice that I had searched for a word sorter on the internet..But, we did get a text box where we could input the words and a button that said “SORT A-Z” waiting there, to be pressed.

And Voila!  The sort ended up in the sequence I had suggested.

After that..I had all her ears.  I explained her that once a letter matches..we jump over to the next letter in a word, and sort them.

Lucky for me…I had the internet to help me solve my problem. And Unlucky for me..the kids, trust the internet to my wisdom.

I had come across this quote recently,

“Respect your parents..They graduated without Google”

In guess, if the kids were given a chance at the quote they would have worded it this way.

“Beware of your parents…They graduated without Google”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Everyday–a bonfire of my emotions.

 

Everyday...I go through this gamut of emotions when it comes to my children. They make me feel calm, happy, foolish, proud, surprised, angry, energetic, tired, frustrated and even blessed for being their mother.  All in a day.  The situations may vary but, the emotions are the same!

Even if they spend most part of the day in school or have a snow day off, it’s the same!!!  I don't know if that's the case with all the moms...but, that's how it is with me.

Not a day goes by..that I'm not proud of them..and not a day goes by, when I'm not totally, really totally frustrated with them and wonder how I’m going to survive another day.

Not a day passes … when I’m not already tired when I wake up in the morning..and by the time..I’ve packed my fourth child through the door,…to school, my energy for the day is DONE! I am driven by this unstoppable desire that I want to just sit down..and then..I don’t want to think anything..I don’t want to do anything..I just want to zone out!

I don’t know how I pick myself up from there and the rest of the day happens. If my children were to give me a name, I think my other name would be “Tired”!

How can Motherhood feel so joyful and feel so enervating at the same time?! You can love your children so much and be angry, frustrated with them in the next few minutes..or, hours?!! 

Yeah..could you imagine telling them…all weekend that they need to get things signed and ready and they come to you just as their bus is a few minutes away..that, they need to get something signed or they need money for some event?!!! Would you yell at them? What would you do at that moment?  I still can’t help but, to kiss them bye…as they leave the door, to school, after I had yelled at them..just a few minutes ago.

Well .. mosaic of emotions at the Palle residence. My children can woe me, with their wonderful creations in the kitchen. Just look at those wonderful cakes they created for Papa dear’s birthday and mine!! All without my knowledge. So, out of the box recipe..with limited resources. No oven used..no cake batter..no stove!!

Mommy's Birthday! 

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This morning they had a day off from school because of snow….as usual! They expect to make their own breakfast..on holidays. So, they cooked a wonderful breakfast and passed on a plate for me too!  It was a menu of pancakes and veggie Omelette. It was delicious, so moist..so yummylicious!!

But when I entered the kitchen to prepare lunch..it was a sight I never want to see ever again. All the cut veggies..left on the cutting mat, egg shells not cleaned up..I have to admit..I lost my cool. Took me an hour to get the sanity back to my kitchen..I had just vowed to never to let them cook anything else .. and it was teatime. The tea they served us was such a life saver. A perfect end to the day.

They mesmerize me with their singing and score the highest marks in their music exam..yeah all! they topped everybody. Their music teacher, totally impressed with them, announced,

“The Palle sisters will start of the Yearly recital Solo, (well! as solo as solo can be..they are 3 sisters!) with a Raag of their choice”.

A very rare chance that she has never given to anybody. Which mom won’t be proud of such kids?!

But then, they will never take up the onus of the practice. They will always have an excuse. Either the homework is too much..or, its too many activities to handle. Its an ordeal to get them to practice.

When I sing an english song..they inadvertently..laugh at the way I make it sound so Indian.  Then..almost immediately they will apologize to me..lest it hurt me, even as I tell them..I am much tougher than that!! Well..I get my sweet revenge when I sit with them as they practice their Indian classical music.

They will fight with each other…and just as soon as, I am mad with any one of them..they will team up together and stand up for each other. It’s a joy to watch them be loyal to each other and so exhausting to get one of them to rat on the other!

They inspire me to do my best. When P was looking for me, one weekend, she wondered if I had gone to the gym. Papa dear mentioned to her..

“Mama doesn’t go to the gym on weekends.”

She asks

“Why not?!”

Sometimes I wonder..if its me who should be setting my expectations of her..or, the other way around?! Either way…it inspires me to do more..to show them that its important to keep fit.

Recently, When an electrician inadvertently set of the smoke alarm at home, R was so confident that her dad would never let such things happen if he were to fix something. The fact that her dad had gotten up and fixed a rogue alarm that was going off in the middle of the night by changing the battery had made him her, Hero!

In spite of my explanations..she remained adamant that her dad is a better fixer.  This blind faith with which they look up to you….it raises the bar on you..as a parent!

Sitting in my room..I hear them humming tunes. Sometimes, they are familiar tunes and other times, something new. Those gentle hums travelling across the hallways..Blissful!

Even those giggles they share among themselves. It makes me feel blessed.  Blessed for being able to provide those happy moments to my children.  I don’t feel like walking over to their room and disturbing the equilibrium they’ve achieved to be giggling like that. I just want those moments to last…and just revel in them..from where I am.

Just as much as they giggle…it’s a sight to watch them stress out!!

The other day .. we were at an event to audition for their talent. It was a sight watching N’s drama. She just couldn’t’ wouldn’t stop crying. Hubby dear and me tried hard to calm her and even warn her that it would mess her voice. Nothing helped…except being done with her turn. How do you deal with talented kids who aren’t brave enough to face it?!

Yeah..and not to forget all that that goes in..to make the day happen…the dishes, the laundry, the food..!!

It’s a mad house, I tell you! Everyday! But, at the end of the day…when I see them as they all get ready to bed..As I wait for their lights to go off…watching from my room..Another day done..Another day conquered..Another moment of calm..to know that my kids are safe and happy!

Motherhood!! I wouldn’t do it any other way..

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Affection…in Public?!

 

Public display of affection and love….are you comfortable with that?! Could be in any form..could just be an innocent peck on your cheek by your spouse/partner or a tight hug. Do you like it?

I used to find that very uncomfortable. I still feel embarrassed. But, Hubby dear has always been fine with that. Luckily for him…we met and our romance blossomed here in USA. We married here, live here.  So, whenever he did try being romantic with me in public..we didn’t have people turning their head and giving us odd stares…it was normal.  For me…it was uncomfortable nonetheless.

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When Hubby dear would hug me or even give me a light peck on the cheek..my impulsive reaction would be to look around and make sure..nobody was watching us and then deal with Hubby dear. He used to laugh at me…for doing that.

He had always told me that my eyes reminded him of the Deer…always scared and checking around. 

Fast forward so many years…we now have a house full of kids and sometimes even our parents, and, I still keep using my Deer eyes. Until the kids were 3-5 years old…we didn’t have any problems with displaying our affections in front of the kids. Then…Papa started being very clever. He would take the permission of his children..

“Mama deserves a kiss right?!” , he would ask them.

They would nod innocently and laugh at my reaction.  Today, he tries that with Richa and she pushes him away and says…

“No! you can’t kiss Mama, she is mine!”

and at other times she will side with Papa and say..

“Yeah..Papa..you have to kiss Mama”

They enjoy seeing their parents in love. Every child does! But, the show of affection should be decent. They cannot, however, stand to see their parents being too physical.

We call one of our kid.. “The Cop”

Its so hard to get a few private moments as husband and wife. She can always figure out that we’re up to something. Even if she were in another room…she would be walking into our room at the moment. She will become uncomfortable and walk away..and leaving us feeling so silly…especially me..I could die of embarrassment. I feel like burying my face into something like an Ostrich.

Luckily, we’ve never had the situation like in Modern Family where the children … out to wish/impress their parents…open their door, one morning with a tray of Breakfast in their hands, only to find the parents naked, in a really awkward position. The son’s (Luke!) words still ringing in my ears..

“Whatever mom and dad were doing…it looked like Dad was winning hands down!”

Today, we celebrated our 18 year of Valentine together and my daughter did the honors of clicking our candid moments together.  Actually she insisted that she wanted to click some candid moments of her parents together.

Just a few instructions on compositions and she could already feel the joy of capturing beautiful moments..She remarked..

“I want to become a photographer!”

She has always been like this. When she was a toddler … she had remarked, that she had wanted to be a married woman. 

A Video that I made of our pictures clicked by my children…even my MOM!

HERE.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Good or Bad?!

 

R, my youngest child,  has been into Mythological Amar Chitra Kathas...for sometime now. I had bought a whole mythological set (about 250 of them), the last time I had gone to India. Every moment she gets, when she's leaving to school or, when she is back from school,..she's behind the sofa in the corner of the family room..beside the fireplace reading them..again and again..Staring at the illustrations of those celestial women, their clothes..and the war depictions, the blood and illustrations of rage. Its very funny how she pronounces, Gandhari or Pandavas or any name from that myriad collection of Indian mythological characters.

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Earlier, her picks used to be .. all those books who's cover has beautiful women on it..The book “Urvashi” is in tatters!! With four girls at home...seems like that was the most read book :-)

Now..she's past it and picks whatever interests her. She was too surprised to know that a father can go to war with his own sons. 

“How can a Daddy wage a war with his own children, Mama?!”

She’s baffled and is happy for Luv and Kush, when they win the war. She loves them even because she herself has identical sisters. She identifies with their love for each other as brothers, their loyalty for each other.

She is confused that a husband can banish his wife from the kingdom for no reason.  That men can order the clothes off of a lady while the husbandS watch. She's fascinated with Krishna and his powers. She wonders if she will also be helped by him when she’s in trouble. She's amazed that a lady can give up her eyes..just because her husband is blind.  She’s feels wonder at the power of Parvathi.

Lots of reality for a child to whom life is still in black and white.  Her questions make me speechless, unable to find a convincing answer for that age group. Gets me thinking if these books are even meant for small children. 

In India, as we grew up, we didn't make such distinctions when we were kids..we were exposed to these comics without giving a second thought if it was age appropriate.  And we accepted the good people as good and bad as bad. We never realized that Ravana was actually a very learned person. He was called Ravana Brahma because his knowledge was comparable to that of Brahma's. Or, why Kumbakarna was always sleeping. Or, we never questioned why Sita was banished to the forest just because of some Dhobi's words. We didn’t question if Rama was right or Lakshmana for that matter.

There are some very interesting..clever tidbits in the stories though..like the concept of “Akshayapatra”, or the concept of “Chandi”. Lots of stories that relate to our lives..For one …My kitchen sink and my Laundry are my “Akshayapatras” Smile 

When a child questions you, why somebody behaves bad, its so easy to answer why ..by saying "Because he is a bad guy".  But, if a person is supposed to be righteous, and comes upon a behavior not befitting him/her, then, how do we explain a child why they behave like that...How do we explain the GREY part of life?!  How do we explain the decisions people make in life?!

I remember reading somewhere that its very important for a child's world to be Black and White.  They have to learn to perfectly distinguish between good and bad behaviors because they are not mature enough to make appropriate decisions or, even decipher people's good and bad intentions. There should be no confusion. It should be clear to them..A particular behavior is either good or bad. No middle ground. But, such comics make such things very confusing. Don't you think?!

Richa: Mama...I find myself cheering for Rama as well as the bad guys (Ravana's army). I don't know why!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

FALL

 

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. It’s a second chance that nature gives to us..to celebrate Spring all over again, only this time, we look at the leaves as if they were flowers. 

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A season to bring out your sweaters, a season for hot tea, pumpkins, acorns, fog, frost, leaves..bonfires and be scary on Halloween. A season to light lamps to celebrate Diwali, and give thanks to, too!

As the summer heat starts to subside, fresh colors starts to emerge. It makes me feel so warm, even as the temperature decreases. Last fall…we did not do our usual trip to the Mountains to see the fall colors because the colors in and around our town were so vibrant that I hadn’t seen this vibrance in many years.

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The red maples reached their full color even as the October Glory was still not done. The leaves stayed on the trees for very long, the days with blue skies and fluffy white clouds giving some out of the world contrasts.  Every day as I drove..I enjoyed the vibrance around and I would vow to come back with my camera but, it usually never happened.

In spite of all this..I did however make time now and then to capture the colors around my home and the couple of times that I ventured out (when it happened at the peak of bright sunny daylight!)… There were times when I remembered to keep the camera with me..as I drove the kids to the Doctors or the Dentists, the Music class or the Dance, or, even when I went to the grocery store. It was those times that I would stop the vehicle to the side and capture a few glimpses of the fall of 2013.

Fall usually takes off in September when the temperature starts to fall and the flowers start to appear again.  Especially the Cosmos, Lavender and many wildflowers. Even the smaller Petunias, Lobelias, Impatient start to flourish after the beating of summer’s heat. Its even time for Halloween, and lots of other world festivals like DIWALI! This Diwali we took the time not only to light up the home but, also bring in color with some Rangoli.

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As the temperatures drop further and the day light decreases the October Glorys and Burning Bush is on fire.and the Red Maples and the last of the fall…starts to show. It’s a thing to experience with patience..Your senses need to activate..and for that..one needs to slow down, breath that fresh air  and take notice.That was my endeavor this fall…Maybe that’s why I felt that the fall was very vibrant this year?!  Not sure! I created a video of the things that I noticed this fall. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it.

THE VIDEO.