I asked the family what they would like to focus on to set the intention for the upcoming school year (yes, I do these sorts of quirky things).

What N, little N, Amma and I came up with.

Little A wants to focus on this guy during the school year.


But I think he gets a ton of attention already, thank you very much! 🙂


Summer’s End

It’s here again – the end of summer. The girls go back to school in three days (thank God for those last few remaining days of sanity!). It has been an absolutely wonderful summer. Do I say this every year? I think do. Still. It’s the truth. We did so many different things, some of which were quite a stretch for me.

  • Left on a two week vacation the day school closed (one of our better ideas)
  • Visited London, Lisbon and the Algarve
  • Finally watched The Lion King in London after pining to watch it since 2001 (tickets somehow seemed cheaper – perhaps because I couldn’t convert in my head from pounds to dollars)
  • Got back home from vacation on the 4th of July, and brought our puppy, Winston, home 10 days thereafter (this still blows my mind)
  • Woke up around 4 am everyday ever since (this is still ongoing, give or take a few miraculous days here and there of sleeping in late till 5 am)
  • Little N turned 16 in August. She didn’t want a sweet sixteen bash, so I came up with a different way to celebrate this special milestone (so clever and creative, if I say so myself). We did a 16 day countdown to her birthday – the idea was to do something special every day for 16 days leading up to her birthday. They were little things. On day 1, I drew a kolam outside our house and made her favorite badam payasam. N and I took her out to lunch one day, and then I took her shopping to her favorite store. I signed her up for driving lessons. Little A and I came up with a short list of 16 specialty cakes for her to choose one from. I bought her birthday balloons. We surprised her with a special birthday card and a credit card (oh, did she like the credit card!). We celebrated with dinner at her favorite pizza place. I drove her to an EPA meeting (“What, this is my birthday thing for today?”, little N asked in disbelief. Well. On some days, I ran out of ideas). But it was so much fun on the whole.
  • My birthday came four days after little N’s. Told N that he should have planned a 45 day countdown for me. Maybe he will do it next year. He will need to start soon, though. 😉
  • Little N is driving and everything. I find it super cute how she drives so carefully – checking the speed limit on every road, and saying things like “oh, go away, municipal waste truck!” (in a vulnerable baby voice that I haven’t heard in years) when another vehicle comes within her range of vision.
  • N and I watched AR Rahman live in NY earlier this week. ARR was phenomenal (as expected). Mind-blowing performance by all the singers. This is pretty far out for N and myself on a regular day. I mean, the drive was around 2 hours each way. Throw in some serious sleep deprivation (thanks to our W), I am amazed we actually made it to the show. But N is a huge fan of ARR, so we had strong motivation. And ARR did not disappoint.
  • Little A didn’t go to summer camp for the first time in, like, ever. She played with (and took fabulous care of) W, and had several friends over on play dates every week. In seventh heaven with all that vettiness!
  • I worked from home a LOT. And pampered the girls when I could. On some days, I bought them take out lunch from their favorite place (which was, of course, not the same place for both).
  • A few friends and I started a book club together. It’s been great fun reading books that are not usually on my radar, and then hearing other perspectives. Our next book club meeting is in a couple of weeks. Find myself eagerly looking forward to it!
  • Finally started reading the Harry Potter series. Because it’s on my “18 for 2018” list. And I have a compulsive need to check off things on any list. So. I have finished the first book, and am onto the second. Cannot believe that I only waited 21 years to start reading the series. Still. Better late than never. And I now have six more Harry Potter books to get my hands on – jealous, aren’t you?

One of the best summers ever. Hope yours was fabulous too! 🙂

OMG! :)

Road mele car… Car mele yaar?!

little N_2_car

“Why OMG for picture of your own (12 year old) SUV being driven on your own street?”, you ask?

Because. Driver is (just turned) 16 year old little N with newly-minted learner’s permit, testing her wings around our cul-de-sac. 🙂

I have thought about this moment so many times. Yet, here it is, and I am not so terrified to see her drive as I thought I would surely be.

In the warm evening glow, I stand at our front door step watching. I see N calmly (I mean, he seems calm from far away) instructing little N, and little N confidently cruising on our little street. Reversing in a straight line and everything. I feel so super proud of my munchkin on this major milestone.

Hmmm… Will I still be proud and not screaming in terror when I am the one sitting in the passenger’s seat with her?

Well. well. Time will tell.

Thotho Tales

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”  Charles Dickens must have had a puppy. 🙂

It’s been four weeks since W joined our family. It has been incredible. He has not slept through the night once since he arrived. That makes for a very sleep-deprived N and myself. We seem to be getting past it slowly – N, W, and myself. We have a certain rhythm going on these days. Not the idyllic “me and my perfect pet” type situation (yet), but a stable sort of rhythm. Which is huge in of itself (I mean, you should have seen us that first week – cleaning out doodoo all the time and clinically depressed).

Little N and I take him for a long walk at night just before bedtime. Little N spends a good chunk of time carrying him around when he won’t cooperate (although I think it’s because she loves to cradle him and cuddle with him). Little N’s step tracker show that we are routinely walking over 5K steps every day. Previously, I was mostly languishing in the “less than 3K steps – Sedentary” world, so this is pretty cool. The weighing scale is showing a decent weight loss for me (which is always nice on the tail of a calorie-filled vacation). Pants that haven’t fit in over a year are looking pretty good these days. Little N and I also talk so much about everything under the sun during our walks, which is such a pleasure for me. Hard to get quality time with a busy teen (who’s turning 16 next week!). Is it such a huge pleasure for little N too? Well. You’ll have to ask her, won’t you? 🙂

W seems to absolutely ADORE N. N is so super patient and kind with W, and shows him so much love. W’s little non-tail wags at express speed when N is in the room. He searches so desperately when N leaves the room, and cuddles up with N with such a confiding and peaceful air that even I find endearing.

Little A had been doing doctoral level research on puppies for at least seven months before we got W. So, she’s the one with all the information. She also has strong opinions on how he must be handled, which prompted little N to give little A several nicknames for bossing us around: Doggie Dictator, Animal Autocrat, and Furry Fascist. But seriously, thank God for little A’s research. Our first week with W would have been insane had little A not already made sure to stock up on basic supplies (and then some). W is so playful with little A, which is such a delight (and sometimes mildly alarming) to watch. The girls have been trying to train W to do tricks. Helps that he is very motivated by food. Super fun!

W seems moderately interested in Amma and myself. Amma doesn’t engage much with him, other than speaking to him in Tamil sometimes when she is in the kitchen (W is going to be bilingual!). And sometimes sharing outdoor time with him while walking.

I spend a LOT of time with W. But it’s more functional time than fun time. When he wakes me up at night, I clean up without making eye contact. Willing him to quietly go back to sleep and not think that I woke up to play with him. I don’t let him lick me (what’s a puppy to do, W despairs, I am sure) or nip at me (serious no, no). I am v. no-nonsense with him. I mean, I am already quite indulgent with my two munchkins, I just do not have the bandwidth to pamper one more. So, I interact with W in a sort of semi-professional way. Meanwhile, he seems to think that I am his Ayah. That I am there to clean up after him and walk around with him when it suits him. I don’t see the uncontrolled tail wagging that he reserves for N and the girls. We have a strange dynamic going on – W and me. Which suits me fine.

I am not proud of this and I am telling you (and you only). I have been catching myself snapping at people around me between 4 and 6 pm (hunger, tiredness, and sleep-deprivation all catching up to me by late afternoon). In the past few days, I have been making sure to have a cup of chai and a snack, and sit quietly by myself for a few minutes during that time. Works like a charm.

Most importantly, I find that W forces me to be in the moment. With all the additional work around a new puppy, I don’t find myself dilly-dallying around mundane tasks, churning over minor decisions, or worrying about things that I can’t control. I have always been pretty efficient and organized, but I am now operating with military-level precision. For the first time in a month, I am finding myself ahead of piled up work (hope this trend continues!). Our family dynamic seems to have changed somewhat, and we are somehow all closer, chatting and laughing (and bickering) more, bound more tightly together by W.

So. A month in. I am learning that there are lots of pros and cons to puppy ownership. I am not going to tell you that the pros outweigh the cons. Or vice versa. It’s all part of the package. And, in my own way, I am happy that we have this little package in our family at this time.

For now, that’s quite enough.

My 18 for 2018 Update

I wrote up my “18 for 2018” list back when 2018 was brand new and shiny.  Here’s how I have fared, seven months later. Lots of progress on some (unexpected ones), no progress at all on others (no surprises there), and really hit the mark on a handful.

So. Here goes. My July 2018 update in parantheses.

  1. Try 300 new recipes (He!! no. How about a more manageable 12 per year? Let’s try that first, ok?).
  2. Walk a 1000 miles (Well. Bought the treadmill desk but felt nauseous on it in the beginning, and have made no progress getting back on it. But I may still hit this goal, thanks to a certain furry friend from #6 below).
  3. Use tote bags for groceries (Absolutely rocking this one! Although, since we are now buying more plastic bags and paper towels to accommodate aforementioned furry friend, maybe this one just breaks even?)
  4. Read the Harry Potter series (Have not started yet, but fully intend to. Have been watching the movies off and on, does that count?)
  5. Clear out and de-clutter at least one closet or one room every month (No effing way this is getting done. Especially given family’s current hyper busy schedule due to #6 below.
  6. Puppy for the family – figure it out and make it happen in the first quarter (This one blows my mind. I cannot believe that I put it on the list in the first place, and we also made it happen (although not in the first quarter). Found myself telling little A the other day that I couldn’t believe that her friend S has a puppy, and realized – holy sh*t, wait a minute, we now have a puppy.).
  7. No more than two cups of caffeine per day (Yeah, right! Make that five).
  8. No more than one pack of sugar per coffee (Yeah, right! Make that five. Ok, not five. Make that two).
  9. No vending machine snacks at work (Yes!! But mainly because of a lot of work from home time due to #6).
  10. Make albums of family and vacation pictures (Hmmm… will roll into my 19 for 2019 list).
  11. Learn to french braid the munchkins’ hair (Ammadi! I really have no talent for some things. Would really love to learn to do fun things with the girls’ hair. But how, oh how?).
  12. Listen to at least one podcast every day (This is happening fabulously – idhukku onnum korachal illai, kaasa panama?).
  13. Write at least four blog posts every month (You know the deal with this one).
  14. Try six new restaurants near home (Have not given this much thought. Tried maybe one new restaurant so far. This should be easy and fun. Sure, will do five more in five months).
  15. Use my Nutribullet at least twice a week to make smoothies (Well. Effing Nutribullet didn’t work. So bought a new different brand smoothie blender. Making smoothies erratically off and on. Should remember twice a week, easy no?).
  16. Have friends over at least once every quarter (Thanks to #6, you can kiss this one goodbye for the near future).
  17. Lunch date with N every month (Haven’t gone out to lunch since N’s birthday back in early May. Not too late to get back on the wagon. Should plan for August!)
  18. Go watch “Hamilton” on Broadway (Sure, as soon as I get the small bank loan that I have requested to pay for our tickets).

Looks like not much got done yet, huh? Well. 2018 is still young. We’ll get there! 🙂

Puppy Parent

You know that you have become a puppy parent when:

  • in addition to sometimes mixing up your two kids’ names, you have now started calling the puppy by their names as well
  • you go into work and you look around while riding up the elevator thinking that you hear him whining
  • he walks up to your room at 3 am, and instead of getting frustrated, you marvel at how cleverly he got past the gates and climbed up all those stairs (“poor baby, knows to climb up the stairs but not back down, like Abhimanyu”, N and I said to each other)
  • you then lie there in the darkness at 3:30 am – him on the kitchen floor back inside his enclosure, and you not too far away (don’t ask) – and you find yourself singing lullabies that you have not belted out in several years
  • he totally calms down within seconds of your singing (score: 1 for Winston, 0 for baby stage little N and little A)
  • you constantly have a camera around so as to not miss one fabulous thing he does
  • you sit there working furiously on your laptop (I mean, you still need to work during work from home, no?) but keep one eye on him taking a long nap
  • instead of enjoying the (temporary) lull, you wonder if he is ok and worry that he doesn’t seem like himself (and then you tell yourself “Get a grip, girl! He’s been with you for four days! You have NO IDEA what himself is like. Maybe he is actually a cat wannabe and likes long naps.”)

And last, but not the least

  • you come out of the bathroom after doing your business, and you look around expectantly for a treat 😉



We brought home our little guy today. Winston Peanut Narayan.

The girls have been asking for a puppy (and assorted other pets) for years. N has always been supportive and quite ready to become a puppy parent. I have been the one with all the doubts and fears. I finally agreed in December of last year.  It took us another seven months, and finally, here we are on this glorious summer Saturday.

He is 12 weeks old, born on April 22, 2018. The day that my MIL passed away. Which makes him even more super special to me.

I love his sweet face, his innocent trusting eyes. I shed tears when we picked him up and said goodbye to his mother. It pains me that he won’t ever see his mother again. I rubbed her back and whispered to her my promise that we will take good care of her baby.

The girls are beyond thrilled. They have been cuddling him and playing with him the whole day. From what I have been reading, potty training is going to take a few months (at least).  But what’s a little pee and poo in unexpected places in the grand scheme of things, huh?

Wish us luck as we “embark” on this new journey with our little Winnie! 🙂