Report Card Feeling

I have always loved receiving report cards (you knew I was a geek, didn’t you?). When the teacher would (perversely) start handing out report cards in reverse rank order (rank 39, then 38, then 37, and so on), I would be standing there almost smacking my lips when the count down would get to 4, 3, 2… Satisfactorily landing on 1 sometimes, but not always. Which made it all the more exciting – the uncertainty, the anticipation, oooh la la!!

So. That’s my “report card” feeling. And I have not had that report card feeling in a long time. Until now.

Why now, you ask?

Well. All these years, when I (used to) open my munchkins’s lunch boxes at the end of the school day, one or both would have at least some leftovers. And sometimes, the whole lunchbox would come back home intact. Quite discontented, I would empty out their boxes and load them into the dishwasher wondering what in the world I could do better.

Finally, after all these years, when little N has reached 11th grade, I had an aha moment (verrrry slow on the uptake – seriously). Bought lovely looking thermos lunch boxes for my chickis. And started sending warm (if not steaming hot) lunches to school. Suddenly, looks like lunch from home is a lot more palatable (my poor babies!). I am getting empty lunch boxes from not one but both munchkins on most days.

On most, but not all days. So here it is again – that uncertainty, that anticipation. My report card feeling. It took me a while to realize, but that’s what it is.

Do you have a distinct, recognizable “report card feeling”? And, more importantly, when do you feel it? 🙂

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Wisdom from Winston

Our blackboard currently reads – “What can we learn from Winston today?” (yes, I am having a prettttty idle Sunday). The family has not come up with any responses yet (after all, they are just starting on breakfast) but I (surprise!) have come up with a few gems.

You ready?

  • Give unconditional love to those around you
  • Keep trying until you get what you want
  • Long afternoon naps are the BEST
  • Love, food, shelter, exercise, play, and rest – what more do you need in life?
  • It is awesome when others clean up after you
  • You don’t always need to follow someone else’s agenda (aka pee pads are just a suggestion)
  • It is pointless to cry when no one is around to baby you and make you feel better
  • Try new things at least once
  • If someone is barking at you unprovoked, be sure to show them what you think too

And last but not least,

  • Never underestimate the importance of being cute 🙂

Simple Pleasures

Sondham or aanandham, bandham per aanandham…”

I am in the middle of whipping up dinner for three (N has a dinner meeting tonight, and W has already eaten). Dinner tonight (as on most nights around here) is quite simple – paruppu, tomato rasam, vendakkai roast (yum!), and rice. As I chop and sautee furiously with one eye on the clock (after all, little A has her flute lesson to get to this evening), I am suddenly struck by something.

All three of my munchkins are gathered close around the kitchen island where I am bustling about. They are each busy with their own thing, peacefully coexisting. Little N is working on a chemistry lab report, little A is practicing flute, and W is circling the island expectantly (but quietly), waiting for me to accidentally drop some food (not happening, buddy!).

It’s nothing special and so super special at the same time. This moment of closeness. You know what I mean. Makes me so happy. 🙂

Intention

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.

W

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).
  • 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.