The jerk store called. They ran out of you.” ~ George Costanza in Seinfeld

Little N used to take the bus to school. But I give her a ride on most days now. It gives her an extra 20 minutes of much-needed sleep. I love driving with little N, and chatting about anything and nothing. This morning, the conversation steered towards violin performances. Little N smiled. “Mommy, remember the time in 5th grade when I messed up my solo a couple of times in Miss L’s class?”.

Oh, did I remember.

I have thought about that particular performance of little N’s several times over the intervening years. After a group performance, Miss L gave her students the chance to play solo the piece that they were currently learning. Some kids couldn’t wait to show off, while others hung back. I, seeing that little N was not raising her hand, called out “Oh, Miss L, Neha would like to play her solo”. That moment features amongst my most cringe-worthy moments as a parent (unfortunately, there are quite a few of those). Really do not understand why I was so clueless and pushy. But there I was.

So. Little N stepped up, entirely unprepared (and likely rattled by sudden pushiness from mom), and played the piece that she was then learning. Perfect it was not. She missed hitting the right notes a couple of times but performed bravely and with poise. But I didn’t stop there. I ranted all the way back in the car about how she didn’t take the initiative when Miss L asked the kids to perform the solo, and then, how she did so badly. I lectured on and on (and on) about practicing more and performing well. N told me a couple of times that I was way out of line and should shut the he!! up (I always do so much better when I listen to him, really).  But I was too far gone that day to listen to any voice of reason. I continued to holler away heartlessly at my munchkin for not delivering excellence under pressure.

And now, here we were, 6 years later. Driving along to school on a mild winter morning, with little N asking me if I remembered that performance. “Mommy, I remember you roasted me so hard on the car ride back from that performance in Miss L’s class.” I waited. Little N continued, “I totally deserved it. I remember I did so badly.” I told her how I have thought back to that day many times with a lot of regret and how insane it was to have pushed a 5th grader that hard. “That’s ok, Mommy. Sometimes, you need to do that. It’s not like I am traumatized or anything.”, she smiled reassuringly at me.

The fact of the matter is, I behaved like an ass that day. No two ways about it in my mind (sadly, I know that you agree too).

All things considered, though, little N’s gracious take on the incident makes me so happy. 🙂



2018 has been quite a significant year for us.  Lots of things happened – both good and bad – and mostly on a larger than usual scale.

  • My MIL and my chittappa both passed away suddenly and unexpectedly (it’s never an easy year when you lose a close, loved one)
  • W joined our family and totally warmed his way into our hearts (my babykins)
  • I became a stockholder at my firm
  • Little N turned 16, and started driving and working part-time
  • I finally read (and was totally bowled over by) the Harry Potter series
  • Visited London, Lisbon and the Algarve coast over the summer (so fabulous, that Europe, I say!)
  • Visited Miami over Christmas and just lay there like beached whales doing nothing on most days (should really do this more often)
  • Finally met up with my cousin B after 15 years (the last time we met – little N was 6 months old, and little A was nowhere in sight yet)
  • I started two book clubs that I am enjoying so much – one with friends, and one at my work
  • Coordinated a dinner outing with my neighbors and everyone had so much fun that we are planning to do this monthly in 2019 (let’s see how that goes)
  • Met up with N and with a few friends for lunch dates
  • Didn’t write too many blog posts – just couldn’t find the words on some days with too much going on, and was beyond exhausted on other days (thanks to our energetic W)
  • Bought my treadmill desk in January 2018 and didn’t do one day’s walk or work on it (some things are just not meant to be)
  • Really got into using my Instant Pot in a big way and started trying out several new recipes

My word for 2018 was “Energy”. Energy didn’t feature much into my thinking in 2018, except that it was tested big time on some tough days. Well, I have a more fun and inspirational word picked out for 2019. I think I will do so much better with it.

So. How was your 2018? And do you have a word picked out for 2019?

Sh*t Just Got Real

November 12. In 2010, this was the day that N got a big promotion at work. It was also the same day that Appa first told me that he felt his illness was something major. I woke up this morning and remembered the date. “Something important is going to happen today”, I told myself out of the blue (I do these things, really don’t know why).

I went to my first meeting at work. It was with my colleague J, who I have worked closely with for the past couple of years. She has been an incredible mentor to me, and my cheerleader. She has been instrumental in helping me advance so much within my company in a very short time. As I sat down, she smiled at me. “I have some news. I am retiring in February.” I have always been amazed at her high energy levels and her no-nonsense, don’t-mess-with-me demeanor. I knew that she was turning 60 in December, but it never occurred to me that she would retire anytime soon.

So. I sat there gaping at her as she told me her news. And finally collected myself enough to convey my congratulations and wish her a happy retired life with her husband. But here’s where  the sh*t gets real. We just got a huge contract with a major client. I was always going to play a significant role in driving this new contract in the years ahead. But I saw J being a big part of this for at least the next five years. Guiding me, (sometimes) chiding me, being that safety net to catch me, if needed, while I learned the ropes. And suddenly, that’s not how it’s going to be anymore.

I just started reading Book 7 of the Harry Potter series. After hearing J’s news, I feel like Harry Potter, who must find and destroy the Horcruxes after Dumbledore has just died. The enormity of it is slowly hitting me. There is something scary about the buck stopping with you. But I think I will do ok. I love a challenge, especially when it’s work-related (which comes easier to me than, say, making murukkus or laddoos).

J’s around for the next three months. Man, I listened to her in today’s meeting like I have never listened to her before. So much to learn. So little time. Wish me luck.

The Boy Who Lived

#4 on my “18 for 2018” was to read the Harry Potter series. Just finished Book 4.

Man, what a writer, this J. K. Rowling. I am just blown away (me and everyone else, huh?). A little late to the party, I know. But also, wondering if she is konjam crazy. I mean, how could this woman create all these dozens (hundreds?) of new words (bobotubers, skrewts, hippogriffs – you know what I mean) and then just carry on casually as though it’s the most natural thing in the world? Maddening and mind-blowing at the same time.

Also, fascinating how the books are just getting darker and more disturbing as they move up in years. Just like Indian movies, I said to N earlier. Miss the (relative) innocence of Book 1, sigh!

So. Onto Book 5 now. Little N informed me that we own all the Harry Potter books (yay!) so I walked around the house looking in all the various bookshelves for Book 5. Finally found it in little N’s room.  It was as she said. Half the book is missing. But I still feel lucky (see how fabulously positive I am). The first half of the book – around 300 pages – is intact. Let’s face it, I am not going to wade through more than 300 pages in one night (those days are long gone, machi). Dinner is done and so are the dishes (although, truth be told, it’s take out night, so really no dishes to be done).

Ready to dive into whatever is there of Book 5, and just leave the missing pages for another day. 🙂


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? 🙂


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! 🙂

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! 🙂