A Photo A Week Challenge: At Play

As I have mentioned before, behavioral patterns of my kids are in stark contrast with each others. The older one is still the quieter one, the one that would sit still for longer and play with his toys for hours when he was an infant and a toddler. Which also gave me ample opportunities to take his pictures! My younger one has been a bundle of energy from the very beginning and it has been challenging to photograph her…be still or at play! But my efforts continue! In spite of their differences, however, they are good at playing with each other and that makes for many a wonderful afternoons:) I wish I had some good photos to post but I don’t and at the same time, I did not want to miss out on the challenge this week! So, here I go with this week’s post for Nancy Merrill’s Photography Challenge.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.

A Photo A Day: December ’19-Jan

In the frenzy of bidding 2019 goodbye and all the hoopla that is usually a part of that, I put a hold on my ‘a photo a day’. And now that all that craziness has subsided and we are again back into the usual humdrum, I wanted to share photos from December through today as part of my a photo a day project!. Many of these photos I have already shared as part of various challenges and some on my other posts, but here they are as a collage.

 

 

 

 

Moments big and small make up for this tapestry that we weave everyday. Etched across the pocketbook of our memories, some are soft, some hurt and some make us roll on the floor with laughter. They help us look back into the vignette of the time gone by and remember a particular afternoon. These were my moments. Hope you are sketching in your pocketbook of memories too.

Thanks for stopping by and I wish you all a weekend that lets you do whatever you want to!

A Birthday Post

How do I start this post that wants to celebrate the person I share my home with, the one who is imperfectly perfect for me, is a good father to our kids and who would get absolutely mad if he knew about this! When I had an account on Facebook, posts splashed with love would pop up every other day, as couples shared each other’s birthdays and anniversaries and let their whole world know how much they loved each other. And I often thought “if only he would post something similar on my birthday or our anniversary and also not get upset if I did the same”. But he never did and neither did I . I also thought the posts to be too cheesy 😉

As I have come to know this person more and more over the years and as I continue to know him, the elements of surprise and predictability go hand in hand in his case and that combination assures me that we are two imperfect people who are never going to give up on each other. I knew him in high school and then we reconnected after a gap of almost seven years but it never felt that we hadn’t been in touch (sounds like a terrible cliche, I know!). And we have been on a roller coaster ride since. Through the fights and laughs, we have seen each other at our worst and best and learned to pause, reflect and move on. He has been patient and kind and as supportive as one could possibly be when I have needed him the most. He is forgetful of many things on a daily basis and while that is supremely irritating at times, that has also given me and continues to give some of the best memories with him! His passion for music ( a completely self taught guitarist!) and for cooking keep impressing me even today. A ‘perfectionist’ husband can be a difficult thing, specially when the wife is more of a slob but that inspires the slob to be better!

Neel: Here’s to you….who I married almost eleven years ago and whom I have known for ever.

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While this is a very hazy picture, it remains my favorite wedding photo. Remember the time when we got married, you were  going through the most challenging time of your life. We had nothing and yet somehow we survived and came out stronger. You helped me adjust to this very different way of life here and made me see the best in all that there was, in what we had. We didn’t have money or time to travel far and wide and so the only place for us to go to, over and over again was Duluth, that still is my most favorite place to visit. Let’s go there again!

 

From rustic to not so plain, you can cook up a meal that leaves my tummy full and heart fuller and I absolutely do not mind the tremendous mess in the kitchen! Your zen like state, under all circumstances can be annoying at times, but when I take a step back and think about that, I could not be more grateful. You help me keep my balance and I know to lean on you when needed. I applaud you for your patience and I am happy for choosing you to be the yin to my yang.

And what can I say about that guitar! The dedication and passion with which you play, be it simple strumming or nursery rhymes or Pink Floyd, is inspiring and simply amazing and I love it more than I can ever express properly. The little guy looks up to you and I can see how he watches you when you play and that makes me pause.

You don’t particularly like taking selfies and neither do you think every occasion deserves a photo and while we have to agree to diasgree, I am glad that we have these to remind us of simple times at home and the times we have traveled around. I look forward to so many more of such photos together:) If I asked you which was my favorite from this group, you would have no problem pointing at the one in the extreme right bottom…in the waiting room of the hospital back in 2015…waiting to get admitted to welcome our baby boy:)

It is hard to tell, from those kind eyes, that you are a very mischievous person too! Bit by bit, you and the little guy are adding to the pages of your pocketbook of memories.

I remember all the apprehension you had about being able to be a good father and while you are still new in this arena, you are doing a good job with them…let their mamma tell you that!

 

When I look at you and then I look at us, I am reminded of the infinite patience that you have shown and the calm you have maintained when times got tough and so, when I say that we are in this together I want you to know, again, that it’s okay to not feel strong at all times…vulnerability at times, is a good thing. You are doing a great job, my love.

 

You prefer the simpler things in life and while that does baffle me at times, but it also makes me like you more and more. I wish I had captured the your expression when the Cheesecake Factory guys got you the birthday cake slice with the candle and all sang “Happy Birthday to You”!!! You were thoroughly embarrassed and didn’t know what to do…hahahahhahahahhahaa!!!!!

 

One fine evening in Kobe, these roses caught me by surprise and it has been a wonderful journey ever since. One of my favorite photos of us, this calms me down, I don’t really know why. I want you to know today and always, that no matter what we are in this together and there is a whole world of travel, food and fun waiting to greet us! We also have two very handful little ones who are entertaining and exhausting, adorable and full of mischief. I am looking forward to all the milestones that we will be celebrating together, watching them grow.

And look what happened…. this post turned out to be just as cheesy as the ones I used to squirm looking at on Facebook and you are going to be so mad! But for once, I don’t care;) I love you with all my heart and as our song goes “Wise men say, only fools rush in; But I can’t help, Falling in love with you.” My wish for you is that you continue to be the you that I have always known and hold my hand tight. I wish to travel with you all over the world but I want to start with the city that brought us together-Kobe, Japan and explore that beautiful country together.

 

 

Thank you for stopping by and thank you for (hopefully!) not thinking that this was cheesy;)

Guess What

Here’s a little guessing game that I would love for you to participate in!

I am posting a couple of photos that will give you a sneak peek into a new ‘something’ that, I hope, will  become a regular post/challenge soon. Will you join me?

Can you guess what that might be? Take a close look at the photos and it should not be that difficult!

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are rounding up the year with that which is close to your heart!

The night before Christmas

It was the night before Christmas and the house, unlike the one in the story, was in a state of ‘near pandemonium’. Dinner had not yet started and the kitchen was an absolute mess with the cookies that needed to be baked for Santa and the baby’s food that needed to go in the mixer and a sink that was overflowing with dishes from the afternoon. The little boy was finding it difficult to contain his excitement and kept jumping down from the sofa for no good reason while the baby girl kept trying to crawl under the Christmas tree and pull at whatever her tiny fingers could get hold of. The dad was doing his best trying to get the guest bedroom/playroom ready for people coming over the following day and picking up a ridiculous number of tiny pieces of Lego was making it a little challenging for sure. The mom kept breathing and cleaning the kitchen while keeping an eye on the little ones who clearly seemed to be in no rush to eat or go to bed.

Somehow dinner got done and the kitchen was cleaned and it was finally time for the kids to be in bed when the boy said ” I am thinking of staying up as long as it takes so that I can meet Santa when he comes in and ask him somethings I really need to ask”. It took a good amount of ‘logical’ storytelling that convinced him to sleep and let Santa work his magic. After the teeth had been brushed and PJs put on and a Santa story read, the boy remembered that he had forgotten to keep cookies and milk for Santa and carrot for the reindeer. So lights got turned on again in the kitchen and after all that was done, and a ‘thank you’ note written, the mom heard the boy talk to Santa looking up into the night sky through the skylight in the living room. And he said “Thank you Santa for bringing us presents. You know I want a walkie talkie and a Paw Patrol watch. I know that you are  very busy so if you can’t find a Paw Patrol watch, it’s okay…you an get me any watch or none at all…I won’t be upset. Also, could you please remember to get a flower each for my parents and a book too. And a fluffy stuffy for my baby sister.” The mom smiled and wondered when did her little munchkin grow up?

After what seemed like eternity, the kids were finally in bed and the toys had been picked up, it was time for ‘Santa’ to get going with the presents. Of course the parents had forgotten to get those out of the car, where they had been hiding it for almost a month! Cursing themselves, one went out in the cold to get those presents and then the two got together to wrap those and put bows on. The mom and the dad laughed a lot too thinking about the crazy evening just a couple of hours ago and talked about how things were when they were growing up. When all was done and the tree looked complete with the presents around it, they also talked about how at that moment there were kids all over the world who had gone to bed hungry and cold.  They spoke briefly about how things just did not seem to make sense anymore but then they also spoke about how people all around the world were rallying for such kids in their own little or big way. And that mattered. That made a difference for sure. And it may take a while to see the difference, but they believed in their hearts that a difference was being made every moment by thoughtful people who walk the ordinary life everyday and continue to participate in making this world a better place, a place where the innocence of children is not shattered by growling stomachs.

The mom, dad, the little boy and the baby girl wish you all happiness and peace, today and always.

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The Year That Was

This is the year that has gone by the fastest- is what I tell myself every December. Because it truly does seem that way. And so, as this year is closing to an end, I have been thinking along the exact same lines and trying to pause to reflect on what has been. Not for any revelation or grandness of any sorts, but simply because I fear I let a lot of precious moments pass by me because I was too busy trying to make things as close to perfect as possible. Does it happen to you? Do moments pass by and you realize it only later?

A lot has happened in this last year, the most significant being we became a family of four from a family of three and, we are filled with gratitude. It has been a busy year of learning and unlearning things, as is every year and it has been a positive year so far. But when I step outside of this little cocoon of ours, so many people continue to be in pain, in suffering that it at times feels selfish to be wanting a new pair of shoes. Refugees continue to fight for existence all around the world, for acceptance, for recognition; families continue to be torn apart by practices that are inhumane; the “I” reigns supreme and our glaciers continue to melt, religion still divides and turns friends into foes. Pretty grim picture…right?  How to come out of this, I wonder.

The clock keeps ticking and with that, my mind travels in so many directions, trying to hold together thoughts- thoughts that want to talk about that beautiful sunset I had watched hiking among the mountains near a remote village near Osaka many years ago and the cathartic effect it had on me; thoughts that want to talk about my desire to travel around the world with my camera; thoughts that want to talk about how crazy it gets at times as a stay-at-home mom and not working; thoughts that want to talk about all the ‘what-ifs’ that got left out from the pages of the life. And then there are thoughts that are grateful and happy and silly and together, the good and the not-so-good continue to help carry on.

I have never done a ‘year-in-review’ post (not even when I had an account on Facebook) as I have felt I have not accomplished a lot as compared to the others. But I am changing that, as I am changing a lot of things, and one of the first things in that list would be- to let go and not overthink!  I am sharing with you some of my favorite clicks of the year ( starting a tad bit early- Nov ‘18) and  life’s big and little moments that are all special in their own unique way! I was inspired by some of my fellow bloggers (check their links….gorgeous photos!) and I am thankful for that:)

 

Nov-Dec ’18: Our baby girl joined us to be part of our everyday adventure and the big brother has been as caring and loving as possible, from the first moment they ‘met’. I had wanted to capture a good sunset on the 31st of Dec but this was the only one I could manage.

 

Jan ’19- Our little boy turned four and we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary- we share the date! My parents showered all their love and more in taking care of us as we adjusted to the new routine. And we celebrated not only our wedding anniversary but theirs as well and it was the first time in 10 years that I was with them on their anniversary…such an awesome feeling! Also, I baked a fruit cake for the first time:)

 

Feb-Mar ’19: The good man and I went on our first ‘date’ after a veeeery long time and though it was for a total of 30 mins and the whole time I panicked for the baby at home, it was like a breath of fresh air:) We had a lot of snow again, something that my parents got tired of, but never complained having to stay cooped up indoors for all the months they stayed here. Our little boy started spelling on his own and I baked one of my most favorite cakes- the red velvet cake, also for the first time!

 

Apr-May ’19: My favorite season for taking photos and this spring, I took more photos than I had ever done before.

 

June-July ’19: I took photos of more flowers than I can ever remember having clicked and that was something new for me. Our little boy completed his pre-school and from the teary eyed kid who had walked in unsure into the classroom last September, he soon became this kid who couldn’t wait to go to school every day. Our baby girl had her “annoprashon“( a ceremony that takes place when a baby turns 5-6 months and gets a taste of her first solid food typically ‘payesh‘- which is a type of a pudding, made with milk, white rice and sugar. This is an important celebration as it marks her introduction to solid food) and it was a whole lot of fun dressing her up:) My father- in-law and mother-in-law were here to celebrate as was my sister-in-law and her family. It was surely a special occasion.

 

Aug-Sept ’19: It was about sunsets and rain drops, apple picking and our first picnic,  solitary red leaf and the unmistakable blue sky, heralding the beginning of Fall.

 

Sept-Oct ’19: The little boy started Pre-K, we had beautiful evenings in the park running around and we made memories as a family during our first Durga Puja together. The good man carved our first jack-o’-lantern.

 

Nov-Dec ’19: Our baby girl turned one, mastered climbing up the stairs and brother and sister have been just in their own world, laughing and rolling around! There has been baking and decorating too, while the last signs of fall and the start of winter gave me opportunities for clicking some photos around the neighborhood. Our baby girl also just got her ears pierced and I still can’t wrap my head around that!

 

We make our memories and they are for us to enjoy whenever we want to. Sharing that happiness adds to the feeling of gratefulness. We learn so much along the way from each other that distances don’t seem to matter that much…our shared narrative keeps us together. This year that we are set to bid adieu to, ends a decade and we begin another one with the new year. It was a year, for me, of ups and downs as it was for all of us, probably. And while I generally don’t do ‘what-did-I-learn-this-year’, I am inclined to do one this time. I have been showered with more love than my heart could hold and I have been made to feel the exact opposite as well- unworthy of the slightest recognition; I have felt on top of the world and I have also succumbed to postpartum depression; I have laughed till my sides ached and I have cried till no more tears came. And all of that has helped me understand a tad bit more the slippery slope of our relationship with life. It is never going to be perfect and neither are the people in it.  I read somewhere recently that ‘mindful life is not about the next moment. It’s about the present one’.  It is so easy to read these quotes and get inspired and feel energized but it’s a whole different ballgame trying to put that into practice, to live by it. But when you think about it, is it really that difficult? I have been taking baby steps towards this and while it does feel daunting at times to live in the moment only, probably because we are not used to that, it has been invigorating for the mind. Letting go of feelings that harbor negativity is another lesson I am going to be taking along with me to the new year and perhaps letting such people go as well! This year has brought me many things but the gift it has brought me more than ever is a new perspective. Many things were not part of the plan but they happened anyways. Some brought joy while others were downright painful. But they happened. And my wishing otherwise did not prevent them from taking place. And then a new day also came and better things brightened up the grey. What have I learned, you may ask. I have learned to accept and move on, I have learned to keep my faith and know that it will work out, I have learned to not stop trying in spite of all signs pointing at the opposite, I have learned to keep breathing. I have learned to pause a little when needed and ask for help, I have learned to trust more and appreciate more. I am still learning. Learning from my kids, from the good man I share this life with, from my parents who I watch from oceans apart, from the kindest neighbor one could possibly have, from that friend who will run to my side if I ever asked her and the 8000 miles between us would not matter.

Life is unpredictable, but it still is beautiful. It submerges us in its never ending waves but also teaches us to ride along and ride out. It lays quiet at times and then springs on us moments that are unexpected and unsought, some euphoric while others woeful, but all riveting nonetheless. Learning to ride along and ride out is what keeps our love affair with this life so gripping.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful year ahead. May we crank up the music a little louder and dance if we want to, or take up a new challenge and not be afraid of failing; may we never stop being kind but also protect ourselves from being taken advantage of because of that kindness; may we keep moving ahead with the sure, albeit a bit wobbly,  steps and may we know we are all in this together. It’s going to be okay!

What are some of your takeaways from this year? Did you stumble upon something new about yourself that took you by surprise? Would love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by.