Author: obsessivemom

Adieu April #GratitudeCircle

Adieu April #GratitudeCircle

April always is the most eventful month of all. This is the time that the children finish their exams, get to see their papers and we travel to Lucknow.

This year we also changed houses (in the same city though).

We hadn’t shifted in a decade so it was a huge step. The amount of clutter we accumulate is amazing. I am pretty proud to say that for once I gave the hoarder in me a rest and got rid of quite a bit of it. Nope, it wasn’t easy but having done it I feel lighter and happier.

Settling in the new house remains a work in progress since we left things midway to make the annual trip to our hometown. That’s something I like to think of as non-negotiable. Not only do two sets of parents wait for us anxiously each year, but also it is my annual recharge more than any other holiday I take through the year.

April was a busy month

What with shuttling between hardware stores picking out things for the new house and coordinating with carpenters while also trying to help the children with their studies, April was crazy. The pressure took much of the fun out of doing up the house but in the end I’m grateful most of it is done. It’s going to be a while before I get the new house in order but I have to keep telling myself that there’s no hurry. 

Grateful for friends I left behind

While saying goodbye was hard it was gratifying to realise how very many connections I’d made over the years without even realising it. The farewells from friends, acquaintances and everyone in between were warm and heartfelt.

The new house

is something I cannot but be grateful for. There’s something exciting and happy about doing up a new home despite the work it entails. The curtains have to go up and the ACs fixed but most of all I’m looking forward to re-organising 12 whole cartons of books. I’ve saved it up for the last as a delicious pleasure. And I’d love for ideas on how to organise them. Should I go author-wise or genre-wise or should it be according to the continent they’re set it? This is going to be fun!

Yup, books are the mainstay of my happiness

Through the crazy last month it was reading, friends and reading-with-friends that kept me happy. I don’t think I’ve spoken about it earlier, but I’d been longing to join a book club – a real live one – for a long long time. Finally, at a cafe near my new home, one was launched and obviously I was there at the very first meeting. It was as wonderful as I’d imagined and I’m looking forward to happy times.

I also buddy read 1984 by George Orwell. This was my third time reading it and I managed to do so without skipping a single page. That was a bit of a feat because it gets heavy and pedantic in bits. It was good to chart my progress along with that of others and that kept me going.

And now I’m home

..shuttling between multiple homes, for I have more than one here in Lucknow. Somedays when I’m torn between how I should divide my time between the large family I wish everyone lived in different cities so I could have undivided time with everyone. However, in my saner moments I realise how wonderful it is to have them close by, despite the time-management I have to do. I’m set for flitting between my parents’ home and my in-laws’ as also those of uncles and aunts and cousins and childhood friends. I know the month shall fly past and I’m looking forward to it.

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

 

Do you have five minutes?

Do you have five minutes?

I’d been lying awake for a while, waiting for the alarm to ring. When it did, I gave it a five minute snooze. And I slept off. Till I was awakened with a start by the second alarm. That five-minute nap seems so much longer because it is the deepest most peaceful of all.

Another day I had to make a start on an assignment I was not looking forward to, and my laptop beckoned alluringly. ‘Five minutes’ I told myself, ‘I’ll check FB/Twitter for five minutes.’ Lo and behold before I knew it, an hour had flown by!

Five minutes is a truly miraculous time-span, able to stretch and shrink at will or so it would seem. It never really is ‘five minutes’ as your clock tells you.

As a mom to twin almost-teens ‘Five minutes, please’ ranges right up there in the list of most annoying statements ever along with ‘Chill mom’ and ‘Sup mom’.

And then quite by accident I stumbled upon the the five-minute rule to beat procrastination. Yup the same five minutes that I thought were a procrastinator’s BFF can be used to beat it.

It was Instagram Founder Kevin Systrom’s who came up with this idea. Here’s how it works: When you come across a task you dislike or think of as too tough to handle (managing laundry for me, cleaning the room for the kids) all you do is tell yourself you have to do it for just five minutes.

Two things may happen – you might do it for five minutes and stop, in which case you would have at least made a start. Also, you’ll realise how much you really can do in five minutes.

However, chances are you’re going to continue doing the task for much longer, maybe even to completion.

The thing is, a task looks insurmountable only till you don’t dig into it. Once there, it often isn’t as hard as you imagined and you tend to keep going at it.

We’re changing houses this summer and that means lots of decluttering, of opening drawers never opened before and taking down books and knick-knacks I am not even sure what to do with. I am tempted to pack everything up and take it along, while also realising that this is the best decluttering opportunity I’ll ever have. The five-minute-rule has helped me get a grip on things.

I tried it. It works.

It’s exam time. Again.

It’s exam time. Again.

If you’re a somewhat regular reader here you’ll know that exams have a way of bringing out the creative side of H and N. They suddenly remember all their half-done or thought-of-but-never-done projects which must be launched/completed right away. Case in point: Last year N wrote a 5000 word story during her exams.

Here’s what they’ve been up to during this new and exciting exam month.

H found a new hobby

The son has developed a fascination for countries and flags and the wars of the world. So while I am teaching him the Circulatory System he suddenly comes up with ‘Do you know about the Balkan war?’ Or ‘Were you born before the Cold War’. Or while I’m helping him negotiate the Rennaisance Period he’ll suddenly run to the map to check where exactly a country is.

 

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I blew my fuse each time until finally I allowed him to do his own research during his afternoon break. I wonder how he crams in all his course work along with so much not-really-necessary information. I have to admit though that it’s darned interesting.
PS: Did you know El Salvador and Honduras actually had a war over football?

and N has a million things on her mind

The doll needs a new wardrobe. What to do? Clothes have to be made, no? She cannot wear rags till end of exams, right? So she sits chopping up socks and embellishing them with ribbons and sequins to dress up her doll. And there’s nail paint. I smell it even before she opens it, not that she’s making a secret of it anyway. ‘I’m not applying any,’ she explains when I ask her to put it away, ‘just counting.’ And of course periodic nail-paint inventory is so important. Who knows new ones might have been born over night.

Together they have revived their ‘exam’ hobbies

The children have a whole set of hobbies that they indulge in strictly during exams. Top of the list would be cooking – the cake-in-a-cup is an almost daily affair. And of course there’s maggi.

Then there are birthday plans

To have two parties or three, that is the question. ‘We should have one for each of us with our friends, and one with family,’ explains N. The date is still two months away. I have two months to figure out how to bring the number down to one.

Travel plans

are afoot too as we plan our annual summer visit to our hometown. N has made out a meticulous list of things she needs to pack down to her ‘airport look’ without even knowing it’s a thing.

Finally there’s the after exam party

which is being planned since even before the exam time-table was announced. H has invitations from at least two friends and that’s fortunate because N wants to have friends over. Interestingly, the twain just do not mix despite them being in the same class (and section).

All of this would have pretty much driven the old me up the wall but the new me takes it all in her stride. You might find me discussing N’s novel with her or listening to H’s long winding stories of the most vicious wars.

Yup Nirvana, I’m almost there!

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

Technically April is the exam month but actually it’s March that’s the toughest one because anticipation is always worse/better than the real thing. Right? 

All of March we’re making timetables, failing to stick with them (because daily school assignments are still coming in), constantly remaking, readjusting and generally struggling to get through the portion.

However once exams kick off things fall into place.

Contrary to what the children believe, I’d much rather let them play all day than get them to study, I’d much rather they be outdoors than cooped up inside grumpy and grouchy, I’d much rather curl up with a book myself than drive them to theirs.

Not that they’d ever believe it but March really isn’t the easiest of months for any of us.

Couple that with plans of changing houses this year and you’ll know why things have been rather stormy. Like I’ve said before I’m not a great multitasker so managing the children’s exams as well as the nitty-gritties of getting the new house ready, proved a bit much.

So what’s there to be grateful for you might wonder. Lots actually, when one thinks about it.

The new house

It hasn’t been smooth sailing all month – what house can be made without a few upsets? Yet, almost always, rather miraculously, things have set themselves right by the end of each day. There was just one day that I lost sleep and that because I was reading a rather disturbing book, nothing at all to do with either the exams or the house. That’s some thing to be grateful for.

New found independence

I used to have these horrifying visions of sifting through college-level portions of unfamiliar subjects teaching twenty-something H and N. Mercifully that nightmare may just not come true. Thanks to my pre-occupation with the house I have had to leave them to manage their studies on their own and they didn’t disappoint entirely. Each year I see them become just a little bit more independent and that gives me heart.

And camaraderie

In another, rather significant development, they’ve also helped each other out, though those experiments haven’t always been successful. The other day I asked H to help N with something. To his credit the poor boy tried but she kept giggling and refusing to pay attention. I realised it was a bad move when I heard him threatening her with, ‘Tell me or I’ll punch you’ and ‘Tell me or I’ll cut off your hair’ with such vehemence that I had to abandon whatever I was doing and take right over.

Conversations

Exams might be a bit of a trial but I have to admit the one thing I like is that the we’re together more than we are otherwise. You see the contradiction? I want to curl up with my book and not bother about them and yet I love it when we spend time together even though a lot of it involves being driven up the wall.

The thing is exams are a break from the normal school-homework-play-sleep cycle. They’re home more often. We go for walks in the night after we wrap up for the day and we talk.. a lot, about everything under the sun. And I love that.

Acceptance

I’ve sort of made peace with the way they study. I understand that they aren’t anything like my sister and I used to be. I understand that they won’t be glued to their books like we used to be. I’ve come to be grateful for the fact that they aren’t stressed out of their minds. I am also learning to make peace with the idea that perhaps that will affect their scores, but I have to be okay with it.

It’s not an ideal situation but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m just grateful the children have been happy and healthy, the rest, I hope, shall follow.

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

N sits on the sofa in front of the television, her plate of food balanced on her knee, the remote in her hand.

‘May I watch TV?’ she asks.

Exams are two weeks away and the children have a Chemistry test the next day – that’s all I can think of as I take in her perfunctory query and her expectant gaze.

It’s hard, but ‘No,’ say I, ‘Eat your food at the dining table then get back to revision.’
Her face sets in a stubborn line and I realise it’s going to be one of ‘those’ days.
‘Why can’t I watch TV till I eat? I can’t study as I eat anyway.’
‘Because we talk while we eat and we catch up with papa,’ say I referring to our nightly Duo chats with the Husband. It’s a bit of a ritual that I’m reluctant to let go.

‘I don’t want to talk’, she replies.

H chips in bringing his best arguments.
‘Only for 15 minutes, till we eat and then we’ll get back, promise,’ he pleads.
‘No’, say I.
‘I won’t eat at the table. I’ll eat on the sofa,’ says N, not willing to give up with at least one small victory.
‘That’s fine by me’, say I picking my battles.

Ten minutes later, I’ve finished dinner. N sits with her plate full, dinner untouched.

I take up my book and walk away to my room.

After a while I hear the twins talking at the dining table as they finish eating.

Then, the door to my room opens slowly.

It’s N.

‘I’m sorry mama’, says she.
‘It’s okay’, I reply.
‘Are you angry’
‘No’
‘Can you smile please?’
I smile at her.
‘I’m sorry’, she reiterates. ‘I’m sorry I was rude and angry. It’s all these teenage hormones you know’.
I have to laugh out at that, at my little wise soon-to-be-teenager.

It’s a battle won – not against the kids, never that, it’s the battle against my temper that I’ve won.

The war is on.

*******

Trying my hand at Slice of Life writing.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

The Bluest Eye #BookReview

The Bluest Eye #BookReview

Book: The Bluest EyeAuthor: Toni Morrison 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove believes she’s ugly. And nothing can change that. Nothing at all. Unless … unless she could trade in her eyes for beautiful blue ones. Now if she had those blue eyes, things would be different; because then, everyone would love her.