Category: Write Tribe

In search of an exercise routine

In search of an exercise routine

‘You need to exercise’, a small voice tells me as I settle down on the sofa with my glass of warm lemon water. It’s Sunday morning and exercise is the last thing on my mind.
‘But it’s Sunday’, another part of my brain argues.
‘You started going to the gym yesterday so it’s just Day 2, it’s not like you’re exhausted by a whole week of exercise’.

That’s true, of course.

I look down longingly at the newspapers on my lap and Ranjit Lal beckons me from one of the Sunday magazines.
‘The children will be up soon and there’s so much to be done…,’ I begin.
‘Half an hour,’ cuts in that other voice, ‘the children will sleep through.’

That’s true too.

It’s the last day of their Diwali vacation and they have already told me they want to spend a ‘lazy day’ as if the other days have been full of hectic activity!

Anyway, I pull on my sneakers reluctantly, then realise I’ve put the milk for boiling.
‘You can boil that later’, says the voice even before I can open my mouth to put in an excuse.

‘It’ll be crowded and there’s just one treadmill,’ I muse as I wait for the lift to come up to my floor, wondering if I should just squash that voice and go back to my sofa.
‘You can cycle or lift weights till then’ the voice is insistent.
I hold on to my resolve with every ounce of my will-power and get into the lift.

Finally, I make it to the clubhouse and find the gym empty, which is a bit of relief and not really surprising.

Forty minutes later, I am back, brimming with endorphins, to find the children still sleeping.

When did exercising become such a chore for me? I wonder as I sit down with my cup of tea.

I have exercised almost all my life. The gym has been my go-to place. I’ve tried everything there – cardio, weights, aerobics, a little bit of kickboxing, some Bollywood and Salsa too – though it all seemed the same with my two left feet and the focus was always simply on exercising.

A few years back I discovered Zumba and I thought I had found my ‘thing’. Zumba didn’t seem to mind that I had two left feet or that I had no clue what the lyrics of those songs were. I loved it and I never missed a session.

Then I injured my foot and it took a long time to heal and that was that. I moved to yoga and have been at it for almost a year. It’s fun but it doesn’t give me the high of a Zumba class or the happy sweat of a good run on the treadmill or a long brisk walk.

And that’s how I turned into a very reluctant ‘exerciser’. Weirdly enough, I find each time I leave off my exercise routine, my diet goes haywire too.

You know those people who wake up every day pledging earnestly to begin a serious exercise routine and then give up as the day wears on? Well, I have been that person for a while now. It’s been next week, next month, after the kids’ exams, after Diwali, after the holidays and so on.

Meanwhile, the weight has piled up and stamina has hit rock bottom. So finally, yet again, I started off this Saturday with a new routine. Twice I’ve taken up swanky annual gym memberships only to abandon them midway. This time I’ll stick to the one in our apartment complex – it’s small and just about functional but it has everything I need to make a start. What’s more, it’s a minute’s walk away and is open almost through the day. Like I mentioned earlier most days I have it all to myself. I’m hoping that will take care of all my excuses. Today was Day3 and I’m hoping, putting this out here will somehow strengthen my resolve to keep at it.

I’m simply aiming to keep going every day – even if it’s for half an hour.

Today is the last day of the Write tribe Problogger Challenge and I had something entirely different planned but this was so top of the mind for me I had to get it out.

Have you struggled with an exercise routine ever? How did you motivate yourself to stick with it?

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Picture credit: Pixabay

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

and with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

It was N who reminded me that one activity on her list of ‘things to do after exams’ was pending. With just a weekend left for school to reopen we are struggling to get through said list. She had labelled this activity ‘N and mama day’. That reminded me of my resolve to set aside separate ‘we time’ for each child. Despite my best intentions that hasn’t happened frequently enough.

Though we try hard to look out for both of them, they do end up sharing a lot more than just their room. Individual attention is not always possible.

Why it is so tough

Even if you have a single child you might like to think about how much time you set aside to spend with him or her alone, away from your gadgets and chores, when you give the child your complete attention doing something he or she enjoys as much as you do. With two children (or more) it becomes even more difficult to make time for each one separately.

First, there are practical issues, specially in a nuclear family like mine where another family member isn’t around to be with the other child. Then there’s the fact that H and N suffer from a huge case of FOMO only and only when the other sibling is involved. So handling the ‘why not me?’ is hard.

However, they are growing up

…which is a great thing because they’re old enough to be left alone. Their interests are becoming more defined and diverse and they’re getting less clingy.

That they still clamour for alone time with me is extremely gratifying. It also makes me ever so aware of the time when they won’t want me around at all and reminds me to make the most of this time.

We are able to hold more meaningful conversations and share deeper secrets. That makes talking-to them ever so satisfying. Oh, they have plenty of secrets to share. You’d be surprised about the things they tell me when we’re alone. I have to remind myself constantly to keep my face impassive and my comments non-committal but It really is a lot of fun.

Also, I am hoping these moments will be the building blocks for the time when they will really need advice or support for serious issues as they enter their teens.

Here are a few more reasons why a one-on-one is such a great idea.

Why one-on-one time with each of your children is a great idea Click To Tweet

It is the best time to share secrets

If I were to name one single reason for alone time this would be it. One might think siblings, specially twins, would share their deepest darkest secrets with each other. Not true. I find they open their hearts much more readily when they are alone with me. We’ve talked about troublesome teachers and bullying coaches, heartbreak over lost friendships and all kinds of real and imagined insults.

It gives them a sense of ‘self’

Since when the children were babies I’ve encouraged them to be their own selves, to not be clubbed as two parts of a whole. Alone time reinforces the fact that as a parent I appreciate them separately for what they truly are.

It is great for their self-esteem

..because for that half hour or one hour they have mine or The Husband’s complete attention. And that tells them how important they are.

It helps ease off sibling rivalry

Individual attention takes away the need for them to fight for it. Oh it’ll be ages before they admit it, even to themselves. Don’t we all grow up believing our parents love the other sibling more? However, I am hoping once they realise they don’t have to fight for our attention the edge shall wear off their rivalry.

It is extremely relaxing as a parent

..because this is the one time I can agree or disagree with that one child without worrying about appeasing the other. It’s a huge relief to focus on one child’s needs, his triumphs and failures even if it is for a little while only. Also, I’m not sure this holds for everyone but my children are the soul of decency when they’re separated from their twin. They offer to carry my bags, aren’t fussy about food, pick up thoughtful gifts for the other one and even refuse a second helping of ice-cream!

And so we’ll be heading out to the mall for some girl-time. After all that ‘Things to do after exams’ list is sacrosanct.

Do you make an effort to spend a one-on-one time with your child? What’s your favourite ‘together’ activity?

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Here’s a scrumptiously wonderful book every tween is going to love. All Four Stars is the story of Gladys Gatsby, an eleven-year-old who is passionate about cooking. Her parents, on the other hand, are not. They are both working and don’t have the time or inclination to cook. The family lives on terrible takeaways.

However, Gladys cooks up complicated delicacies in secret, when her parents are away at work. All is well until one day when her parents walk in just as she accidentally sets fire to the kitchen curtains while making Creme Brûlée. As a result of that singularly bad piece of luck, she’s banned from further cooking experiments and her allowance is taken away.

Then, through a quirk of fate, she lands an assignment as a food critic in a frontline newspaper. The catch is – getting to that restaurant which is a train-ride away from the suburb where Gladys lives. Confiding in her parents and asking for help is out of the question. So how does she do it?

This is a story delicious enough to sate the most demanding of gourmands.

It’s a perfect read-aloud book
Each night after dinner, we’d sit with this one, the children and I, reading it aloud. The descriptions of food made H hungry while N started dreaming of a career as a food critic.

What I liked
The descriptions of food were absolutely delectable. The good ones (that she had at Parm’s house or out at restaurants) were mouth-watering but it’s the bad ones that H and N enjoyed most because they were hilariously funny.

I loved that Gladys sampled and enjoyed all kinds of food – African, Malaysian and Indian too. She has an Indian friend and the rather foreign descriptions of familiar Indian foods like chhole and raita and palak paneer had the children completely thrilled.

If you’ve read any of my earlier reviews you’ll know I love a book with great side-characters. All Four Stars had many of them – Sandy, Gladys’ friend and neighbour, Parm, her Indian friend, Charissa the most popular girl at school, the kind Mr Eng who runs a cosy grocery and patisserie and Mrs Anderson, Sandy’s adorable mom. Although some of them are rather stereotypical they all manage to do something to redeem themselves, to break the stereotype. That, I was grateful for.

There are bits on friendship – on making and keeping friends – on shared secrets and making plans which the children completely loved.

If I have one complaint it would be that the author didn’t do justice to the parents. They come across as uni-dimensional, too taken up with their work, barely bothered about their daughter and rather unkind. They did get better towards the end of the book, though, so that was something.

We talked about
Whether the punishment Gladys got was fair/unfair.
Could Gladys have done things differently? Perhaps, taken the help of other sympathetic adults.

What we did
– We read up all kinds of cuisines that Gladys talks of.
– We pored (and salivated) endlessly over food pictures.
– We made up a game of trying to describe a food to someone who had never known Indian cuisine.
– And we tried baking.

This book came to us through Enchantico – a delightful book-activity box we subscribed to. Read my review of the box here. It came with a cookie recipe, premixed flour as well as cookie cutters.

With all that help we had to try our hand at baking. The first batch came out near perfect. But then we got caught up in something and ended up burning down the next one and had to rush around dousing the flames in the oven.

So you see, there really is never any guarantee with cookies but the book – that’s a sure shot winner.

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

Confessions of a secret hoarder

Confessions of a secret hoarder

Didi yeh phek doon?’ (Shall I throw this?) queries the maid pointing at my stash of old jam jars. It’s Diwali and the cleaning frenzy is on.

Thanks to the children’s exams I have managed to turn a blind eye to it all. Each time my conscience knocked at the door nudging me towards cleaning, I quietened it with a self-righteous stare that said, ‘Can’t you see how stressed I am? Cleaning is so not a priority.’

Now with the exams over and done with and less than a week to go for Diwali, the knocking has turned rather insistent and I have nowhere to hide. My conscience stands right there staring at me, broom in one hand wash-cloth in the other. No matter how hard I try to hide behind my books and my laptop there’s no escaping her steely gaze.

Come Diwali my conscience stands staring at me, broom in one hand wash-cloth in the other. Click To Tweet

And then there’s my maid…
Somedays I feel sorry for her. She’s constantly puzzled with the things that classify as ‘DO NOT THROW’ in our house. Normally she turns a blind eye to our quirks and the things we hoard. However, with Diwali, she cannot seem to hold herself back. She has a conscience too after all.

For the past week, each day she has tackled a new part of my house dragging out things which she thinks need to be thrown – jam jars, used up tissue rolls, wine bottles, dried twigs, pine cones, big and small cardboard boxes, bits of coloured tiles and oddly shaped stones. And she asks me the same question over and over again ‘Didi yeh phek doon?’

The sane part of me says, ‘Yes, Yes Yes get rid of it all’ and then there’s this other part that says — ‘ooh that red stone’s the one we picked up at Vetal Tekdi, the day we spent an hour waiting for peacocks, it’s so pretty. I need those twigs we picked on our morning walks for that DIY project I’ve been planning for ages and the tissue rolls were to go into the making of a grand castle. As for the jam jars, they are such a DIYers delight, they certainly cannot be thrown.

So then, I fake a nonchalance I’m far from feeling, and I shake my head in a No, pretending not to see the maid’s incredulous look. She sighs in exasperation, satisfies herself with sweeping out the dust and replaces all my treasures where they’ll be safe till next year’s cleaning.

And now I must go for she’s at the shoe rack, picking out my favourite yellow canvas shoes, the ones that were gifted by my sister years ago, the ones I love to death even though they’re faded beyond recognition to a dull ochre. But they are such a perfect fit with not a scratch on them. I fully intend to refurbish them, paint them over and stencil them with a butterfly design – I’ve known the exact one for years now. I just haven’t gotten around to it. So ‘No’ I tell her before she can ask me that question yet again, ‘Wapas rakh do’ (put them back).

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not to glorify hoarding or procrastinating either, those are serious ailments of the mind, I understand that. The idea is:

One, to go soft on the children when I find them hoarding unexplained things. I’m sure it makes some kind of sense to them.

Two, maybe putting it out there will push me to some kind of action and I’ll put at least one of my DIY ideas in motion.

And lastly, maybe someday, years later, I stumble upon this post and if I still haven’t gotten around to painting those yellow shoes with that butterfly motif, maybe I’ll realise that I really need to throw them away.

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

A happy sidekick

A happy sidekick

This past weekend I was demoted from my undisputed seat as the main villain to a very contented sidekick. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let me explain.

The children’s exams are in progress – they go on for three whole weeks. During all of that time, I transform into the main villain (or vamp, if you like to nitpick) of their lives.

With the long weekend, The Husband came home and rather unsuspectingly,  offered to help them with their Math, which he is quite good at.

Since he’s out most of the time he has no clue that being good at something and teaching that same something to two reluctant and distracted tweens who have much else going on in their lives and who do not have ‘exams’ in the top 10 or even 20 places of their priority list, are two very different things.

Anyhow not one to refuse a good thing when I see it, I handed over the reins to him with a heart full of gratitude.

It started off pretty well. The children were on their better behaviour and The Husband was all enthu too. However ten minutes into the lesson and N had already visited the washroom twice while H had his head stuck in the refrigerator complaining, ‘We never have anything interesting to eat’ – yeah, twice within ten minutes.

All the while the poor man sat twiddling his thumbs ready to walk them through their LCMs and HCFs, his enthusiasm waning rapidly. I could see where this was headed.

I hustled H back to the study table only to find he had no exercise book and his pen had run out of ink. Off he went looking for them.

Meanwhile, N was still in the washroom. ‘I think I have an upset stomach’, she announced when she finally stepped out, suspiciously redolent with talcum and cream, not at all looking like someone whose stomach wasn’t in perfect working order. When The Husband pointed out that she didn’t look unwell, she answered with profound wisdom that her stomach was not well on the inside. ‘It doesn’t show, you know,’ she explained.

H meanwhile had returned with a pen, which turned out to be N’s and if you have two children you’ll know where that is going. The LCM and HCF were quite forgotten as The Husband focussed on maintaining peace while clutching onto his fast evaporating patience.

I didn’t blame him one bit when the lid finally blew off. And at that exact moment I was displaced from my main villain’s seat and relegated to a sidekick’s place – a much-preferred sidekick with a very soft heart, I might add. Like a faithful sidekick, I thoroughly enjoyed adding my two bits here and there, ‘Listen to papa’, ‘Get your own pen, please’ and so on without raising my blood pressure one tiny notch.

Half an hour later, peace had descended, the children though sulking still, were getting along with their sums while The Husband begged me for a cup of tea because ‘his throat was all dry.’

I have to admit handling the children isn’t half as bad when one doesn’t have to do it himself/herself. In fact, it can be quite an enjoyable thing, funny even, if you’re watching the whole ‘performance’ from the sidelines.

 

PS: I didn’t even know I had a sadistic streak. I swear I had no clue till this weekend.

PSS: We still have another week to go, The Husband’s gone and I’m back in the main villain’s seat. Pray for me, please.

 

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Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

 

and with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

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