Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just Letting Go on a Wednesday...

This week has been more hectic than usual and that is saying a lot...I got back end of last week from a trip to Atlanta...the onset of a cold imminent (infuriates me how not immune my body is sometimes for all my purported healthy living)...K1 left on Saturday for London and K2 and I had the weekend and more to drive each other crazy...just getting through my day - lunch box, snack bag, work deliverables,  single threaded kid duties and To-Do Lists have been hard and  today was feeling just a wee bit dejected and morose... ready to throw myself a pity party (Hello! Glass of Wine)  I see this post from one of the wonderful moms at school...Thank You R !!! Sharing it so that it helps more folks than just me...

She let go. 
Without a thought or a word,
she let go. She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments. She
let go of the confluence of
opinions swarming around her

head. She let go of the committee

of indecision within her. She let
go of all the 'right' reasons.
Wholly and completely, without
hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn't ask anyone for advice .

She didn't read a book on how to
let go. She didn't search the
scriptures. She just let go. She let
go of all the memories that held
her back. She let go of all the
anxiety that kept her from moving
forward. She let go of the
planning and all of the
calculations about how to 
do it just right.
She didn't promise to let go. She
didn't journal about it. She didn't
write the projected date in her
Day-Timer. She made no public
announcement and put no ad in
the paper. She didn't check the
weather report or read her daily
horoscope. She just let go.
She didn't analyze whether she
should let go. She didn't call her
friends to discuss the matter. She
didn't do a five-step Spiritual
Mind Treatment. She didn't call
the prayer line. She didn't utter
one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it
happened. There was no
applause or congratulations. No
one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing. Like a
leaf falling from a tree, she just
let go. There was no effort. There
was no struggle. It wasn't good
and it wasn't bad. It was what it
was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let
it all be. A small smile came over
her face. A light breeze blew
through her. And the sun and the
moon shone forevermore....
~ Reverend Safire Rose

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tentative Parenting : What's Eating your Child?

Between tricky restaurant choices, finicky eaters, and the desire to provide healthy, nourishing food, taking the kids out to eat can drive any parent crazy!  Every restaurant that I go to gives me the choice of mac & cheese, some form of grilled cheese sandwich, cheese burger or chicken tenders for K2...YES! I am getting on a soap box son hangs on to the kid's menu for dear life and refuses to order from the grown-up menu and I refuse to let him order from the kid's menu...we were at impasse for a long time --- now it's a matter of negotiation and which one of us is more persistent than the whole premise is - A parent taking their child out to eat should not be put in such a predicament where they feel like the Kid's Meal is deficient in nutrients, unhealthy and quite plainly a rip-off. Here's a spotlight example of my son's kid's meal at Outback Steakhouse last week (white bread with fake yellow cheese)....even my son realized it was unhealthy -- he hid as I was taking this picture of the food :-)

I  always go back to Jamie Oliver's Ted Talk - Teach Every Kid about Food - he says we have blessed our children with shorter lives because we are not making them mindfully aware of real food. Over the weekend as an ode to the real food warriors I made my son a dinner chockful of vegetables and real food and was desi (indian) to the boot. It was Kid's Pav Bhaji.

If you want to try my recipe at home here's how -

You will need - I used up most of the veggies in my fridge ( 1 head of Cauliflower, 8 multi-colored Carrots, 2 Green Bell Peppers, 1 Large White Potato, 2 Red Onions,  3 Tomatoes, Cilantro, Ginger and Garlic ), Olive Oil, Everest Pav Bhaji Masala (found in the Indian Grocery Store), Amul Cheese (sent by my MIL all the way from India), Beckmann's California Black Bread ( my son's favorite bread which is whole-grained made with wheatberries and honey)

What I did - 

  • Clean and cut the vegetables - Cauliflower, Carrots, Bell Pepper and Potato. Pressure cook with a little bit of vegetable stock for 1 whistle (traditional pressure cooker). If you are cooking on open flame cook till you can mash all the vegetables together. Mash the vegetable and keep aside
  • Finely chop the onions, tomatoes, 5 cloves of garlic and a little ginger stick. Add 2 tsp Olive Oil to the pan and add (according to your taste) - cumin seeds and a little bit of hing. Now add in the chopped Onions, Ginger and Garlic. When the Onion starts browning  add in the tomatoes. Add the Everest Pav Bhaji Masala and cook till you see a little bit of the oil separating and it seems like a good cohesive mix (5-10 minutes)
  • Now add in the mashed vegetables and cook for a while (5-10 minutes). Add Salt & Chili Powder to taste (for my son's portion I added no chili powder). I then added some fresh lemon juice and cilantro.
  • Cut the Beckmann's Bread -- grated Amul Cheese on top and baked in my toaster over.
My son (the pizza and pasta loving kiddo) actually adored this meal. 

Notes to myself - My son will be mindful and aware about food only as much as I will encourage him to be mindful and aware of it - I take him to the Farmer's Market, I drag him grocery shopping, I teach him about Vegetables, Fruits, Spices....I also tell him about foods that are good for him and foods that are bad for him. Sometimes I let him make the wrong choices aware that he is making the wrong choice but with the hope that he will self-correct --- Do you have any thoughts on Kid's Meals and the meals you make for your Kids?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Healthy Eating : Beans Two Ways

"Beans...Beans...Healthy for the Heart,
The more you eat them...the more you fart..."
K2 sang this silly song as I was soaking a mix of  8 beans ( Adzuki, Cranberry, Pinto, Canellini, Navy, Lima, Black, Kidney) in the AM today. Yes, there was some vague notion in my mind to make something with the beans...only thing was I had soaked too much of it.

I  loved reading Dr. Fuhrman's  book - Eat to Live. It makes a lot of sense nutritionally -- I will be the first to admit that it wasn't Diet that made me lose the last stubborn 20 pounds but exercise. I love the idea of GBOMBS that Dr. Fuhrman talks about - an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet (these foods are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity). I incorporate the GBOMBS pretty intensively in my everyday cooking.
In case you were wondering  GBOMBS are -
G = Greens (Kale, Spinach)
B = Beans
O= Onions (Garlic)
M = Mushrooms 
B = Berries
S = Seeds
This weekend was a little different - I was binge watching "The Good Wife" snuggled under my comforter with K1 thoughtfully supplying me with chai and take-out for almost 20 hours. I roused myself from one of the seven deadly sins (sloth just in case you were wondering...) and got around to cleaning, laundry and some cooking this PM. Of course, the soaked beans were staring at me (and there was too much of it) I ended up cooking 2 dishes with it.

Adai ( High Protein Beans Crepes)

  • 2 Cups Mixed Beans (soaked overnight)
  • 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats (soaked 1-2 hrs)
  • 1 Carrot Stick (large)
  • 1 Serrano Chilly
  • Handful of Cilantro
  • Pinch of Hing , 1 tsp whole Jeera and salt to taste
Blend the mix on Pulse till it reaches the desired consistency (I usually do this in less than a minute on my Blendtec ).

Bean and Sausage Stew

  • 6 Oz Greens (spinach)
  • Soaked Mixed Beans (2 Cups)
  • 2 Red Onions, 1/2 Head of Garlic
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 6 Oz Button Mushrooms
  • 3 Carrots (large)
  • Organic Chicken Stock
  • Worcestershire sauce
  •  Chicken Sausage (1 pack)
In the pressure cooker - sweat the  onions and garlic, when caramelized -add the Aidells Organic Chicken Sausage, cook for 3 minutes --- add the tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, carrots -- cook for 4 minutes. Now add the soaked beans, the Worcestershire sauce  and 24 Oz of Chicken Stock (more if you want it more soupy vs. stewy). Best eaten hot with toasted Beckmann's California Black bread.

I am back to watching "The Good Wife" and getting mentally ready for the work week. How has your weekend been?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Year Gone! Welcome 2015

 Life is what we make it...we can sit back and ponder a glass half-empty or rejoice that the glass is half-full...the perspective and state of mind is of our choosing. 2013 was a foggy year filled with pain and some of that pain and sadness of losing my father spilled into 2014...yet it is but a perspective and that perspective shifts gradually (the love remains, the pain slowly ebbs).  I have chosen to live most of 2014 with a few simple tenets :
  • Carpe Diem or Seize the Day - I am living each day as if it is the last one I have - Kungfu Panda  (yeah! a cartoon movie I know) was where I heard this saying - Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.Be present to enjoy the moment. I watched sunsets and sunrises (sometimes!), watched the playful seals in the bay, climbed mountains and trails and told my loved ones I loved them... (yes, I even climbed the little hill in the picture and have every intent of climbing the Mission Peak either today or tomorrow!)

  • Eat what you want Diet Plan - I will be the first to admit that I love food (just like my Bapa did)...for the first few months at the beginning of 2014, I tried to restrict what I ate and then reality sunk in - I was unhappy...I shucked that plan to oblivion and decided to live life queen what I want (not regret it later)...I followed it with a lot of didn't really lose weight and didn't really gain weight and felt great eating what I wanted to eat
  • Be Flexible - This applies to mind, body and spirit -- Accept change as a positive thing in life. At times, go with the flow that is before me vs. trying hard to change the outcome to something else. I have accepted myself as I am and have stopped devising ways to improve what already exists. I have rediscovered  balance and peace with Yoga and have been consistent with Zumba. I take long walks with the 2K's in my life. Everyday is not perfect...there are days when all we do is fight, squabble or whine...yet, accepting that  is the way it shall be for today is key to moving on and finding equilibrium.
  • Keep my To-Do List -  I chucked my to-do list for a while and really suffered mentally feeling like there was something missing. My to-do list is an integral part of making me feel positive, balanced and healthy and so I am back to my to-do list with a vengeance. Guess what - we purged for the new year. There are about 10 trash bags of un-necessaries that we have ruthlessly discarded and I feel great about it. I have cooked for the next couple days and everything seems planned and organized
 I am a little sad to see 2014 go and am excited about the upcoming year...let's make it count! Happy New Year !!!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tentative Parenting : It Don't Matter If You're Black Or...

I have been furious this week (and last week) after what happened in Ferguson I would imagine that the authorities would become "more" sensitive to treating human beings with humanity. Then two days back the Eric Garner jury decision not to indict was taken...I became a citizen here not so long ago (3 years to be precise) and even though I felt sad "renouncing my Indian Citizenship" I was proud being a part of a nation which gave me so much in terms of a feeling of Equality, Opportunities and Belonging.What stood out as I was preparing for my citizenship exam in 2011 was that in this country as a citizen everyone has a very basic personal right which is :

(1) Not to be killed.
(2) Not to be injured or abused.

So what happened to Michael and Eric....? What do I tell my 8 year old boy who is definitely not White or Black...just a different shade but born here in this nation and if you asked him what is his country he would say - USA. He eats Indian food sometimes, doesn't speak any Indian languages and loves Football, Pizza and Skylanders - my son has no sense that he is different because of the shade of his skin. 

Truth be told I will be the first one to confess that due to my late assimilation into the American Culture, stereotypes do hold - I did come into this country with personal biases and proclivities. I was always aware of my accent, my skin tone (I have been called a cookie to someone's milk), used to the underlying attitudes ( asked quite a few times when I will go back to my country, am I an Engineer) BUT in the same breath I have got friendship, acceptance and opportunities I am not using this as a soapbox to rant or vent. 

I am however convinced that I can't turn a blind eye to "colorblindness" -- at some point my son will realize that he is different ( the good news is in his public school - there are a lot of kids from different cultures, so they are learning early about the  differences) - I don't want race & ethnicity to be a taboo subject...he needs to understand, respect and accept these differences. Maybe race shouldn't be such a big deal in this country, but we know it is...too big a deal for me to ask an 8 year old to figure out by I will have the talk with K2 soon....what about you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tentative Parenting : To Fail is the first step to success

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.”                                                                                   Ellen DeGeneres

K2 : Ma, so remember the class representative thing - I wasn't selected
Working Mom : So who was selected K2?
K2 : R and M...they are more popular. Maybe I shouldn't participate again
Working Mom : All that matters K2 is that you gave it your BEST shot not whether you won or lost. 

There’s an old Chinese saying, “Failure is the mother of success.” You don’t have to look far in this culture to find celebrated examples of this very notion: Einstein is rumored to have flunked math for years; Steve Jobs was fired from the company he started, only to return a few years later and take Apple to new heights; Walt Disney himself was fired early in his career by a newspaper editor who told him that he “had no imagination and no good ideas.”Resilience is actually built through children coping with occasional bumps, not by only experiencing perfectly smooth rides as they travel through childhood. (Source : Huffington Post. Read more here )
Given my background in Psychology -  I know that the parents of the current generation are running ourselves ragged in a herculean effort to do right by our kids—yet the reality is I hear about grown-up versions of my son (and your child) sitting in a school counselor's office saying they feel empty, confused, anxious and not so good about life in general. Is it true that when we  parents are too attuned - we molly coddle our kids into these needy soft patsies...GOD FORBID!
I recorded my son's practice speech for Class Representative - he was sincere and wonderful, Above all I really value the 3 things he talked about : Creativity, Hard Work and Collaboration. I did tell him this - K2 -  focus on those three things you promised to bring to the table and I promise you they will hold you good stead for a long time to come.
Notes for my son and self : Falling down or disappointment is a regular aspect of everyone's life and I am very clear that I don't want to cushion K2 and shield him...he is learning to roll with the punches and bounce back from failure... Early experiences with failure will help him  make tough decisions as he grows older and ultimately guide him to success.
How is your week playing out?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tentative Parenting : For the Love of a Child

  "Some say  the soul of the child looks down at the world,  
Looks at every soul that resides in every woman.   
The child then chooses his/her mother..."

Diwali makes me sad - it reminds me of all the Diwali's that I am going to celebrate without Bapa. So yesterday - I got myself a big bar of chocolate, a box of tissues and a DVD (Fault in our Stars). I had a wonderful pity party after K2 went to bed -- there was chocolate, and there were tears ... I woke up in the morning all stuffed up. 
Work was busy and I was able to put sadness aside and focus on the work at hand. I picked K2 in the evening (K1 is busy at a conference the next couple days) and showed him some beautiful pictures of Diwali Sweets on Facebook (all this as we were waiting for our Fish Tacos at The Grill House). He gave me a solemn look and said - Ma, I remember Aai making this -- why don't you try making it at home?

Now I have a confession to make - I love to eat, to cook -- not so much. But when my child was asking me for Diwali sweets, it shall be so. I donned my virtual apron and whipped up some goodies in the next two hours. He ate 2 of each of the Laddus  ( I made Besan Laddu, Rava Laddu and Kajju Peda ) - I am sure it's sugar overload but Diwali comes but once a year! 

# 1  I am A-ok  walking down unfamiliar paths  for my child (I made Besan Laddu and Kajju Peda for the first time ever)
#2 I appreciated his honesty - he didn't want me to outsource making the sweets -- he wasn't pushy but he made his point well
#3 I want K2 to experience Diwali like I experienced it - the excitement of new clothes, crackers, sugar overload and just being surrounded by family
#4 I want K2 to remember Bapa - we sat down and looked through our India/Diwali Album and talked about the fun one month in Pune. This was not a melancholic time for us but rather a time to revisit good memories...
Love you Bapa...Happy Diwali - K2 and I remembered you today and I ate a couple Laddus for you!