Archive | May 2013

Today, On Memorial Day 2013!

May 27th 2013, 11:14 PM

Hello Readers, Hope you guys had a great memorial day weekend!
We honor and thank the brave men and women who serve us selflessly.

This memorial day will be etched in my memory forever. My car, after serving my family selflessly for 15 years, died today!

So what do I do now? OK, Are you guys ready for this…. I will NOT buy a new (or a used) car! Yes, I have been wanting to try this for a long time. And now, when the Good Lord has presented the opportunity to me, on a platter, no one can stop me from grabbing it with both hands, not even DW. The favorable thing for me here is that our home has a very good walk-score. Kids can walk to school, we can walk to shopping, doctors office, post-office etc! This will save me a huge amount of money (for example: buying car, sales tax on new car, interest on car loan, dmv transfer fee, annual smog test fee, annual registration fee, car insurance, periodic maintenance charges and above all GAS!) I estimate a monthly saving of close to $500-600 per month here.

I will need to buy a bike (and related accessories) though, for commuting to work. This will guarantee at least 6 miles of biking for me each weekday. Another thing that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time is shedding the extra pounds that I’ve accumulated over the past 15 years of being pampered by my car.

So I am putting my money on the fact that this, “messy situation” as my wife termed it this morning, will definitely be a blessing in disguise for us and over the next 6 months, We will be doing 2 things:-

1.) Saving at least $500 per month.
2.) I intend to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months. Besides biking I will also take care of what I put into my mouth and do some exercise / weight training at least 2-3 times a week.

I will try to post regular updates on this blog about my progress.

I already got started, by ordering a Pacific Men’s Stratus Mountain Bike for myself from Amazon.com. I got a great memorial day deal. It cost me $99.99 and I got Free Shipping. I guess, it should be delivered in a couple of days. I will write back as soon as I take my first ride on it.

Good Night and bye for now.

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Are Your Kids Hogging too much of your time, and leaving you strained and drained? You are not alone.

Our kids have this need to be constantly stimulated and kept busy. We made the mistake of letting  DSI, Xbox, Ipad and the good old Television do that job for us until we noticed impatience and irritability creeping into their personalities and apparently their vision was also getting affected by the non-stop exposure to these gadgets. We had to do something to tackle this situation.

My better half and I hatched a plan that seemed like an Easy Button to deal with this situation. So on a Saturday Afternoon, we started clicking pictures of all these items. The kids had a baffled look on their faces. We told them that we were going to list their DSI, XBOX, IPAD, TV and other handheld video games for sale on eBay and before they could react to that, we added, that this was just so that we could upgrade to the newer and better versions of all of them. They willingly helped us in taking close-ups from various angles and the older one even offered to write up descriptions for the eBay listings. Within a week our household was cleansed of these modern day banes of technology.

When the kids started clamoring for the promised newer/upgraded/updated versions, we sometimes told them that we were still looking for deals and at other times suggested they wait for a while as there were rumors in the market of another updated version of the gadget in question, being launched soon.

This has seemed to work for us. Of coarse, it has meant for us to devote extra time to ‘entertain’ the boys.. but I was kind of prepared for this.

I’ve started taking them out for a game of tennis, or a round of cycling or jogging on a regular basis. However, I am now faced with a new issue… After these activities, I want to rewind and may be read a book or spend some time with my better half over a cup of tea, but my tireless bundles of energies would still need to be ‘entertained’! With their gadgets gone, I was their new ‘time-pass’. “Play something, Do something, We’re getting bored.” became their new catch-phrase.

This is like dealing with a two headed dragon. We chopped one head of the dragon by getting rid of their electronic gadgets and out cropped another head. Now, I do love my kids a lot, but I still need my me-time and my spouse-time too. But with their toys gone, they want all the time to be family-time. I still cannot figure out if there’s an Easy Button to bail me out of this one.

I even penned a short story that illustrates a similar situation in a humorous way. It is titled Not My Cup Of Tea! and it is available on Amazon.com in Kindle format (Its Free for Amazon Prime Members and makes an interesting read).

I invite my readers for suggestions on how to get back my me-time and spouse-time from my kids. In a recent discussion with my spouse, I did bring up the question of whether it would be OK to buy the kids (only 1 of) their favorite “gadgets”, but it was nipped in the bud with a stern look. So I’m still racing the horses of my brains to get out of this little predicament. I will keep you posted.

Managing Kids : Bedtime Woes!

My kids throw most tantrums when it is time to retire for the day. They never want to go to bed. The younger one once innocently questioned God’s purpose for creating night, “I wish it was day the “whole day”.. Then we will never have to sleep and can play and have fun all the time.” I have no idea where they get their tireless energies from. I, on the contrary, love my sleep-time and am a very sound sleeper (and the sound can sometimes even be heard in the next room 🙂 ).

Anyways, so a major drama transpires at our home daily at 9:00 PM, as soon as I make that  announcement, “Alright kids, Time to go to bed!”. The excuses, the arguments and the yelling that ensue are the perfect recipe to raise any parent’s blood pressure.  It takes me almost an hour to get them tucked in!

A friend once suggested that instead of making that announcement at 9:00 PM abruptly, I should start giving them periodic reminders half an hour before that time. That ways they will have mentally conditioned their mind and would be in bed by 9:00 PM. That really sounded like an Easy Button to me for handling this issue.  But the first day I tried it, our 9:00 PM Drama got advanced to 8:30 PM !

There goes my Easy Button for handling kids, I thought.  Why cant my life be like one of those stories of happy families they show on TV.  That reminded me of the stories I used to write as a kid. My grandfather was very appreciative of them. He saw some talent in me and wanted me to hone my skills. But I never wanted to be an author, as it appeared a very ‘boring’ profession to me, so I took up science and ended up in an even more boring profession. Anyways, that thought gave me an idea for the next day.

The next night, at 9:00 PM, as I said “Alright kids, Its time to..” I was interrupted by the older one “No Way, Its Friday today. Tomorrow is off. Nobody goes to bed at 9:00 on weekends.”

“Who said it was bedtime?” I smiled, “I was saying, Its time to listen to a great, funny, full-of-adventure, STORY!”

“Yes, I have a great story to tell you, but I need you guys to change into your pajamas, brush your teeth, and lie down on your beds, with your eyes closed, so you can enjoy the story.”

The younger one was ready to comply but the older one was a little skeptical. “Is that some sort of a trick?”

“No, No tricks.. Its just that if you close your eyes, as I tell you the story, you’ll feel like you’re seeing everything on a big screen with 3-D effect.” I promised.

The younger one was sold. He was in bed in no time. The older one reluctantly trudged behind “If this is a trick then I wont sleep till midnight and play X-box the whole day tomorrow!”

I didn’t know what to expect, but I pleasantly surprised myself that night. As I sat on the carpet between their beds and started telling them a story, which I was weaving on the fly, there was a certain serenity in the room. By the time, I wound-up the story they were lulled into a soothing slumber. It took only 10-15 minutes of my time and saved me the hour-long drama.

From that day, I’ve never had a problem with getting them to bed. Some nights, they themselves announce, ” Alright Papa, Its time to tell a story!”

Easy Button : For managing my life… Really?

Have you ever wondered why your life is so complex. Everyday it tends to get inundated with a dozen new worries and at the end of the day, you go to bed with a heavier load of tensions than the previous night. How many times have you asked yourself “What should I do now?” or even “What would Jesus or Gandhi have done?” How would they have juggled their time and energy in balancing their jobs, kids, household chores, medical appointments and numerous other unexpected variables that keep popping each day out of nowhere.

I am sure most great and famous people might’ve fumbled on many of these fronts. Mahatma Gandhi, who led his country to independence and prosperity and  is fondly remembered even today as the Father of the Nation, in India, was considered a failure as a parent by his son. The Bollywood movie “Gandhi, My Father.” takes a closer look at Gandhi’s life from that angle and is an interesting watch. There’s a huge of list of great personalities who had failed marriages or great corporate managers and leaders who were in-adept in smoothly running their households.

We should take heart from the fact that we cannot be perfect in everything and instead of counting the number things we’re failing at, we should focus on our achievements. I am sure, if you can list a hundred examples of the former, you should be able to come up with at least one example of the latter. It could be anything like baking a delicious cake for child’s birthday or even managing to clean the bathroom on the weekend.

These small achievements, when highlighted, tend to induce positivity in the mind and kindle the desire to take on the next challenge life throws at you.

I wish I could’ve said “been there, done that” to life’s vagaries and their effect on the human mind, but I’d say “I’m still there and still trying to do something” to trump them. I am raising two boys on a modest income and this blog will be my humble attempt to provide some information to my readers, from my day to day experiences, that might alleviate the stress of the daily grind and provide a little motivation.