Tiger’s Roar!

With having an older brother, one needs to know how to ROAR back! Nishad and Arun love to play animals and chase one another around. Here is a sample of 14-month old Tiger’s MIGHTY ROAR!


In my early 20’s, while living back in the Chicagoland area, I had a friend that actually made a vacation out of visiting- not Minnesota- but rather “Destination: Mall of America.” She, her brother and his girlfriend drove here and spent a week of paid time off in a hotel adjacent to MOA where they could wake up and immediately hit the mall scene. I still chuckle to this day thinking of them. Each to their own, but it’s definitely not my idea of “vacation.” How ironic that I would live so close to MOA now. My friend and I no longer are in contact- oh, how she would be envious!
After moving to Minnesota, the first question one of my teen students that I taught dance to asked was, “How close are you to MOA?” I’ve always viewed a mall as a mall. I guess it is neat though to have so many things under one roof. Especially, when the temperatures dip and being outside is not an option. This is why this became one of our fun destinations while Nishad was on break from school.
When I do go to MOA, I like to park in the same area which is the lot right outside of Macy’s. This enables you to walk right in. It’s especially nice with kids and a double stroller. This is a popular spot to park, so I find myself stalking people, with a smile of course, as they exit the mall in hopes of their parking spot.
We left the house about 10:45AM and made it there by 11:30AM. MOA isn’t only about stores, it’s about enteratinment. They actually have an indoor amusement park. For 18 tickets, it was roughly $19.00. Nishad wanted to go on some rides first, so we spent an hour on the 36-inches and under rides (he isn’t quite 42-inches yet for the next level of rides offered). Then we headed to made reservations for lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe. I wasn’t expecting the barrage of people in front of the restaurant, waiting to do the same exact thing. The next available reservation was at 1:50PM. Being that it was only 12:30AM, a snack was in order! Late lunch today…which was fine. After all, that is what break is all about. Who needs schedules? We headed directly to the “Healthly Express” and loaded up on fresh squeezed orange juice and a snack. After, we took the elevator a level below and stood in line for the “Underwater Adventures.” After we paid $28.00 for one adult and one child’s ticket (Arun was free and this was in combination with a $4.00 off per adult ticket and $2.00 per child ticket coupon) for our wrist bands (you can come and go as you please for the entire day), we had 15 minutes to spare before our lunch accommodations. Up the elevator we went with wrist bands in hand. Nishad exclaimed, “We’ll be back sharks!” as I feverishly pushed the stroller through the crowd.
The last time I went to the Rain Forest Cafe was actually in Chicago, during a Co. Dance Convention. Myself and a bunch of the kids ventured out of our hotel and walked to the popular little strip that includes the 50’s Mc Donald’s, Hard Rock and Ed Debevic’s just off Ontario. At the time, I ate beef, so I believe I ordered a hamburger. Nothing “that” great, but I did recall what I ordered, so it couldn’t have been too bad. Nishad and Arun shared the children’s marinara while I ordered a simple chicken sandwich. We didn’t plan on Arun’s reaction to the periodic rain and thunder storms though as I had completely forgotten about that aspect of dining here. Needless to say, he was not fond of the thunderous BOOMS! Honestly, neither was I. How are you to properly digest your food with all that rumbling? Our tab was $30.00 with tip.
Off to the “Underwater Adventures” that honestly, I didn’t have very high expectations for. However, I was delightfully surprised! I thought it was a wonderful exhibit and really gave you the opportunity to see things up close in a setting that was not only aesthetically beautiful, but educational. Nishad was chit chatting to everyone and anyone that would listen, even pointing out to them when sharks were above their heads. He was very excited! He even made up stories about the fish we saw, “That fish over there is sad, so the other fish is going over to him so he feels better.” Such a compassionate soul! Arun was pretty excited too! His eyes were wide and filled with wonder. A few times he became so elated that he stood up in his stroller and pointed “fishy!” There is a conveyor belt sidewalk through the aquarium, so you simple stand and roll along. This was a welcomed break from pushing the stroller.
After we headed to the Apple Store to check if they had something for Daddy’s IPOD Touch, but no such luck. It was probably as good thing as well because the line for the register was literally out the door. We looked for another animal ornament for Nishad’s animal themed tree, but we didn’t like any. So, without hesitation, it was back to riding some rides!
We left at 2:30PM, which milk and a treat in hand. It didn’t take long before both of my babies were sound asleep in the back of the car. I really thought traffic would be a nightmare, however, we made decent time back.
MOA may not be my idea of a vacation destination, but as a fun destination to while on school break, it’s A-OK!

Inspired Gifts

We have so much to be thankful for as we are such a blessed society. After Christmas, I find myself looking around at all that we have, all that our boys received and feeling so grateful…and reflective.

I can’t help but take a step back and stare at the reality of many children of the world, who don’t even have a place to lay their heads, or clean water to drink.

Despite the controversy that surrounds many charities, I’m showcasing UNICEF’S “Inspired Gifts.” My they inspire you and remind you how blessed you truly are.

Program Description: Inspired Gifts is an innovative program that gives you the opportunity to purchase actual life-saving items that will be shipped directly from both the UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen and one of UNICEF’s many suppliers to one of over 150 countries where UNICEF serves. While other organizations allow supporters to purchase ‘symbolic’ gifts, Inspired Gifts are real items, such as warm blankets, mosquito nets, therapeutic milk, even School-in-a-Box kits.
Every day 25,000 children die from preventable causes. Inspired Gifts can make an immediate and dramatic difference in bringing that number to zero –No more children dying from unclean water, malnutrition or disease. No young lives lost for lack of shelter, immunizations, or basic medicines. Join us in believing in zero.
Inspired Gifts FAQ

Real Christmas

After Nishad was born, we made a decision not to lie to him. This includes telling a big-fat-jolly lie…Santa. Instead, we celebrate the life of Saint Nicholas as he was a real person who did good deeds. We believe the spirit of Christmas is even more magical by focusing on the real reason for the season, and not getting into societal pressures to “maintain a little fun” for your kids in the name of commercialism- at the expense of their trust.

Would it be such a bad thing to teach your child unconditional love (no looming, “He SEES YOU, so BE GOOD”) and those gifts are bought from your parents because they LOVE you just as you are? We, along with an undertone of many other parents don’t think the truth is a bad thing. 🙂

“The sting of the discovery that they have been lied to usually has some nasty and unexpected results. Christians should be especially concerned as they are susceptible to their children suddenly doubting the existence of God. Why should He be viewed any differently than Santa Claus; just another mythical character portrayed as the truth by their parents.” – David Huntwork

The story of Santa Claus is unknowingly used and abused by many well-intentioned parents who otherwise are upright and honest. I have come across so many articles on the topic, but one in particular that I felt compelled to share. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas…Not the Coke Christmas invented to sell beverages in the winter, but the Real Christmas…

…”Let me list the reasons why I don’t believe children should be told that the Santa Claus of popular mythology actually exists:
1) It’s a lie. Plain and simple. If that’s the only reason I get to state, it stands by itself. Everything else is secondary to this point. All the other reasons why I am “anti-Santa” are outgrowths of this point. You are feeding your children something which you know is completely false. To me, that’s bad.
2) That said, your child has such a high opinion of your truthfulness, that, unless allowed to just “naturally” outgrow the belief in Santa Claus, at some point there will be a serious let-down. Regardless of how long those effects last, there will be a point in time where a child realizes that his parents can’t always be trusted. It’s a bit heartbreaking.
3) It destroys a perfect opportunity to give your children the best kind of example – the unconditional love of a parent. If your child is completely convinced that Santa Claus, based on how good you’ve been, will dole out presents at his own discretion, there’s an alternative motivation for acting right. Instead, consider yourself saying this: “It doesn’t matter what Santa Claus says on his list. I love you for who you are, and I give you gifts I think you’ll like because I love you. I know you have bad days – trust me, so do I. But I don’t love you any less if you’ve ‘been bad.’ That’s why your (dad/mom) and I get you presents.”
4) It turns parents who tell their kids the truth straight off into the bad guys. This is one of the most hurtful things for me – I’ve experienced some of this personally, not as a parent, but as a Sunday School teacher. I’ve been helping with 4-year-olds at my church for a few years now. And it never fails – at Christmas time, one child will mention something about Santa Claus (cue the ominous music). Another child will then say “no. Santa Claus doesn’t exist.” Then comes the inevitable “teacher, Johnny said Santa Claus doesn’t exist,” accompanied sometimes by tears, sometimes by an expectation that the teacher must set Johnny straight. So the teacher has to play peacemaker, and say “Okay, guys, let’s not talk about Santa Claus right now,” and break up the cacophony that’s risen, sending more kids into tears, just from the noise and heated voices. Oh, then the parent comes and picks up the kid who still looks a bit morose because of Johnny’s inconsiderate remarks. Teacher mentions to parent that Johnny denigrated her object of childhood belief. Parent rolls eyes, obviously irritated at the parents who “can’t just let their children have fun,” and tries to do damage control. Does this not bug anyone else? The parents who took their child’s trust as a huge responsibility are villainized. I can’t say that I haven’t thought the same things as the parent earlier. Shame on me. There’s nothing wrong with a parent making it a point to always tell his/her children the truth. Shame on you if you think there is.
5) Belief in Santa Claus does nothing to “enhance” a child’s Christmas experience. As a child, I never believed in Santa Claus, and I have no regrets about that. But I still enjoyed just as much, the light-gazing, thinking about toy shops at the North Pole, even singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” A child can enjoy the experience without having to believe it’s real. In older times, children used to “play make believe.” That’s wonderful! They knew it was make believe, and it was just as fun … in fact, that was what made it fun. You get to “escape” from the real world, and just pretend. But if Santa Claus is just another part of the “real world,” then it’s not as special. I don’t mind if kids want to play Santa Claus … just as I don’t mind if they want to play Cowboys and Indians, or cops and robbers (as long as the robbers are the bad guys). To take away a child’s imagination is a horrible thing. But Santa Claus isn’t in their imagination. Even though they’re wrong, children KNOW Santa Claus is real … because their parents told them so.
6) I know I could have ended above, and had a good, solid argument (at least, I think so), but I have to bring this one up – from a Christian perspective. Talk all you want about “winter solstice” or whatever just being a secular holiday. Don’t care. Why do we call this holiday “Christmas?” Because (regardless of whether it was actually in the spring), it’s the time that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – the savior of the world. And this goes hand-in-hand with my observation about showing the unconditional love of a parent. Use the unconditional love of God (in coming down to us just so He could be killed for crimes He didn’t commit) as the ultimate example. Show your love to your child in that context – God loves you no matter what you do. I’m expressing a tiny part of that love to you in my giving you gifts regardless of how good or bad you’ve been. You don’t need Santa Claus to make your wishes come true. You have a father and/or mother who care enough about you to do everything we can to make your life the best that it can be. On top of that, you have a Father in Heaven who cares enough about you that He sent a part of Himself – to die for the bad things you did.”

Merry Christmas!

Our 5th Annual Christmas Letter:

Direct from Minnesota, sent with the warmest of wishes! Yes, I know, a bit of an oxymoron coming from Minnesota. “Warm”…well, at least in thought and in heart! One needs a little added sunshine to get us through these winters. Consider our card a sprinkling of sunshine and warmth for the cold winter ahead. Unless of course, you are one of the lucky few we know that reside in California or Florida. Then by all means, send some sun our way!
Alas, the 2008 Kumar Christmas Letter. Only one of probably fifty you’ll receive. Since we are all busy these days and, let’s face it, there are cookies that need to be baked, I’ve offered a condensed version this year. The short version is that we are still in Otsego, everyone is happy and fine, we had a great summer and Autumn, nothing tragic occurred since last Christmas, we are not yet millionaires and will be less so after the 25th. For those of you with stamina, a more detailed account follows:
Nishad Isaiah and Arun Nicholas had big milestones this year! Nishad, now 3, started pre-school and Arun celebrated his first trip around the sun as he is now 1! Nishad easily transitioned into pre-school, which speaks volumes of his school/classroom environment and love of learning. After visiting 15 schools, touring, observing and seeking out advice of those I trust in the Montessori world, we selected a school and submitted an application. Then the nail biting began. I knew Nishad would be a shoo-in, it was me I was worried about! Ha!
Nishad attends a holistic, private Montessori school, Monday through Friday, for three hours a day. He adores his teachers, friends (now ‘famous’ household names) and all the work he does. At conferences, his teacher told us that he working at a 5-6 year old level. He started reading a few months back and loves to invent stories and put on puppet shows. His calm, peaceful manner is often interrupted these days with sudden bursts of spirited “boyness” that involve leaps, jumps, flips, and non-stop chatter about dump trucks, fire trucks and cars (followed by a statement of, “I would REALLY like…”). Last Spring he boarded undie junction and has since never looked back. (One out of diapers, one to go!) My favorite Nishad quote as of late is: “We don’t eat our friends.” (In regard to being vegetarian.)
Arun is enjoying all the benefits that come along with being “the baby.” It’s as though he knows he is our last and takes full advantage of it. It’s an amazing experience for us as parents- As 1st time parents with Nishad, we were all about milestones. With Arun, we truly are enjoying observing him explore and marvel at his discoveries. Nishad’s 1st year taught us to be humble, patient and that we had so much to learn. Arun has taught us to trust more in ourselves, our instincts, others, to believe in the process of life, like the moon and stars- and yes, that we still have so much to learn! Nishad made us a family; Arun completed it.
Arun enjoys one-on-one time learning and playing with me while his big brother is at school. During this time, he rules the house, imitates behaviors and is all about sorting, dumping and carrying things to new locations for his parents to later discover, about a day late. His new catch phase is “Tickle-Tickle.” He loves to spin around in a circle and toss up his hands in the air and proclaim a proud “GLEE” upon pausing, only to repeat. Thank goodness diapers are so padded. After a few spins around, a loud PLOP from being dizzy occurs.
We had the pleasure of tagging along with Ashish on a business trip to Chicago this May. Ashish was an invited speaker for the BEA Conference, on behalf of United Health Group. It was a short visit, but the boys and I did manage to be a “tourist” in the city I grew so attached to while living in the Chicagoland area for 28 years.
Ashish also went to an Oracle Convention in San Francisco and was able to re-connect with a few good friends that now live on the west coast. Ashish manages a segment of UHG and continues to be valued and busy. I hosted a party in honor of Ashish’s 10-year anniversary in the U.S.A.! Our close friends and neighbors came over for a festival of taste nations! We served up tandori chicken, samosa’s, palak paneer and Indian treats with a cake of course. Other guests were asked to bring a family favorite or dish that represents their ethnicity. It was wonderful- a special tribute to someone who works so hard, accomplished so much and came here with one suitcase, $500.00 and a job offer. Amazing. I am thankful that I live in a day and age that Ashish and I could grow-up on opposite sides of the world, yet find one another.
We also took our annual trek up to Bemidji for a week, as well as a weekend trip to Duluth. By the time Nishad and Arun are 5, I’m sure we’ll have seen every railroad depot in the state! It’s a must on our list to do in Nishad’s eyes. Bemidji’s depot wasn’t very exciting, but on the other hand, Duluth had so much to offer!
Being that late October spawns two birthday’s and another a week after in November, we decided to celebrate in Florida. We spent 2 days at DisneyWorld and 7 days in Melbourne/Cocoa Beach. We celebrated Halloween at Disney’s “Not-so-Scary” Halloween Party. It was a lot of fun and all of us slept well! It was on this trip that we drove three hours to see my Aunt Beverly (yes, my namesake!) in Tampa. It was very exciting as though she has spoken to Ashish many times, she had never met him or the boys. Of course, Election Baby that I am, in the small chance that Obama didn’t win, I had plans of changing our flight plans. I wasn’t coming back! Ha,ha.
December 18th marks our 5th year wedding anniversary (We were married twice! The 2nd time was on November 26th of 2004). I consider myself lucky to be married twice, to the same man I love. This is also 1st year that I’ve been really able to get my photography and design business up and going. I only allow my business to grow at a pace in which our children set. Photography was always something that I put on the back burner due to my involvement in dance and theatre. I’m proud to have it come front and center. I’m honored and humbled to be able to be a part of so many families’ lives, capturing the uniqueness of what makes them so beautiful and the essence of what being a family is all about. It really is a joy!
I’ve channeled my love for journaling to blogging. www.picgalgarden.blogspot.com It’s more than a family milestone site and daily happenings. For me it’s an outlet of endless topics from gardening, cooking, reviews, events, memories, Mommy moments and the ups and downs that make us all human. For so long I avoided blogging and sites such as facebook because Ashish was wary of the security factor. Which, he still is worried about as he has an inside view of internet security on a daily basis. I, on the other hand, toss caution to the wind and write blindly! That is, until something happens to one of our computers- then it’s all about seeking out Ashish!
On a much more serious note, in such uncertain times, we wish you and your family a bit of peace, security and faith – this too shall pass. It is our prayer to you and your family, that you walk softly upon the earth and only make an imprint when you make a statement in efforts to aid another or a cause, remember to keep the word “kind” in humankind, and reflect God’s beauty with a open mind and open heart.
Now more than ever, it isn’t so important as to who you believe in, but that you believe…
Love, Beverly & The Boys