October 2, 2015

Facebook PSA

Grinter's Sunflower Field, Lawrence KS.

For no reason other than I have missed writing, I have made a commitment to myself to post once a week for the rest of the year.  So, this is me, jumping right in......

I love Facebook. LOVE.  It makes it easy to keep in touch with folks I see in REAL life.  It is also convenient for staying connected with my Imaginary Friends in the Box --  my online friends.  Like many folks, I have a diverse set of FB friends.  I tend to lean Libertarian, but I have friends that swing far Right and far Left.  And never the twain shall meet, right? However, I appreciate having these perspectives (most of the time) even when my blood pressure rises.

I know for other people this is not always the case and I have seen friendships scorched to the ground because of Facebook.  A few times, I have been the one blocking/unfriending.  Other times, I was the one blocked/unfriended.  Eventually, I made peace with the end of those relationships because they were toxic and unhealthy for me in the long run, regardless of Facebook's involvement.  And I moved on.

But something happened a few weeks ago to a friend of mine that made me realize that a lot of folks simply do not understand how Facebook works.  Things could quickly get ugly with tensions already running high on a myriad of topics such as Planned Parenthood, Trump, gun control (or lack thereof), etc.

Here's what happened: a few weeks ago,  Friend A blocked and unfriended Friend B.  Friend A wrote a nasty diatribe claiming that Friend B was posting offensive material.  The problem is, I could clearly see that Friend B had NOT posted anything objectionable and furthermore, Friend B is the least disagreeable person you will ever meet.

In fact, Friend B is the type of person who goes out of her way to NOT be offensive.

I was curious about what the hell could have happened and then I noticed something.  In my timeline, I will often see news article posted that has a friend associated with it.
Something like this:
Joe Black via Huffington Post

That means that Joe actually SHARED the article from the Huffington Post.

I also see other news articles posted that has a friend associated with it containing this verbiage:
Joe Black likes The Kansas City Star

Do you see the difference?  In the first example, Joe clearly shared the specific article with his friends.  However!   In the second example, The Kansas City Star is sharing an article and saying "Hey, Joe likes us!"  but that does NOT mean that Joe liked that specific article.

As we move forward into what will be a contentious election season, we all need to keep in mind that social media has weird algorithms and often, is not as straightforward as one would think.  Also, folks can mistakenly click on things.  Accidents happen!

Listen, I am the first sort of person to jump to conclusions and then angrily tap out responses because Someone On the Internet Is Wrong.

However, this recent experience has made me see that I need to be kinder and give more folks the benefit of the doubt.

Will you join me?

July 9, 2015

10 Things I Love About You

Now that I have children who are online AND can read, they can read my blog.  I love showing them past posts I have written and I am so so grateful that I spent the time and energy maintaining this spot.   The other day, Anjali declared "Well, are you going to write my birthday post this year?  You wrote one when I was 6, but not when I was 7!".

Baby girl, here you go.

10 Things I Love About You

1. I love that you are curious and inquisitive.  
Sometimes, the constant questions wear me down, but I promise I will always try to find the answers. Also, I fully support your relationship with Siri. (And yes, I am still researching how close the Earth can get to the Sun before we all die.)

2. I love that you have become quite the foodie.
It is so much FUN cooking with you and exploring new restaurants with you.   I laughed last night when you pestered me for a full hour as I slow-cooked Jamaican Chicken packing so much heat with adobo chilies that my own tongue was buzzing. And it cracks me up that your favorite BBQ sauce is KC Joe's Night of the Living Dead and your favorite wing sauce is Frank's Buffalo Sauce.  I also love that you like to create things on your own - even when the results are not edible (yes, I complain about the mess, I will try harder not to in the future).

3. I love that you are a good sister.  
Arun is a stinky boy who often pesters you, but you are patient with him and are such a caretaker to him.  He takes you for granted, but he WILL appreciate your picking out his clothes for him when he is high school.  Trust me on this.

4. I love that you are so competitive.
When you became furious that Arun finished The War With Grandpa before you, I felt bad that you were so upset.  However, honestly?  I was also secretly thrilled that you have such a tenacious drive in you.  You always strive to do better and I love that about you.  I was so proud of you when you got behind on reading Lemonade Wars and instead of panicking, you sat down and read straight through until you had caught up on your chapters.

5. I love that you are a good friend and are respectful to people.  
Be it a cashier, a receptionist or server, you are always respectful and even your teachers always comment on this.  Never forget to acknowledge a person who is helping you out -- it will pay off in spades in terms of customer service (and karma!)  You are also so careful with your friends and I hope that continues.  Friendships with girls can be complicated and I appreciate that you are careful with whom you are close.  It took me years to weed out the toxic friends and I learned some hard lessons from my bad choices in friendships.  You will have to learn this on your own as well, but so far?  You are doing well in choosing friends who treat with you respect and are kind to you.  (And who love to dig for bugs and frogs as much as you do. )

6. I love that you are an adventuresome traveler.  
It is so much fun traveling with you and Arun (except for Arun's apparent disdain for Colorado.  Let us never speak of Colorado again.)  Both of you are so adventuresome and curious about other people, cultures and ways of life. And I was SO proud of how patient and well-behaved both of you were last year when we went to Mexico.   I am so excited to go back there this summer and find new spots for us to explore!

7. I love that you talk to me.  
I know this may not always be the case, but I appreciate that for now, you confide in me and that we can talk through things.

8. I love your jokes.
Your jokes crack me up and you have a great delivery (especially the one about the cemetery!) Your great-great-uncles Buddy and Floyd are surely laughing from above every time you tell one!  I hope you never lose your sense of humor because having one, goes a long, long way in life.

 9. I love that you are creative.
I have so much fun seeing your latest Lego or construction paper creation - especially the Lego pieces you create on your own, not just the ones with instructions.  I am not a "builder" myself and it fascinates me to see what you come up with.  I never get tired of seeing what you can cobble together with paper and tape.

 10.  I love the person you are.
As I always say, I always wanted a daughter just like you.

Happy birthday, Peanut Butter Anjali.

July 23, 2014


Tomorrow, Celeste (aka Average Jane) and I are heading to San Jose for BlogHer 14.  We both attended the first one in 05 and have attended many more after that (although, I missed 07, 12, and 13).  BlogHer 05 appealed to me because I was 7 months pregnant with my oldest child at the time and I saw the conference as a fun trip to take with Celeste before I became shackled with the duties of a parenthood.  Little did I know that BlogHer would end up launching some amazing friendships and connections for me over the next 9 years.

Anyway, I'm stealing Celeste's idea of "getting to know to me" since I have not been posting regularly for a long time.

I'm the one standing in the back.  This is dinner with a group of mothers from my kids' school -- so happy to have found a nice, laidback group of ladies.  We have a GREAT school and neighborhood -- I am so proud to be a part of it.

First and foremost, these days, I am a parent with my husband Manoj-- my son Arun is 8.5 and my daughter Anjali is 7 (aka Team Chaos).  They are at the age where they still take a lot of my time.  HOWEVER, they are also at the age where they are so much freaking FUN to hang out with that I am trying to enjoy every moment I can before they become teenagers and realize what an impossibly boring dork I am.  Besides, who else will watch the Powerpuff Girls and play the WiiU with me?

Speaking of my husband, Manoj is a serial entrepreneur -- we are always working on a business idea of his.  I do not really have the personality of an entrepreneur but I am grateful that his tenacity, work ethic and awesome ideas have pulled our life in this direction.  It is exciting to be on the fringes of whatever he is working on and fortunately, my skillset often allows me to help him in a variety of ways.   When Manoj isn't working, he is always hanging out with our kids.

When I am not being a parent or a wife, I am usually sucked into one of my million hobbies -- I am addicted to hobbies and learning new things.  My favorite hobbies are reading, knitting and arachnids. I am pretty serious about my reading and try to get through at least 50 books a year (Yes, I'm on Goodreads -- friend me up, yo!)   In the past year, I have been learning how to sew and have been dabbling in photography.  I also love cooking, but I consider that a lifeskill, not a hobby.

Besides two kids, Manoj and I have are crazy about our pets.   We have 3 cats (Pearson, Harry and Sam), 2 tarantulas (Nya and Little Celeste -- yes, named after my friend Celeste, with her permission, natch), a fish (Alex), a gecko (Gordon), and a dog (Lucy).  We do take our pets very seriously and responsible pet ownership is a pet peeve of mine (pardon the pun!).  I wrote a post about things to consider when making the decision to get a pet, particularly exotics.

I have mostly been a SAHM with a bit of WAHM here and there.  However, a few years ago when Arun started Kindergarten, I began freelance contracting work -- mostly in IT audit, Sarbanes-Oxley and internal audit projects, process documentation and improvement, and some systems development.   I have loads of opinions on the topics of working mothers since I have literally DONE IT ALL.  However, I have found that no matter what I say, someone is offended and mostly, I just keep quiet these days.  Suffice it to say, I am so glad that I was able to stay home with my babies and those early years with them are some of the happiest memories of my life.  I am very grateful that Manoj and I are in a situation where I can do freelancing and have the ability to take on projects with flexibility so that I can be home in time to pick up the Team from school.

To wrap this up, I would like to say that I really miss writing.  I lost my direction and I am hoping to find some inspiration at this year's BlogHer.    I have always been my own Audience of One and I do not see that changing.  While I do hope that my kids will get a kick out it of one day, I have always written this blog for ME.

June 25, 2014


I could go into details as to why I have not written for so long.  Most of the details are boring and simply boil down to “Kelli is too damn lazy.”  It is odd that I did not share much from 2013 because Manoj and I realized some long-held dreams and it was truly an inspiring year for us.   We sold our stock in Manoj’s business, did so many house projects that my head spun, and I ventured out into freelancing full-time.  I even picked up two new hobbies that I had wanted to try for a long, long time – photography and sewing.  Although truthfully, the sewing was put on hold a bit when I started working, but I am going to pick it back up in July.  As a Serial Hobbyist, it was exciting to challenge myself and I am always on the hunt for learning something new (Zentangle, you are officially on notice).

Anyway!   You read that correctly, I have been …..“working”.  While I have always been sarcastic about  about my “working” or “not working” status, it has been interesting to have been 100% billable the past 11 months.  I am winding down my current contract and will be “not working” for awhile.  Mostly, I feel very gratefully humbled that I had two awesome clients who provided me with steady income and challenging projects.  I am also very happy with the contracting life and appreciate that we have the sort of flexibility that allows for it.  Contracting and consulting can be risky and scary at times, but Manoj and I have been very fortunate to have found some great clients. We both have had wiggle room in our schedules so the kids didn’t have to do after-school programs at all, which made things so much simpler (the kids were very vocal about not wanting to do after-care programs. )   Now that they are out of school, it has gotten much more complicated.  When I roll off this project,   I am going to take the rest of the summer off and just enjoy my kiddos.  In the fall, Manoj and I will consider what my next steps should be.  

Ah, Team Chaos!  Yes, they are eagerly anticipating the end of this client so that I can be home with them this summer.  The hodge-podge of childcare solutions has grown tiresome and they are ready for me to be home during the day.  Interestingly, my  change in “working” status means pretty much nothing to them – all they care about it is whether they have to go to daycare or not(both are adamant about NOT going to daycare because they would rather be home in the summer so that they don’t miss out on playing with their friends, trips to the zoo, etc.)  I always chuckle at the statements from working moms who say their kids “respect them more” because they hold an outside job.    Frankly?  My children’s respect isn’t based upon my work status – it is whether I am a good parent and a good role model.

Speaking of Team Chaos – they are still going strong!  Arun is 8.5yo and looking forward to 3rd grade in the fall.  Like many boys his age, he is obsessed with his pets, Minecraft, Clash of Clans, and Legos.   Unlike many boys his age, he still loves to snuggle in our laps and give hugs. 

Anjali will be 7yo in a few weeks and is excited about 2nd grade.  Like many girls her age, she is obsessed with her pets, Legos, her friends, and her art/crafts.

Mostly with these two, I sit around and feel undeservedly lucky.  They are both extremely social with tons of friends and are doing well in school.

Speaking of school, I am so grateful for our small neighborhood school – each grade has 2-3 sections and because I have been able to be involved with the school, I know so many folks associated with the school – teachers, parents, students, etc.  We have a good school and a GREAT neighborhood.  When we bought our house, we were not even thinking of those things – so what a happy surprise this has all been.

Anyway, I am SO excited about the rest of this summer – I have some fun things planned and hopefully, this post will be impetus I needed to get writing again. 

Overall, I will always regret not having written more last year but there is something to be said for a fresh start.

July 19, 2013

Using All The Crayons

I asked Arun to draw a picture of his dream vacation.  Apparently, Disney World can suck it because my kid wants to go to India with his daddy to catch cobras and pit vipers.

I have not said much regarding the Trayvon Martin case yet because frankly, I was too damned busy listening (per Kelly Wickham's request).  I've also been pondering Te-Nehisi Coates' observations.  I have been following Slate's coverage (and felt my heart sink when the uncomfortable prediction was offered that we would see an acquittal of Zimmerman.)  And then, I click on more links. Which lead me to yet MORE links.

And then I listen some more.

You would think that my being married to a person of color grants me some Special Pass, a unique revocation of my White Privilege, but it does not quite work that way.  Oh sure, I gain some perspective when I hear folks compliment his English.  I gain insight when I hear him take calls with patients and the patients question his use of the name "George" as if it was his lame attempt to Anglicize himself.   Things certainly begin to click for me when I hear folks ask his location and express disbelief that he is truly in Kansas and instead, would rather believe he is huddled in a stifling cubicle deep in the heart of Bangalore.

Nope.  There are no Special Passes.

When I first heard of this notion called White Privilege, it rankled me.  Seriously, What. The. Hell.  White Privilege? Meaning the results of all of my hard work was actually based upon the color of my skin?   After all, I did not feel very privileged growing up in crummy, small Kansas towns with a father still deep in the throes of PTSD from his stint in Vietnam (not to mention my parents' incessant fighting and eventual divorce). Oh, and I can definitely report that my pasty, pale skin did not feel privileged working through college and later, still paying off student loans (certainly, there were no Moaning Myrtle scholarships to be had.)  Furthermore, the machine that graded my CPA exam probably did not care that I am white. Indeed.

And yet.

I have never had reason to be scared of a cop.  I freely wear hoodies.  I have never been followed by security in a department store.  I have a HUGE temper, but no one has ever referred to me as an Angry White Woman (complete with predefined character attributions). In fact, I can only remember one time I have felt discriminated based upon color (let's leave misogyny out of this for now-- that is for another time entirely).  Manoj and I were out for dinner in Maine about 11 years ago and the waitress was extremely rude and curt with us. Manoj and I tend to give long leashes for our waitstaff because we respect how hard they work.  So, we simply thought we had gotten a server who was having a bad day.  Until I noticed her 2 tables over laughing, small-talking and offering up some really good customer service.  And then, I watched her come to OUR table and her demeanor did a 180.

However, honestly? The experience wasn't horrifying for me.  Because it was isolated.   It gave me some acumen, to be sure, but I did not leave the restaurant scarred for life.  And besides, the waitress was being crappy to me only because I was with a person of color.  I walked out of that restaurant still WHITE.  My husband was still BROWN.

Oh, and here is the real kicker -- because of my WHITE skin, my kids are now so ethnically ambiguous that I may never have to worry about them wearing hoodies on a rainy night as they dash to the store to buy Skittles.

Now that I have reconsidered this White Privilege gig I have going on, what am I going to do about it?  What can any of us do about it?  Yes, we need to listen, but then we need to talk about it.  And we need to quit pretending that kids do not see color.  Ever since my kids have grasped a crayon in their grubby paws, they have always been conscientious of coloring their family members the correct, corresponding shade (and as I have written before, we are very frank about color with our kids.)

Quit chirping brightly "my kids are colorblind!"  Your kids are not colorblind, they just don't care! Do what you can to keep it that way.  Encourage questions!  The other day, my son's friend was asking who Arun's mama was and who Anjali's daddy simply because he was confused by all the shades we have going on in our family.  And this kid is African-American!  At one point, he thought he shouldn't be asking the questions, but I encouraged him to finish his question.  And then, I gently explained to him what happens with mixed-race kids.

I can't change any laws, but I can keep a careful eye on who I vote for.

I can't change others' racist views but I can discourage the conversation or call out racist views.

I am in charge of two small humans who have the potential to positively influence others.  And when their friends come to visit and are in my home, I have those moments as well to reflect a positive attitude.

In the meantime, I need to get back to listening.