The Juggling Act of a Student/Mother/Wife

The constant balance of a student mom

This week has been very busy. Two exams in two Days! Tuesday was my Chemistry exam and Wednesday my Nutrition exam. My classes have covered alot of topics and information in the last couple of months. Both classes are very different from each other and are both rigorous.

It is always a challenge to study for an exam. The challenge is increased when two different subject have exams so close together. This situation is made more difficult with the fact that I am my daughter’s only source of comfort, love, and attention at home when my husband is at work. Last week I did  nothing but study and prepare for these two exams. No TV, no blog writing, no photography, nothing! It has been hard!

My daughter does not fully understand my need to study for these exams. She does not fully understand the attention that is needed to memorize ionic compounds and make sense of all the enzymes at work in the small intestine. She knows that her mommy wants to become a nurse, and loves to ask mommy lots of questions right when she is studying. She loves to insist that I come to her room and see something very important, which turned out to be a picture she had made on her easel. Which was adorable! She loves to ask for random bits of snack, drinks, and help with toys she cant reach. This happens all day long. The first couple of days were fine, then as the test dates got closer and I focused more, and her need for attention increased. She started exhibiting bad behavior. Refusing to eat her food, throwing her toys, refusing to brush her teeth, demanding candy.  In general she had a negative attitude. Oh it got bad! I had to stop myself from getting overly mad. I told myself she did not understand that I needed quiet.

Pushing her dolly in the swing while mommy studies

Finally when I had enough, I packed up a blanket, got a hot dog from costco’s deli ( her favorite) and headed to the park. She played and I sat and studied. I got up to push her on the swing and then encouraged her to push her dolly on the swing. It was a productive afternoon, I got some work done and Nasreen was happy. I wish I could do this more often but so much of my school work is online and that makes it hard.  We came home from the park and she passed out which provided me the perfect study time. Then it was time to make dinner for the husband. It was really hard not to spend time with my family especially when he came home. I could hear them outside my bedroom, where I had locked myself in.

Nasreen doing her “homework” with mommy

This is my second time in college. The first time I was single, 19 and without any responsibilities, but to myself. I had to work to pay for school but I always found time to cram for tests and organize research and study groups. My mind is so divided these days. I cannot be selfish and focus only on myself, because I have a child and husband that rely on my now. I am motivated and I hope that this is enough to get me to my goals.

Well the tests are over!!!

Chemistry was hard and honestly I have no idea how I did on the exam, even the smallest calculation error can mess up a test score. Nutrition is where I shine. I love that class! I love that I can relate to what I am learning, and apply the information to better feed my family and myself. I really feel it is one of the most beneficial classes I have ever taken, and I encourage everyone to take a class like this. It is really changing how I eat, see, and prepare the food that provides our bodies with all of its amazing functions.

I am happy to report I received my Nutrition score for the big test, 106% 53/50 (there were 3 extra credit points). Sadly no word on the chemistry score yet, but I don’t expect it to be as spectacular as this one, Chemistry and I are not friends. I am just so happy this week is over, a true TGIF! Headed to spend a fun day with my daughter, because she deserves it! Happy Friday everyone!

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My Daughter’s Name

I remember the day that I found out I was having a baby girl! I had wanted a daughter since I could remember. I stared at that ultrasound picture and thought “OK now this is getting real” The planning could officially start!

The Sikh tradition is to wait until the day the baby is born and visit the Gurdwara where the Guru Granth Sahib ( Holy Book) is opened at random and the passage first letter becomes the child’s first letter of the name. This works in India because couples are given years to officially name their child. It is common for infants to go without names for months until the parents pick out the perfect one. In the United States you have to have the name legally recorded on the Birth Certificate before you leave the hospital. I was not prepared to name my child in one day! I knew it was going to take time!

I had lists of names that I had thought up since I was eight years old. They were all long, majestic, and historical. All the traditions that my four letter name was not. Names like Katherine, Alexandria, Guinevere, and Magdalena.

I knew that when I married my Indian husband our cultures would be merged, but for some reason I totally neglected to think about the idea of our future child’s name. As we brainstormed names, we realized that the process was alot more complicated than it might first appear.

The traditional Punjabi names my husband suggested sounded so foreign to my ears. I could not even say most of the names correctly. I could not imagine calling my daughter any of these names. I knew my American family definitely could not say these names and we had to think about her future in American schools as well. I did not want her to be the kid that has to repeat her name ten times to have it pronounced correctly.

As we discussed Western name options, we ran into the same problems. My husband had no emotional connection with these foreign names and his family would not be able to pronounce the unfamiliar sound combinations. It was a frustrating process to be honest! We enlisted the help of our families. Both the American and the Punjabi sides of the family started to scour the internet, baby name books, and friends for name ideas.

The requirements for the name were;

1. Had to be properly pronounced by both sides of the family 

2. Had to have a nice meaning

3. Had to be unique, because face it she was going to be one unique little girl!

We must have looked at thousands of names! One day my sister in law sent me a list of names in an email. My husband and I looked at them together. We each had veto power over names, which meant that if one of us did not like it then it would not go through. We scanned the names, and my eye caught the name Nazarene. I said it out loud and I liked it! I loved it actually. My husband like it as well. That night we went online and talked to his family in India. We talked about that name, we all liked it. I was overjoyed we finally sound a name! We decided on a different spelling for a softer version that sounded more Punjabi.

My daughter’s name is Nasreen Kaur

A Nasreen Flower

Nasreen is a Persian name meaning “Wild Rose”  

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My Grandmother Rose

My Grandmother’s was named Rose. I loved her dearly. She was 4 “11 but had the personality of a women much taller. She grew up on a farm. She used to tell me this story of she stole her dads truck when she was just 8 years old! Her and her brother had to take turns steering and pushing on the break or gas because neither could do both at the same time! When I was a kid my grandmother was so fierce but so loving! I admired her strength and tenacity! This name and its meaning was like a tribute to that women I loved so much!

There have been some people that have been shocked that our daughter’s name is neither Punjabi or American, but Persian There was a time right after I had Nasreen that my husband actually wanted to change her name to something that was more traditionally Punjabi.  Some people had made hurtful comments about her “Muslim” name not being apart of the Sikh traditions. He was having second thoughts about our choice. We talked in great length and concluded that this was our daughter and we loved the name and did not care that others had comments.

Nasreen reading ” My First Kaur Book”

Nasreen’s middle name is Kaur. Which is the middle name given to all Sikh girls. It means “Princess” or “Always Pure”.  In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs gave the last name ‘Kaur’ to women and ‘Singh’ to the men ( meaning lion). This was intended to end the caste system and social stratification that was common in the Hindu traditions. Sikhs above all else believe in complete equality under God.  In Indian society, an individual’s name reveals his or her caste. Kaur and Singh were meant to unite all the people equally.  Kaur was also given to Sikh Women to establish an identity independent of their father or husband. 1503267_10202136197640572_800295199_n

There are some people who mispronounce Nasreen’s name, but most people get it right after we correct them once. It sounds just like it is spelled. 

Nasreen is four now and I believe she fully embodies her name. She is beautiful, strong, unique, passionate, resilient, and so loving. She stands out from both Punjabi kids and American kids because she is her own special kind of mix.

My Fast and Easy Trick to Making Round Rotis in a Hurry

A Roti/ chapati/phulka is a pan cooked flat bread made of whole wheat stone ground flour, called Atta. It is the staple of many Indian’s diets, especially those in Northern India. Roti is eaten with curry, daal,and other foods. In many cases the Roti is used to scoop up food instead of a spoon.

My husband is Punjabi and Punjabis are known for eating alot of Roti. As a family we eat Roti about five times a week. I make a big batch of prepared dough (Atta) a couple times a week. The Atta is stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Traditional Rotis are rolled on a round board like this

Since starting school this month I have been trying to find ways to save time. I always make dinner before I leave for class because I want my husband and daughter to have a good nutritious meal. I make the curry or daal ahead of time and it is ready in the pot.  I also roll and cook the rotis which are then covered and ready for my husband to eat when he comes home.

Punching the roti out

Traditional Rotis are rolled out individually. It takes some time to get the perfect round shape, even thickness, and uniform size. I get so frustrated rolling Rotis. Its time consuming, my hands are covered in sticky atta and I never get the perfect shape. I have literally cried about my inability to make a perfect Roti!

One day I experimented with an idea. Instead of rolling out each Roti I decided to try “punching” them out. I rolled out a large section of prepared Atta on the cutting board. I then used a bowl and cut out perfect uniform circles in the dough.

Perfect round shape, no frustration

It made 4 rotis. I then rolled the leftover dough again and punched out 4 more. It only took a third of the time it usually took me to make roti. I cooked them in the pan and they turned out wonderful. Perfect uniform circles. The sealed edges made them puff up so nice.

I did not tell my husband my new trick at first, but when I gave him the Rotis he was wowed at how round and puffy they were on his plate. I told him my trick and he was pleasantly surprised that I had adapted an age old tradition and put a little personal touch that worked for me.

Yummy round Rotis! I love my new punching method

Many people have told me that I should just switch to the frozen rotis that are commonly sold in stores. This is something that I will never do. I love that I can give my husband and daughter fresh Rotis. Yes they are made differently than his mom and family makes them but they are still fresh and hand made with love. I feel that there are just some corners you should not cut.

Nasreen’s Shot at Modeling

The other day I was online and I saw a contest for a modeling opportunity with a very popular Princess Entertainment Company, called Amazing Fairytale Parties.  This is the same company that we hired the Elsa for Nasreen’s Birthday back in December.

The contest required I submit a photo of my child. Most people chose a Princess themed photo of their child, but I wanted her to stand out. I chose a serious faced photo. There were hundreds that entered so I didn’t think to much about the chance of winning. There were some really Beautiful Kids. The next day I was on my Facebook and I saw Nasreen’s photo on their page. She had been chosen to model and represent their company in a photo shoot! I told Nasreen and she was so excited. I know the shoot is really going to be alot of fun!!

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The photo we submitted to the contest!

We are going to be scheduled in the next couple of weeks and I cant wait to see how they will dress her up! If she enjoys it, then I may pursue other opportunities for her.

My Name

There comes a point in most kid’s lives when they ask their parents about the origin of their name. A name is a very serious issue in a kid’s life. The name cant be too strange sounding, but it also can not be too common. Kids are known to make fun of other’s for their names, making up cruel rhymes. On the other hand no kid wants to be a multiple in a class with the same name. I once had a class with 3 Jessica’s, to differentiate between them we had to use their last names initial.

I remember the day when I asked my mom the meaning behind my name. It went something like this….

“Mom why did you name me Tina?”

” I don’t know, your dad and I just really liked it”

(I was disappointed with this answer so I pushed further).

” Why did you like it? Was I named after anyone?  Does it have a meaning?”

(My mom thought for a bit and then smiled)

” You were named after Tina Turner”

Tina Turner

(Yes Tina Turner the singer! Famous in the 80’s for her hit song “Rolling down the River”)

Four letters! No ancient history! No biblical reference! Not a family name! Tina is a name derived from another name, Christina. Tina is usually a nick name or a shortened version of a longer name.

At the time I was so disappointed in the explanation behind my name. A singer! I know I was the fifth child out of eight kids but I still wanted a name with meaning. I was a kid and the thought of being named after some singer was a bit disappointing. Especially because Tina Turner was my parent’s music.

From a young age I was quite dramatic. I used to spend hours pretending to be a princess or queen in Renaissance England. Princess Tina, just did not sound right!  I wanted a long historical name, like Elizabeth, Alexandria, or Guinevere.

I am embarrassed to even say this now, but I used to lie as a kid. I told everyone my name was actually Christina! That Tina was just my nick name. I don’t know why this issue was so important to me?!  I think I just wanted to feel special. To have some larger meaning.

I don’t know exactly when I started to appreciate my name, I think sometime in my teens. I realized the benefit of having a short name that everyone can spell and pronounce. I was always the only Tina in a class. I have met a few other people of the same name but most of those people only have Tina as a nickname. Even Tina Turner, the Tina I was named after, was not named Tina at Birth. Tina is her stage name, her real name is Anna Mae Bullock. People actually chose to have my name. It must be pretty special.

As I went to college and started to travel, and then married my Indian husband I soon realized that I may have been destined for this name!

I loved being a Tia in Peru

Tina is universal. I have never met a person that could not pronounce it. That is not the case for many names.  When I traveled to Peru during college and worked at an orphanage my name was easily said by everyone. The kids there called me Tia (aunt ) Tina. It was also funny because in Peru the word for basin is la tina. So the kids all thought it was funny when I would be washing their clothes in the basin! Tia Tina washing clothes in la tina. They all got a good laugh out of that one.

In India, Tina is a common nick name. When I married my husband and then traveled to India I never had an issue with people not being able to say my name. Indians would actually say, “oh your name is Indian” and then they would smile. Having a name that is used in so many different countries makes me so happy. I can relate to all cultures, even if it is just a name..

I believe that everyone has a path in life and are blessed with skills and attributes that help them on their journey in life. I honestly believe that my purpose in life is to be a ambassador among people. To meet new people and break down cultural barriers. To travel and better understand the people and the world.

My name allows me to stand out in a crowd as well.  I don’t like to blend in! In a class I always want the professor to know my name. I have made up little ways for people to remember my name. I would introduce myself, “Hi my name is Tina, T is for talkative, so just remember talkative Tina”. They always laugh and no one ever forgets my name.

As a kid I was silly! I did not see the beauty in the name my parents gave me. My name may be short, but it has given me a voice around the world. It has united me as well as set me apart. I have realized that my name does not need to have a historical meaning. I give my name that meaning! .