Monthly Archives: October 2015

Definition of Success

I remember having a conversation with a friend in college about success.  Having to live on a budget was not something I had to deal with back then.  Although he was  younger than I was, he seemed more financially aware  because I had never payed for anything on my own, ever.  So I asked, “how much money do you have to make to be considered ‘successful'”?  His answer, “6 figures”.  Simple.

Ask most people and they will say that my father’s story is the epitome of success.  He came from a family of mediocre means in India and graduated as one of the top students in the country with a degree in Electrical Engineering.  After arriving in America with a new wife and only a few dollars to his name, he worked his way to owning a multi-million dollar conglomerate of companies as a result of hard work and intelligence.  He became heavily involved with Politics and was well known throughout the Indian community.

What you don’t really see is the sacrifices that he and my mom made to get there.  Both of my parents worked ridiculously long hours but my Dad would often leave before we went to school and not come home until 1 or 2 in the morning.  My mom had to go to far away cities for weeks at a time to help one of the companies get on the right foot.  They provided us with an extremely comfortable lifestyle and allowed all 4 of us to graduate from prestigious colleges debt free.  But they never had time to come to one of my choir performances, basketball games, or even a parent teacher conference.  To this day at age 67, for my dad, weekends do not exist.  Unfortunately, the result was we barely saw him growing up.  We barely knew him.

My father meeting with The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi

Now that my and my 3 siblings are all adults, we make decisions in our life based on our  own perception of what we experienced as a child.  One of my brothers often theoretically asks me “If you could make a million dollars and live in Chicago or make 10 million dollars and live in Timbuktu, what would you pick?”  He proudly answers his own question without hesitation.  He would do anything to achieve that type of success and would choose Timbuktu in a heartbeat.  Although I have neither option, I would choose Chicago on that same beat.

Me and my siblings

There is a study that says that magic number in which money no longer affects your happiness is $75,000.  No matter how much more money you earn, it doesn’t buy you anymore happiness.

At 33 years old, I have a stable career after being with my current employer for almost 5 years.  I make a decent living and even better have negotiated my way into working from home full time.  At this point,  it is pretty clear that my bank account will never be as full as my parents.  However, I work the typical “9-5” job which means my family eats dinner together every night.  I get to watch my children grow up.  I help them with their homework, volunteer at school when I can, and am at every single game.  I am around to mold them into the kind of people I want them to be, the kind of people who will contribute to society.  I am surrounded by friends who I love that hope to grow old with.  I am an active member of my community both locally and ethnically.

Obviously there are many different scenarios between me and my parents.  But my question to you is how do you define success?  Am I considered less successful because I make less money or more because of the enrichment that my life brings?




10 Steps to Hosting a Sleepover Birthday Party

My baby girl turned 9 yesterday.  While I try not to spoil her, I also would do anything to make her happy.  For my oldest daughter, Avani, it is actually easy because she is an EXACT copy of me.  From our looks to our personality/interests and everything in between.  Good and bad, she is my mini-me.  So to determine what I could do to make her feel special for her special day, I just thought about what I would have wanted for my 9th birthday and did that.

Follow these steps to throw your daughter a birthday sleepover she will always remember!

1- Pick a Theme – Anytime up until a week before the party.  Do you need one?  No but it makes it easy to decide on the rest of the stuff like invites, décor or cake when you have one.  For her 9th Birthday, we didn’t want anything too babyish but still pretty and pink so went with roses based on one of crafts (see #4).

2- Pick a Date – 6 weeks pre party.  Make sure she doesn’t have a big event the next day as she will probably be half asleep.  Check the school calendar to ensure there are no school events.  (Unfortunately my daughter’s soccer game was moved up last minute so we had to leave at the same time the girls were supposed to be picked up in the morning….oh boy).

 3- Invite her closest friends – 6 weeks pre-party.  Try to get your invitations out well in advance.  That way her BFFs (as there may be multiple of them) are more likely to be available to share that special day with her.  I would recommend 6 weeks in advance.  Don’t invite too many, there is a possibility that everyone can come so you don’t want more than you can handle.  Don’t invite any “trouble makers” as they will be in your house over night, so you don’t want to have to be on constant alert.

4- Plan an activity – Anytime up to 2 weeks before the party (to order supplies online)  If this is not your forte, hire this out.  There are plenty of professionals out there (artists, chefs, nail techs, etc) that you can pay to do all the heavy lifting for you.  If you are a little braver, you can plan the activity and hire your babysitter to run it.  You can save yourself some money this way but have help at the same time.  If you are really brave (aka crazy like me) you can do it on your own.

I selected 2 activities that I thought would be pretty simple for the girls who would be attending (ages 7-11) would be able to do.

Apple Roses – I saw this posted on one of my friend’s Facebook wall and although I really can’t cook, it looked simple enough that even I could do it.

I broke them up into 4 groups to work together.  It was actually pretty easy and even the ones that weren’t perfectly shaped, tasted delicious. (see results below)

No-Sew Tote Bags – I have always put a lot of thought into what guests take home from a party.  I hate giving out junk.  Junk costs the host money that the guest ends up tossing or cluttering up their home unnecessarily.  For the last 2 birthday parties we did for my younger daughter, Aria, she choose to donate the money we would have spent on the junk instead.  Avani is really into crafting so we spend the goody bag money into making a fantastic craft.  Something that is useable, you don’t through away, unique for this event, and cool!  These DIY tote bags are beautiful and just required some cutting and gluing, easy peasy. (results below)

Supplies Needed for Project

Relax…you don’t have to worry about this for a while..

5- Order Cake – 1 week pre party.  Honestly, the kids don’t really care where you bought your cake.  Cake is cake so if you want to make it easy on yourself, just go the local grocery store.  I went with Jewel where you can order as little as 24 hours in advance.  Some bakers require a longer lead time so check with where you plan on ordering before procrastinating to the last minute.  If you live in the Chicago burbs, several of my friends swear by Jarosch Bakery and will go out of their way for it.  I have also used some local moms who bake from their home for some truly unique cakes.

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6 – Order Food – 1 day pre party.  Pizza?  Yes, simple.  If you ever get tired of pizza, there are also lots of other easy other options as well.  I have used Noodles & Company, Portillos,  Potbellys, Qdoba, and Panda Express which are all just a bit more and pretty easy.


7 – Decorate – Day of Party – Using some stuff you already have in the house you can actually make something pretty special.  Concentrate your decorations into one area instead of spreading them out.  Then you have one spectacular area instead of just a piece here and there.  I just to decorate the basement where the girls would be sleeping.   I used some Christmas lights, bed canopy, quilts, hanging lanterns that I already had.  Buy a couple packs of command hooks, which are pretty awesome, to hang things up and you have instant setting.


8 – Don’t Forget Snacks!  – Day of Party – While out buying tableware, plates, candles, bagels, and juice  (notice the grocery list), don’t forget a late night snack for those hungry girls who will no doubt be raiding your kitchen in the wee-hours.

9 – Monitor – Day of Party – Where did I put that baby monitor???  Well you better figure it out because it comes in handy.  Instead of having to sleep near the kids, or trek up and down the stairs 10 times, stick your baby monitor down there.  Let the kids know that it is there and if there is any misbehaving, you will not hesitate to call their parents to have them picked up.  Luckily I have never had to make a call but the threat enough seems to do the trick ’cause who would want to leave this awesome party?

10 – Bedtime – Night of Party– After all the activities have completed.  Have them wind down by watching a movie after changing into their PJs, brushing teeth, and in their sleeping bags.  Arrange their sleeping bags for them in a circle, heads in, so no one feels left out.  At a reasonable time, let them know its lights out and time for bed.  Expect some chatting after you leave.  30 minutes later, enforce by staying there until a few are sleeping, they will be so exhausted it shouldn’t take long.  Quietly leave while the rest of the girls follow suit.  Don’t forget to check your monitor!



Good luck!

Pictures from Apple Roses and Tote Bags:

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Minkey – Product Review

Last soccer season during a few games, we had some bitter cold weather.  While I had blankets and gloves to try to keep my baby boy warm, try as I may I could not keep his hands covered.  He would toss everything off and hate to have the blanket on top of his hands.  His hands would just freeze and there seemed little I could do about it.

Then over the summer I happened to find this cool invention for just this problem.  I hadn’t had a chance until the absolutely crazy weekend we just had to try it out.  A soccer tournament with 2 players meant 8 games in 2 days and top it off less than 50 degree weather and rain.

I had no idea what we were signing up for when we had our girls try out for the travel soccer team.  We luckily didn’t have to drag our little guy to all of the games but he did make it to 2 where the Minkey got it’s first test.

The Minkey is a replacement for a hat, scarves and gloves in 1 article of clothing.  It completely worked and even better I love the story behind it.   Like me, a mom of a 2 year old was not able to keep her little girl warm and so came up with her own solution.  As her daughter wore her invention she called the Minkey, people asked where they could get their own and so she started selling them.  FullSizeRender

It is easy to get on under his jacket.  There is no way for him to pull off any of the 3 areas by himself either.  Not only is functional, his head, hands, and chest stayed covered the entire game, and it is absolutely adorable.  He caught the attention of all passerbys.   For only $25-$30, a complete life saver.

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This seems to be the only one suitable for boys but girls have a few more patterns and choices.  Not that I am getting any kick backs (maybe I should be ) but I do highly recommend you pick one up for your own babe here.  Happy Fall!