Friday, January 28, 2011

High School Musical

Breakfast in bed for the birthday boy

The second Freedom Firm Awareness Program. Vijaya again did an amazing job sharing her story.

That's Vijaya in white in the middle of all the girls. We're so thankful the students were so moved by her story. 

It is 2:11 p.m. on Friday, January 28.  I am not sure if I can write a blog in the daylight.  I am thinking the moonlight usually helps the blog flow.  I also think the evening tiredness helps - I am a bit more loose with my tongue and say things that I was curious about in the morning.  So, you can all expect the highest degree of congeniality out of me.  

Currently, my mom and the kids are outside working in the garden.  I know I have told you this before, but my mom is this magic fairy cleaner/organizer/work horse.  In just one week she has scrubbed and painted our patio railing, cleaned and organized my laundry room and refrigerator, organized closets, and done 1,042 loads of laundry.  She is now trying to sort out all of our flowers.  I look at flowers/shrubs and say, “Oh, that looks pretty,” or “Oh, that looks pretty awful.”  And leave it at that.  I kind of get overwhelmed in the conquering of flowers and such.  But my mom is fearless.

Grandma's little helpers

Oh, and what about her back you ask.  Wasn’t she laid up for three days at the beginning of her stay with us?  Yes friends, yes she was. When I last wrote to you all, I was hiding something from you... So, I think I wrote you on a Saturday night.  At that point she was barely able to walk.  Back up a few months, my mom wanted us to plan a beach holiday while she was here.  So, we had planned that the Sunday after she got here, we would hop on a train and head to the beach.  Jayson and I waffled back and forth about whether to cancel or not, but my mom was determined, determined she was.  I was a bit nervous about the whole thing, wondering if we actually got my mom on the train, was she going to be able to get off, picturing my mom endlessly traveling back and forth from Trivandrum to Coimbatore day-in and day-out because she simply couldn’t get off was a despairing thought.  So, I just didn’t tell you all that part, lest you all get nervous with me.  So, I kept it to myself.  And thankfully, she did great.  And by the second day that we were at the beach, she was digging in the sand with the kids and doing back flips into the pool.

Jovie sleeping 2011

Jovie the consistent little girl, this is her sleeping on vacation with Grandma LAST year. 

My favorite bit of our whole five-day-long trip was heading up the mountain to Ooty in the last few hours of the trip.  We were unsuccessfully trying to avoid getting travel sickness, so the driver pulled over.  All the windows were down because for some reason more wind in the car is better for trying not to chuck.  Then all of a sudden a monkey jumped onto the edge of the window.  Ani was inches away from the monkey, with James right next to her, and then Jayson realized what was happening, he looked at the monkey, and just bellowed at it.  I think he was trying to shout him out of the car. I know you are all tired of my monkey stories, but I almost wet myself over the whole ordeal. 

I had Jayson draw a picture of the situation, especially the part about him shouting at the monkey.  Enjoy.

We just passed the two year mark of our time in India.  Can you believe it?  I still feel like such a newbie here.  For me, I am not sure that feeling will ever pass.  I still feel like a newbie at parenting, marriage, life, etc.  I look at the teenagers on High School Musical and feel like they are way more mature than I am.  I still feel new at cultural things, like what all the different clothing or different kinds of foods are called and all the Hindu/Muslim practices.  I still feel new at being intimidated by monkeys and dogs when I go on a run or walk.  I still feel new at the depth and scope of what it means for a country this size to support over 1.1 billion people. I still feel new when I try to get my head around how to help girls have a fuller and healthier life after they get out of the brothels.  And last, but not least, I still feel new and in disbelief that when I search high and low in all the shops in Ooty and I cannot find a single Diet Coke anywhere.

My mom heads back on Monday night.  So sad.  If you see her on February 3, wish her a happy 60th birthday.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Double Feature

(Written January 3) Last year we had a rather quiet Christmas.  This year, I swung the pendulum a bit, having guests over on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in total serving food for nearly 100 people.  I went a bit nutty.  Nutty in inviting, not nutty whilst having guests over.   That would have been a good story though.  On Christmas Eve, I thought it would be fun to have a casual soup and bread lunch.  Inviting everyone I knew really.  Thought maybe 30ish would be around, thinking loads would be traveling or back at home for Christmas.  But as I started counting everyone that could come, the list totaled about 70ish people.  Love it.  I doubled everything and there wasn’t but three pieces of bread left when all was said and done.
Christmas Eve

Christmas Morning

Christmas Day

Currently, Jayson is sitting right beside me reading a book on Project Management.  I can hardly think of anything less that I would like to be doing then reading a book on Project Management. I did read Jane Eyre over the Holidays, for the second time.  Oh, how I love to read about Jane and Mr. Rochester.   
Yesterday, we went swimming down at Jungle Retreat with a family that is here serving Freedom Firm for a few weeks.  Their daughters have become such a fun part of our holidays.  My favorite part of the girls being around is the fact that Sophie, their 10-year-old, has taken James under her wing.  She has the calming effect on him.  James is one for the high emotions and he hardly bellows when she’s around.  And if he does, she does this cute little Yorkshire accent on him and he is bewitched and calmed again.  I am definitely keeping tabs on her until they become of the betrothal age.  

Jovie holding a... kitty? a puppy? Nope. A goat.

The Palms and the Youngs trying to track down any way possible to ride an elephant. Easier said than done. 

Of course, an elephant crossing the road.

This is the point where James asked me, "Is that elephant going potty?"

Ready, steady, jump!

James, keep your eye on this girl...

Last night, after a long day of swimming, elephants, and driving, when all of us felt and looked like rubbish, Sydney was sitting in front of the mirror and proclaimed, “Oh my goodness, I look so beautiful.”  Oh, to be Sydney for a day...

Hey, thanks so much to you who thought of us with your Christmas cards and Christmas emails.  We continue to get two a day.  Never three, not four or one... always two a day.  Do you think that’s weird?  I do.  I kind of like it though.  The pitter patter of Christmas cards is a glorious thing. 

Naseema teaching me how to make Dosas and Pooris


Two birds flew into the Dining Room

That's Tarrah diving out of the way when one of the birds flew into the Kitchen

Headlight burnt out? No problem. Just grab a head lamp and a flashlight!

It’s a double feature, 2 for 1, double stuffed pizza, buy-one-get-one-free, twice-baked potato.  The earlier dated blog was written about a week ago.  But same ole’, same ole’ excuse from this girl, there was a lack of internet at the house to send it, and Jayson and I didn’t have the giddy-up to bring it to the office to send.  So, here we are, rolling it together, Hansel and Gretel, Gidget and Moondoggie, Tom and Jerry, Josh and Donna.  Twice but Nice.

So, my mom is here.  Wednesday afternoon, James, Ani, and I jumped in a car and headed to Bangalore to surprise my mom.  I am not sure at what point along the way I came to the conclusion that it was no biggie to drive eight hours and then turn right back around and drive back home.  But, I guess I did. So, sixteen hours later, we were back in Ooty for breakfast, with my mom in tow.  

We stopped at the new McDonalds on the way to Bangalore

Ani giving the McDonalds "M" gang sign

There's nothin' like a donut at 1:00 a.m. on the floor outside the Bangalore Airport

Within two hours, my mom had given Ani and I haircuts.  I have had a consistent bad hair day for months, I think this is why she was alright to cut my hair before she showered, hugged Jovie or unpacked.  As we finally did get to unpacking, we discovered a ham, a few pounds of yum-a-dum-dum cheese, fudge, carmel, Christmas presents from Grandma and Grandpa and Nana and Papa, and so much more... my mom is brilliant.

My mom has also been in bed for the last few days.  Poor, poor mom.  Her back went out the evening she got here. So, we just brought the party to her.  Opening up Christmas presents, breakfast, lunch, dinner, movies, playing - all the things that we would be doing anyway - just all held in James and Sydney’s room.  Works for us.  We are just thrilled that she is with us.  Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Bringin' the Christmas to Grandma

Also in the news is that I have officially watched my first Bollywood movie.  I cannot believe that I have been here for two years and I haven’t feasted on a Bollywood production.  A few staff and volunteers were all a bit traumatized that I hadn’t, so they brought over one of their fav’s (“Three Idiots”) and we baked some pizza and had a grand night.  Now, the name is a bit ridiculous, in my book.  The wow factor is not real high with that kind of name.  It doesn’t have the “Pride and Prejudice”, “The Last of the Mohicans” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of draw to it.  Anyway, moving past the title, it was actually fairly engaging.  My eyes did get sore reading subtitles, and of course the dancing was quite a kick, but all in all, I would totally recommend the movie. So, let me know when you watch your next Bollywood movie, I do want here all about it.

In Freedom Firm news, near the end of 2010 nineteen girls were rescued in Nagpur, a new area where Freedom Firm hopes to make major headway in the coming 12 months. 2011 is off to a mixed start, with five minor girls rescued just two weeks ago, then police in a different area this week gave excuses why they “can’t” help. It’s a roller coaster as usual.