Monday, February 21, 2011

Mr. Twiddle

Helping to get ready for her brother's birthday
My throat hurts.  From bed time stories.  I quite like reading out loud to my kids.  I really get into it.  Tonight it was a story about this gentleman named Mr. Twiddle (of course his name is Mr. Twiddle, brilliant name...) and he’s fantastic really.  I was howling during the story, howling I say.  I won’t repeat the premise of the story, that wouldn’t go well, you wouldn’t think it was funny, blah, blah, blah... just remember the name Mr. Twiddle and the name alone should make your throat hurt.

Since our last blog we have a newly crowned eight year old daughter and six year old son.  Ani’s birthday was on the 12th and James’ on the 14th.  We had a fantastic weekend celebrating and trying to squish a little Valentine’s Day in there.  We do V-day on the 13th... well, I say that like we’ve been doing that for years.  We did V-day on the 13th this year, and I kind of liked it.  It may be our new thing.  If you want to try it, go ahead.  We won’t mind. 

Ani's Birthday

James' Birthday

Breakfast in bed

Another happening this week was that Jayson resigned from Freedom Firm.  Say what?  Some of you may already know this and have started processing this with us, but for those of you that haven’t, we will tread the waters with you.  I do want to keep the “why” quite short and talk more about “how” this week has been.  The why is that we just know that it is time for us to come home.  This decision has not been taken lightly.  So not lightly.  This decision has been very deep in our bones.  It’s been surprising as well.  We thought at the onset that we would be here for 3-5 years.  And yet at 2 1/2 years we will be going back.  The anticipation of this week was a bit shaky.  Shaky like “big, deep breathes, this feels really big” shaky, not, “oh geez louise, we are making a really bad decision” shaky.  It brought back memories of us deciding to move here... 

Jayson started the week telling the staff.  That was hard.  They, and we, will miss working with each other.  The staff are so incredibly strong and courageous.  We then told our kids on the 15th.  They all had mixed emotions.  Surprised really.  Ani has been walking around the house saying, “I can’t believe we are really moving back the States.”  Ani understands the reality of this transition more than the other kids.  We then started emailing people back in the States, and then a flood of emails came back to us, and we literally were saturated with kind and warm words.  You see, we feel sent from you all to be working here.  A delegate of sorts.  So, when we decided that our time was done here, we feel the weight of the decision in all sorts of ways. I see the weight in mostly positive ways.  Keeps us accountable for our actions.  Our decisions. Whew, I feel the need for a good joke after all this serious talk.  Mr. Twiddle anyone???

So, we are here until May.  We are here. Fully here.  Engaging here.  Working hard here.  Loving and enjoying life here.  And we continue to love the journey that we are on here...

P.S.  Thanks to all that posted comments and sent us emails from my blog entry about the kids.  You are all so encouraging and I did feel like I put our whole family out there and you really did well with it.  Thank you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sydney at Christmas

I don't think it is an overstatement to say that Sydney is simply hilarious. Her reactions to the Christmas presents she received this year were consistently over the top. So we put together a short video of "The Best of Sydney Christmas Present Reactions" for your enjoyment. 

Through the Eyes of My Children

Workers digging a well at the Roja aftercare home in Ooty. We're expanding the home to house 12 girls. It currently can handle four girls. 
35 rings needed so far (totaling 45 feet down!). Still no water. 
An overhead shot. This is the space where a dormitory-style room will be built. 

I am eating a dark mint chocolate that has just come out of the freezer.  I am in love.  I have this memory of either visiting someone, babysitting, going to a party, etcetera, I can’t really remember.  But I was at someone’s house and they had Andes Mints in the freezer and I think every so often during the night I would go in a grab a few and by the end of the evening I had eaten the whole package. (Not the wrapper, but the chocolate, lest you be confused.)  Mmmmm, that was a really nice night.  I am sure you are feeling very satisfied with that story.  More intelligent.  Curiosity quenched.  Heart filled.  Done.  Go home.  Pack it up.  With that story, you are finished for the day.
I was thinking that it may be interesting to write about India and our life here through the eyes of my children  I have been thinking about it for a few days, wanting to put more thought into it than just my stream of consciousness.  I also need to say that because of the ages of my kids, their comments, ideas, assumptions deal very little in the abstract.  What they see, hear, smell is well, what they see, hear, smell.  With that comes very blunt and sometimes coarse feelings.  I risk being a bit offensive by letting you in on their perceptions, but their story is as much a part of our story as Jayson’s or mine.  We have given them the space to have really hard feelings, and not trying to quickly tell them more of the why behind a certain situation.  But there have been times that I’ve felt scared or embarrassed about some of their words about India.  I find myself wanting to  rush and try to convince them that their feelings are wrong.  But that’s not usually very fair of me.  So, I hope you find it interesting to hear their musings.

Jovie.  Age: 2 1/2.   India is what she knows.  She delights in all the random and numerous animals on the street.  She does not shout at people when they pinch her cheek.  She would prefer rice and dal over pasta.  She drinks chai tea like it’s water.  She eats with her fingers like the locals and can handle more spice than anyone else in the house.  Adults included.  She interacts with local people with ease and the guys at Modern Stores carry her around while I shop.  She is so comfortable that she often wanders off, which was a bit nerve wracking for my mom when she was here.  Because Jovie is so young, I wonder what she will remember about India and what from here she will carry with her.  

Sydney.  Age: 4 1/2.  When we moved here, Sydney was 2 1/2, so really, India is what she knows as well.  But because she is a bit older, she is more influenced by Ani and James and their memories of the States.  All that being said, Sydney being Sydney has a confidence about her here.  She will go up to anybody and ask them anything.  When we were on holiday, we went back to the hotel after dinner and she pranced into the lobby and said with her hand on her hip to the three employees there, “Hi boys, I am back.”  That’s her.  She handles the food fine and doesn’t think much of all the different sights and smells to be seen and smelled.  It is what it is.  She does miss her grandparents and Nana and Papa dearly.  So there is a miss in her for our family, which at times does affect her outlook here.  She is aware that there are huge gaps of time between seeing them.  She has picked up more of the British lingo than any of the other kids.  Uses words like “straightaway”, “proper”, “trousers”, and “knickers”.  India is a colorful country that has poured its color into her.

James. Age: turns 6 in 4 days.  James came here shortly before his fourth birthday.  He is more grayscale compared to Sydney’s vibrant color.  That being said, he has transitioned here a bit more stealth than the other kids.  He moved here with a bit of concrete information about the States, but not enough to be solidified in things.  Like knowing a bit about different sports, currency, clothes, etc.  So, when he came here, he was inundated with new information.  Of course he was, we all were.  But because his foundation of what is “normal” in the States was not yet solid, he gets the components of life here mixed up with the States.  Maybe more in the first year than now, but it still shows.  Like soccer and football.  To him they’re essentially the same thing, yet he knows somehow their different.  Considering he’s never been in the States for a football season, he doesn’t know how it’s different.  The same with cricket and baseball.  There is a basket by the front door holding both a cricket and a baseball bat.  To him, as he reaches for either bat, it doesn’t matter which he grabs, so long as he gets to hit something. 

Ani. Age: turns 8 in 2 days.  I have saved Ani’s for last because she is the one that has been both the most delightful and the most painful to watch take in all that is different here.  My Ani girl is full of questions. She has had a hard time not asking sweeping questions like, “Why are Indians so rude?” (because she loathes it when they touch her, tweek her cheeks, and take photos of her) or “Just because I have white skin, why does everyone think I am so special?”.  She has asked Jayson and I, “Why in the States do we have a lot less than some people, and here why do we have more than most everyone else?”   Or “Mommy, why do Muslim women want to cover themselves?” or “How come Hindu people worship something that looks so weird?”  These types of questions come all the time.  Some days, I don’t know how to answer them.  Some days I do okay.  Explaining poverty, skin color, and different religions to a child is hard.  Living in the tension of poverty, skin color, and different religions can be a bit overwhelming.  She is the most patriotic child I have ever met.  She has a warped perception that all things good are in the States.  I get really wound up when she goes there.  But she does not like that she is so far away from her family and dear friends.  She does not like the fact that she gets the runs quite frequently.  She does not like the fact that she feels different here, that she stands out.  So, I give her space to hold the States up a bit higher than she should.  Even though she struggles here, she is the one I most foresee living in a cross-cultural setting when she is older. She’s really compassionate.  And she feels sad that there are a lot of people that “go without” here.  She feels like it’s really important that we are here doing the work that we are doing.  

Whew, I made it.  This blog is really long.  I don’t know how to make it shorter though. The length being what it is, I am sure I have left some major gaps, but it’s a good start.  And with that, I say goodnight dear friends.