Category Archives: bear

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese………

Photo compliments of Campbells Soup

I just found out that someone that I care a great deal about is very sick.

“It’s amazing just how quickly your whole life can change,” is a phrase that I have repeated far too often this month. And it is amazing. How quickly these delicate lives of ours can change. In an instant.

What does that have to do with Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, you ask? Welllll, just about absolutely everything.

About a month ago, my son asked me what tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches taste like together. Yes, I have admittedly failed him as a parent.

“They are all sorts of fabuloso,” I exclaimed. The poor kid got to hear all about how I grew up on tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and Sprite. How saltine crackers are the best accompaniment and how Cheetos aren’t bad either. How oyster crackers stink because the poor babies are just too thick. How, when I was sick, not even penicillin could cure me as quickly as a can of Campbells and some Kraft singles melted perfectly between two buttered slices of Wonder bread.

It took my husband decades to learn the exact composition of milk and warmth that would soothe my woes and speed my recovery. I was like Goldilocks – this is too hot – this is too cold. Then, finally he heard the magic words, “oh, my dear, this is just right. I feel better already”.

The day my son asked me about the mythical combination was a warm winter day. Hardly worthy of tomato soup introduction. So I said, “sometime I will make it for you”.

Now the daffodils are blooming and winter promises to soon be barely a memory. I missed a chance to share some cheesey tomatoey goodness with my son on a blistery day. To create memories for him and relive memories for me.

And I am reminded that he will leave for college before I know it and that, while some may be better than others, there probably isn’t a bad day to make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

So, today I hope I remember to slow down enough to smell the tomato soup and that life doesn’t change too quickly for me to enjoy it.

(By the way, the picture is from AllRecipes/Campbell’s recipe site. Yum, right?)

On Track…………….

Many of the differences of living in India hit you hard and fast. But some of them emerge slowly over time and creep into your everyday life.

One such change was the availability of sports teams for my kids. Now I promise this is not a post about how my kids are rock stars and how they were cheated by not having adequate sports opportunities in India. It is not an “if only” post. India us taught a lot of things including how to adjust. And in many, many ways stepping back was a tremendous gift.

Before we left the U.S., my kids played soccer year round and swam year round. In between they played basketball. They were busy every day, every night, and every weekend. That came to a screeching halt with the plane when we landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Sports seasons are only eight weeks long at best and we missed the swimming season totally and got on the wait list for soccer. But, you guessed it, we never got called to teams.

The first real season my son could participate in was track. Eager to get moving again, Bear signed right up. He had done a tiny bit of track in the U.S. – maybe three or four practices and one mini meet – but he was by no means accomplished.

One of the things that makes me the most proud of my kids is not when they succeed but how they handle new challenges. They are not intimidated by trying new things and they are not intimidated by not being the best at something. It is really awesome to watch.  If you are someone who is mainly concerned with your child winning, step back and watch how they lose or what they won’t try because they are afraid of losing. It really is a more important skill. To be graceful in defeat. I would argue it will get you much further in life than always winning.

But I digress.

Bear went to practices and got better and worked really, really hard. It was not easy and he didn’t particularly enjoy all of it. But he never gave up. He showed up everyday in the 100 plus degree heat and he ran and jumped and threw the discus. He was way out of his comfort zones.

The team was narrowed down to seven athletes. And would once more be narrowed to the final five official members of the team with an alternate. Bear was one of the seven.

He continued to go to practices and gave it all he had. When the final five were chosen, Bear was number six. And he was justifiably disappointed. He had done his best and it was not enough to compete. He was not used to that at all.

That night there was a party for the 6th graders at one of the kid’s houses. I was thrilled that he wanted to go because he was already starting to separate from his disappointment.

But this was a new experience for me. I did not know the parents who were hosting the party or the kids or the neighborhood or what to expect.

I told Bear he could go but that I would take him and I had to meet the parents to know that adults would be home. This wasn’t his day at all. Not only did he not make the final team, now his mother had to accompany him to a middle school party in the land of everyone else is driven by their drivers and dropped off. It turns out that out of 100 kids in 6th grade, only two parents went in to make sure parents were there. It was truly a whole new world for me.

Poor Bear.

But he knows me well and did not fight it.

What a gift that ride to the party was.

Because I was not driving, I had the chance to talk to Bear without any distractions. We both sat in the back seat in the dark and talked. Even the dark was a gift because he did not have to really look at me, just listen and periodically mumble, “I know Mom”.

I told him how proud I was of him for trying something new and that I was amazed by how he handled this whole move to India. I bored him with my thoughts on how he should still be so proud of himself because it is the journey that counts and that I completely understood why he was disappointed. I even said that he had a right to be disappointed but that he had to understand that the coach was picking the best team he could. It wasn’t personal. And it did not mean he didn’t do an amazing job.

Then we heard…tap…tap….tap.

We both knew what it was. It had already become a too familiar sound. Someone was knocking on our window to ask for food or money. We were becoming a little immune to it, sadly. Immune is not the right word – maybe we were allowing ourselves some distance from it.

This is one of the hardest things to admit about poverty. When you are living in the middle of it everyday, you allow yourself to ignore it. You feel helpless and there are times when you will actually be irritated by the fact that someone is struggling. At times, you will become dismissive and even rude to a person who is starving and homeless. Even a young child.

Gulp. You will actually resent that someone needs help. And you resent it not because you don’t care but because you feel so overwhelmed by it. That is the hard reality of living comfortably in a poor country. You cannot pretend real poverty does not exist because you slide through it every single day but you have absolutely no impact on it. Helping doesn’t change it and ignoring it makes you sick to your stomach.

We both turned to the window and could not see anyone there.

Bear looked down to find a man on a small, wheeled wooden box. He had no legs. He was unnaturally thin and dirty and had an empty look in his eyes. He had to brush his hands along the hot asphalt to move himself forward.

This is another thing that is incomprehensible. Even when someone who is living it is tapping on your window. You have to make a quick decision. Ignore it or help. I am not proud of how many times I chose “ignore”.

People who are really poor with absolutely nothing are willing to maim themselves because it makes them more competitive in the begging world. The more pathetic you seem, the more help you are likely to get.

We do not know if this man hurt himself or if he had an accident or if he was just born this way. But sometimes people really believe that their best option is to become as desperate-looking as possible and will damage their bodies to achieve that.

That is about as hopeless as it gets.

Bear and I looked down at the man and looked at each other and I simply said, “how much would that man love to be an alternate on the American Embassy School track team?”

That quickly became one of the many lessons we learned.

 

Homework Help………………..

If you read this, you know how much I love to help with math homework. Well, my son (and I) have now graduated to Algebra. Last night, he had a lot of home work and he was stuck on a few problems. He asked me for help.

Ummmm. No, hubby was not here – why do you ask? 😉

I kind of laughed and mumbled something about the blind leading the blind and sat down armed with a pencil and a scoop of Algebra hopefulness.

To be honest, I have been pretty surprised at my ability to help him navigate through his math homework so far. Don’t worry though – I am not resting on my laurels because I know I am about to hit a breaking point. When I initially look at a problem, it almost inevitably looks like alphabet soup and I feel woefully unqualified (even armed with my B.A. in English Writing) to help at all. But then, I look through the book and I look at his notes and we talk and e.v.e.n.t.u.a.l.l.y. we figure it out. I did actually go pretty far in math but the last time I used “x” and “y” for anything besides bonus points in Scrabble was well – cough – over 20 years ago.

And sometimes I have a hard time saying with a straight face that this is all important for him to learn. I cannot ever remember needing to know what ordered pairs fall on a given line. My life has been pretty full even without that ability readily at my fingertips.

Just as a side note – I found a great website that will give you the answer to a problem. It’s Mathway. You can also pay a subscription fee if you want to see the steps that get you to the answer. But so far, the answer has been enough to point me in the right direction. They are no fools though – I am sure they know that I am probably only one or two chapters away from hitting “subscribe”. tee hee.

My parenting mantra has always been “don’t sell yourself short” whether it be swimming or soccer or school or cleaning your room. Which Bear ever-so-kindly throws right back at me when I get intimidated by higher math even simple addition and subtraction sans calculator. (Note to self – be careful how you encourage your kids – set the bar low and they won’t throw it back at you. 😉 )

I could barely diagram sentences even as an English major, so figuring out linear equations looked a tad bit daunting. Yeah for me – last night’s homework – yep, linear equations. Okay. Let me get an extra strength Diet Dr. Pepper, channel Albert Einstein, and I will be right there.

We worked through one problem and moved on to the next. I started talking about the problem thinking, “bring it, I got this one” and he started chanting. Seriously?

Bear: la la la la la.
Me: Bear, here is what I think
Bear: la la la la la la
Me: Excuse me?
Bear: Mom, I am thinking – you are disrupting my thoughts.
Me: Yeah, you invited me over here. Do you remember that part?
Bear: Shhh.
Me: Did you just SHHHHussshhhh me?
Bear: Shhh.
Me: Shuffle Shuffle Shuffle (that was the sound of me backing away)
Bear: Where are you going? I need your help.
Me: My help. That is pretty funny. Remember the blind leading the blind? And you just told me to shhhhush.
Bear: Please come back and sit down.
Me: Did you just say please?
Bear: rolling his eyes – apparently teenage speak for yes, you know I did.
Mom, come on.

So here is the beauty of last night. Hubby was at work, the girls were at a practice, and my teenage son was begging me to sit with him. We worked together for an hour – completely uninterrupted – and talked about Algebra and all kinds of other stuff. It was really fabulous. We laughed a lot. And he actually figured it out mostly by himself. And, no that was not because my suggestions were so ridiculous that they triggered real possible answers to the front of his memory bank. Okay, maybe it was because of that. Just maybe.

When he was done, he looked at his assignment sheet and asked me to read it.

Me: Problems 1-4, 11-39 odd
Bear: Did you just say odd
Me: Yeah, did you do even
Bear: I did all
Me: More practice can’t be a bad thing right?
Bear: more of the eye rolling – apparently quite a versatile little trick that eye rolling – it can mean so many different things
Me: Reading directions before you start might be a better approach next time. Come on, you have a lot more homework to get done
Bear: It’s not my fault I have so much homework.
Me: blank stare (but no eye rolling – pinky swear)
Bear: Well, maybe it’s a little bit my fault. La la la la.

I am once again a fan of homework.

I know, a lot of parents don’t get too involved in homework – especially 8th grade math homework – and for the most part, I totally get that – independence and all that jazz – but I see real value in checking in every now and then. Your teenager might actually beg you to sit with him/her and might just pay (full) attention to what you are saying. And you might just learn about more than just Algebra.

And, just so I wouldn’t get to comfy cozy on my mommy thrown, he rode in the back seat this morning – not speaking to me. Apparently he was mad at me because I won’t let him walk by his younger sister and ever-so-gently knock the crap out of her with his backpack. I know, I know, I am so unreasonable.

Fear not, I explained very carefully to him why that was not exactly the best approach when tomorrow he might need my help with math again.

And then today – (almost) all the right answers ………

If you read this first, you will understand today’s post better….

So this morning my daughter asks me this question –

“Mom, why does a mom’s food always taste better than anyone else’s?”

Yes, that thud you heard was me falling over.

After I picked myself off the floor, I said, “I don’t know honey, it’s probably just what you are used to.”

To which she replied, “but Mom, your food is sooooo good.”

Yes, she is going to go far in life.

Her brother called her a “suck up” and then asked me if I had lost weight.

Very smart those two. 😉

Their sister on the other hand complained that I had made her biscuits instead of cereal.

I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

Wrong Question…………

When I start talking about having staff in India, I know some of you are thinking – oh jeez, here she goes again. But please bear with me because today I figured out the number one reason that having staff was bad for my family – or any family who is not going to have staff working in its home forever. You get a little too used to it. Our reality does not include a driver, a cook, a guard, a housekeeper, a gardener, and a laundress. Well, it does – but funny enough, they are all the same person – me. And the pay ain’t quite the same.

So, for those children who actually read this blog – both of you – are you listening? Here are some of the wrong conversations/situations to find yourselves in….

Scenario 1
Mom has done the laundry (including your smelly gym clothes and soccer socks) and has washed the all the breakfast dishes (after making you breakfast) and now has brownies in the oven (because she knows you love them – she even went to two stores to find the exact ones that you like – because God forbid you have your second favorite kind of brownie warm from the oven right when you walk in the door from school). She has just finished wiping off the counter and sweeping the floor. She turned off the news when you walked in the door (even though it was the story she had been waiting all day to hear) so she could listen (with focus) to how your day went. After you chat and have a yummy chocolately treat, Mom goes to sweep the floor again because there are now mysteriously brownie crumbs all over it.

It is here that the real potential for danger exists. If she then asks you to take out the trash or vacuum the basement or even lick the litter box clean – the exact wrong question is……do I have to? I will help you here because I know most of you are treading on new ground. The right answer is …..O!M!G! Mom, I would so love to do all of those things for you. And, by the by, you actually then have to do them (because sometimes it is more than the thought that counts) and then say ….. and Mom, did you get your hair cut because it looks marvelous. Do you see the difference?

Scenario 2:
You have decided that it is in your best interest to join a practice group that practices very early on Saturday mornings. This causes your mother – who sleeps through tornadoes – to have to get out of bed at 5:15A.M. on a Saturday morning. The roosters have not even learned to crow at this point and your mother is up and driving you to practice. And, yes, she is very proud of you for getting up and getting out the door – that is not the problem. Read on.

When you get back home, your very tired mother makes (okay, warms up) waffles because that is what you asked for (and no it does not matter if they are frozen v. homemade). She also makes eggs and biscuits because that is what your brother asked for. And she also makes bacon because apparently your sister would like that. You are distracted by the goings on of SpongeBob so I can understand why you don’t realize that was a lot to accomplish before 8:30am. But you push it a tad too far when you ask …… Mom, can you pour syrup in to a small bowl and bring it over here? Really?

Here’s the problem – at some point you are going to want to drive a car. If you cannot handle pouring syrup into a bowl (even a small bowl) all by your lonesome, I am pretty sure that operating heavy machinery is off the can-do list. The right answer is…….Mom, these are the most delicious waffles I have ever had. They don’t even need syrup. And by the way, did you get your hair cut because it looks amazing. Or maybe you lost weight. See how that is different?

Scenario 3
You love to ride your scooter. You have ridden it and fallen off of it a million and one times. So, your mom knows that you are one tough cookie even if you scream like a banchee. Sooooo, if you fall off said scooter the exact moment that your mom calls a friend to vent over another mom who is making her c.r.a.z.y. and she sees you fall, she might not panic and hang up immediately because she knows you are okay. And she knows that you had a 14-minute delay in crying. So, she really might not hang up the phone right away. No matter how big those crocodile tears are – because if you can stop and have a snack on the way to tell her how hurt you are, the reality of it is – you are probably going to be just fine. Operating heavy machinery may also not be in your future but you most likely don’t need to be rushed to Children’s Hospital. You might need therapy later – but right now, it’s all good.

Please forgive the parenting rant – but seriously. I don’t know how single parents do it – God love you!

Time to Write………

We have been home for 2 months now and it has been great. But I have gotten some grief from my readers about not writing enough anymore – and no, they are not all related to me and no, money did not exchange hands. It’s just now that I am once again doing all the shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, driving, etc, I have not found/made the time to write.

Today is the perfect example of why I am short on time. My son had plans to head out to a sleep away camp this morning. He needed to meet the camp bus at 9:30am packed and ready to go – and apparently healthy. Oh. Yeah that would be good.

Healthy. I will have to remember that next time I am packing socks and snacks and bug spray.

Luckily, we were smart enough to pack last night. And don’t kid yourself into thinking that packing was super fun. Apparently, what a mom thinks a 13 year old boy needs on a 5-day trek into the wilderness and what that young man thinks he will need are two very different things – even if they both speak English and are reading from the same sheet. He thought it would all fit in a backpack because he didn’t want to be the only one with a suitcase. Really? I did not realize that teenagers have become suitcase phobic. I still have so much to learn. But okay, try it. Knock yourself out.

Famous last words: “Mom, this isn’t all going to fit – I need a bigger bag. Maybe even a suitcase.”

Really? That is simply shocking. I so did not see that coming. 😉

So we transferred everything from the backpack with so much potential to the more realistically sized suitcase. And it even zipped up. But when we tried to put a second bathing suit in, we realized the zipper was actually broken on the suitcase. We were both tired so we decided to address the great zipper incident in the a.m. He wanted to wake up at 7:30am so we were going to have p.l.e.n.t.y. o’ t.i.m.e.

Or so I thought. He woke up this morning and says, “Mom, my ear really hurts. I am pretty sure I have an ear infection or swimmers ear.”

Me: That’s great honey. Are you sure? Because you have to be on a bus in an hour and a half. And if you miss the bus – well, that means I am spending the day in the car. The entire day. In the car.

And, by the by, I know good and damn well he is sure because he has never told me this and been wrong. Arrrgggh. However, I did have the clarity of gratitude to be very, very thankful that he is old enough to tell me where it hurts and maybe even why it hurts. I do not (for even one second) miss the days of trying to translate tears and screams in to one of six possible problem categories – hungry, my sister took my truck, tired, dirty diaper, sick, and/or absolutely undeterminable and therefore unsolvable. I was also very thankful that he actually told me about it, even though he might have understood that it could have totally meant that he might not get to go on this five-day, fun-in -the-sun, week-without-parents and/or siblings, eat-all-the-junk-food-you-want, stay-up-way-too-late, no-summer-homework extravaganza.

Well, at least I thought he understood that until I had a mommy realization moment. I thanked him for telling me and not just pretending to be okay even though it really could mean that he might not be able to go at all or that I might end up driving him the f.o.u.r. and a h.a.l.f. hours to camp and then back again (another four and a half hours) – and he looked at me with absolute disbelief that him not getting on that bus in merely an hour and half was at all a possibility. He clearly had complete confidence that I could make this all happen quickly and magically. That I am surely capable of diagnosing then healing an ear infection while finding the chapstick and simultaneously growing enough money on a tree so that he could buy unlimited snacks and milkshakes and possibly even an extra camp t-shirt. That is when I fully understood that it isn’t quite yet time to put my super hero mommy cape away. At least not yet. Even at 13, I am still a rock star. Yes, that pretty much made it all worth it.

The rest of the very long story short is that we have a fantabulous doctor who squeezed us in and diagnosed my little Bear with – guess what – an ear infection. Our wonderful, wonderful nurse faxed the prescription to the pharmacy and I diligently obeyed all traffic guidelines (which is important because my drivers license happens to be in my husband’s wallet that just happens to be in New York City – oh yes, that means I am single parenting at the moment – even better, right) and then we rolled in safely to the Giant Pharmacy. Where the pharmacist knew nothing of our prescription. Perfecto. But I had the hard copy – yeah me still earning that super hero cape – and begged for a quick fill of our prescription. We had just enough time to obey all traffic guidelines once again and rush drive carefully home and change out the problem suitcase for a new suitcase with a functioning zipper so that Bear’s underwear wouldn’t fall out all over the ground in front of the very cute 8th grade girls on the bus. (And by the by, parents of 8th grade girls – could you buy your daughters longer shorts? Not necessarily the girls on this bus but just in general. That would be great. Thanks.)

In the end, Bear even had time to take a quick and very hot last civilized shower before camp. Then it was right back to the pharmacy to get both of his prescriptions and a doughnut – any mom with a super hero cape certainly knows that antibiotics can upset an empty tummy and a doughnut has been scientifically proven to be a comfort food. And yes, I got myself one too – I earned it after all.

We made it to the bus stop with exactly two minutes to spare. That is where Bear decided he did not exactly need me anymore and I got a shoulder bump and a quick hug goodbye. Oh yeah, and a “mom, I’m fine.” My cape dropped a little with that one. But I perked up when I saw the plethora of suitcases under the bus. Who knew that other teenagers might actually use real luggage to get their camp belongings from one place to another? All is truly right with the world.

And, yes, the bus was at least a half an hour late leaving. And no, I don’t think 10am is too early to start drinking. 😉

P.S. My dear blog buddy Loco tagged me as one of his favorite women bloggers in Asia – that was awesome too. Thanks Loco!

Update from Yesterday…………the recovery of a twice wet blackberry

It worked! My phone works. I am going to give you the steps I took just in case you find yourself in the same predicament of dropping your phone in liquid – twice….

In case you missed yesterday’s post – I dropped my phone in my soda – and then in an attempt to get a picture of what a stupid thing I had done, I dropped my phone in diet Coke a second time. Yes, that was in fact more stupider.

In order to try recovering my poor, poor phone, I immediately pulled it out of the cup and dried as much of the phone off as I could.

Then I took off the back and took out the battery.

Then I paper toweled every piece I could.

Then I blew into the keyboard portion and dried the back off. You’d be amazed how much soda came out this way.

Then I cursed at myself for being a little dumb.

I put the battery in and tried to turn it on – no luck. And now I understand that this was exactly what n.o.t. to do until you are pretty comfortable your phone is as dry as it can be.

Then I put the pieces of my phone in uncooked rice – this is supposed to help pull out the moisture. I left them to set for several hours.

Then I thought about praying but realized there is an oil spill, starvation, and much bigger things on his radar screen – I just might not make the top one million on the list of things that require God’s immediate attention.

So, I did the Scarecrow Dance from Wizard of Oz – you know the one – “If I Only Had A Brain”.

I tried to turn it on again. And some of it worked. The rolling ball would not work and the “N” key read as a “J” key and the “F” key read as a “C” key – but this is progress and I am not a super duper speller anyway – people just might not notice.

I cursed myself again.

Then (because my son had a flash of brilliance) I used the Dust Off can of air that you can use to clean your keyboard and blew air through every crevice on the phone I could find.

After that, I left the phone unassembled on the counter under a light over night.

Then in the morning I reassembled everything, took a deep breath, and waited. And it worked!

And then I pretty much repeated the whole process over again.

Diet Coke and Cell Phones Don’t Mix…………..

Apparently. Wanna know how I know? That’s right – after lecture upon lecture of telling my children how not to treat their cell phones – after speech upon speech about the dangers of liquids and cell phones – after insisting that they put their phones in plastic bags anytime they are going to hold their phones and even breathe near it, I decided to carry my cell phone like this…..

Oh wait, I tried to recreate the visual for you (because that went so well on the first go round) and guess what happened. You got it. My phone fell into my soda again. Dammit and yes, I am apparently a complete moron – either that or I just love you so much and I wanted to protect you from making the same mistake I did that I was willing to risk life and cell for you. Let’s just go with that. Smooches.

Obviously there is not a picture because I had to put down the camera to rescue my beloved phone from my soda (again) and so I will just have to explain what happened. I drink a lot of soda – that is a problem to address for another day – but I like to drink it out of  plastic cup – so yes, I am an idiot and a little bit of a redneck. Great combination right. Hubby is a lucky, lucky man.

So anysoda, when I move from the kitchen to my office I like to make just one trip. I usually put my blackberry over the top of my soda and very carefully carry it the 4 and a half feet to my office. And it has worked well almost every time. But if you own a hand held electronic device you probably know that it just takes once.

And yesterday was that once – or at least it was the first once. My phone dropped in my soda for the first time. We just all signed up for a new plan when we returned from India – so yep, it is my new phone – and, go ahead ask me if I got insurance. Why would I do that when I am so careful with my phone? I am a professional cell phone protector – I have given speeches on protecting phones from the dreaded wetness and I have trained small children in the ways of cell phone safety. I don’t need insurance – do I? argh. Maybe. But that did not stop me from n.o.t. getting the insurance plan – don’t have it.

But here is the good news. I went online and looked for suggestions on Blackberry Emergency Room procedures. Several people suggested soaking the phone in a bowl of uncooked rice (please be sure to use uncooked rice lest you need to write your own blog post) for several hours. I did that and it was certainly working better but not perfectly. My little Bear is a smart little Bear and around the corner he came with a Dust Off Can – you know that ridiculous can of air with a long thin straw that they sell you so that you can clean the keyboard on your computer? Well we blew the heck out of the phone and now it is working. Oh wait, it was working.

If you need to reach me over the next few hours, please email. My phone is soaking in rice again. 🙁  The good news for you is that I am retesting the rice theory  – I am nothing if not thorough – I will report back to you if it works (again).

Back on Track – Hong Kong Disney……

It’s been too long since I have shared more of our India adventures with you – and there is so much left to tell – so I am trying to get back on track.

On our way back from our recent trip to China, we made a pit stop in Hong Kong. To be very, very honest, we mostly stopped in Hong Kong because there is a Disney park there. I know, I know – I can hear the collective gasps throughout the web – so much history – so much culture – and you stopped to see the mouse? But we figured – why not!

And it turns out there is not a ton to see in Hong Kong anyway. It is mostly known for its shopping and we knew were returning to America so we did not need to do a lot of shopping. So Disney it was.

Hong Kong Disney is not as large as its sister park in Florida, especially because it is just the Disney park – there is no Epcot or Safari or water park. I would say it was really good for my youngest but there are not many bigger kid rides – we did all thoroughly enjoy it though. But one day is plenty.

If you go and plan to watch any of the shows, be careful to check which language they will be presented in. English is the main language but the shows are done in a few others also – better to understand what they are actually saying than not.

You also have to be careful in Disney because some of those women are sneaky. This chick thought she could steal my man. She was such a bimbo. Honestly. And he is smiling because he is afraid I am going to take down the mouse – not because he is the least little bit flattered.

She is apparently also part cougar.

While the men in my family were being flirted with by the tart star of the show, I was getting kisses from the grumpy donkey who can’t keep a home to save his life.

And, I completely understand that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – but really? There were several women dressed like Minnie Mouse. And when I say several – I mean, s.e.v.e.r.a.l.

And, witchy wonders,  I got to ride my broom. tee hee.

This park had a lot of the old favorites – It’s a Small World

The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

And Angel is a h.u.g.e. Winnie the Pooh fan. So, when he squished her with those big ole honey bear arms she literally melted. That was the moment that we knew going to Disney was the right thing to do – history shmistory.

Those dreaded fantastic teacups – which my children LOVE and I don’t LOVE so much at all. So I volunteered to take pictures. Very generous of me, I know. It’s just one of those sacrifices I am willing to make as a parent.

And the line got cut off for the picture with Alice in Wonderland before we were able to get in it – so no, we did not adopt a child in Disney – I just could not get a picture of her with my own child. If I learn to Photoshop, you will never know the difference. I really wanted to stomp my foot and scream “not fair” because clearly this little Chesire Cat has no idea how lucky he is to have his picture taken with the “real” Alice but that mean old Queen of Hearts was watching and she scares me a little bit.

And yes, I appreciate how much my husband must love me to take this picture with me – but please do not discount the fact that he might just have done it because it was w.a.y. easier to smile and be done with it than it would have been to not do it and hear about it all day long. 😉 Okay, he didn’t officially smile but he didn’t not smile either. Win. Win.

There was also the Buzz Lightyear ride, the Tarzan treehouse, the Lion King Show, and a few other recognizable Disney favorites.

And of course, there was a parade. So fun!

And I would not buy my children actual balloons but I was willing to take a picture of some that another parent found purchase worthy so that my own kids have hard evidence that I really am the meanest mom on the planet and denied them the thrill of a helium high later that night.


We also did a character meal where even the pancakes matched the whole mouse theme. They were almost too cute to eat – almost.

We did hit a few snafus – one being that the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night in the hotel. Great to know that my children can sleep through an alarm screeching warnings at full volume. Yikes. Luckily it was a false alarm and we did not have to leave our rooms.

The other snafu was at the character meal where the fine folks at Disney thought it might be okay to make us wait for over 30 minutes to sit down at the meal (that we had reservations for and spent a good chunk of college savings on) just to tell us when we finally sat down that the characters needed a break and would be back in an hour.

I will let you figure out for yourself how that worked out for the fine folks at Disney. tee hee.

And don’t think for one second that I didn’t whisper in that mouse’s big arse ear that his little girlfriend better check herself! 😉

Some days are tougher than others……….

I often start these posts by saying how hard it is to really explain life here – but it really, really is. No really – it really is. It sounds exotic and privileged and fascinating and it is absolutely all of those things. But life here can be difficult to manage. I miss the conveniences and the independence. Never mind family and friends because that is another blog post entirely.

This week Flower has been pretty sick. She just got over chicken pox and jumped right into some unknown something or other that nobody can really seem to pinpoint. When your kids are sick in a third world country and you cannot exactly define what is going on, the adventure becomes a tad less appealing. I want to be clear that I have never felt she was in any danger (that is for the grandparents who read this blog) but it has been frustrating. Flower just really doesn’t get sick – so to see her really unable to get out of bed just stinks. And to have everyone just sort of shrug their shoulders with a “oh, this is normal, come back in a few days” attitude is just not what I am looking for in medical care.

Flower had her appendix out when she was 7. She was very close to it rupturing. In the emergency room, the doctor practically stood on her stomach. She had no reaction at all. He was walking out of the room, convinced that she was going to be just fine because there was absolutely no way that a child with appendicitis would not react to that kind of pressure, when the CT scan came back. We were in the operating room 10 minutes later – it appeared she did in fact have a very infected appendix.

She just doesn’t get knocked out. So to hear the doctor(s) say – she looks listless, but she just isn’t that sick – augh. I want to jump through my mommy skin and send them back to medical school. Isn’t the first thing they learn to trust the mother’s instinct? If it isn’t, it should be. Something is going on with her.

And of course, if we were home, I wouldn’t be so worried because the chances of getting Dengue Fever, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Encephalitis, and all those other scary things are just a wee bit less.

Then if you add having staff working for you it gets so flippin complicated.

My cook knows just what is wrong with her. He has not even been to culinary school, much less medical school but he knows just what is wrong.

Francis: She has a fever?
Me: Yes
Francis: This will take a week – maybe 5 days
Me: Okay
Francis: But don’t worry ma’am – last night I prayed for her
Me: thank you, that was very thoughtful of you
Francis: Jesus will take care of it.
Me: I believe that
Francis: Jesus will make her better

Now, I want to be clear that I am very glad Jesus is on it. And I didn’t realize that Francis had such tight connections. But I am not leaving it to prayer – I have been doing that myself too – but we can also take some a.c.t.i.o.n.

One of the really nice things in India is that I do have the cell phone number of our doctor. So, I called her directly and made an appointment (yes that is crazy). She was able to make an appointment for us in half an hour (also insane). That means we need to leave right away.

However, our driver had gone out to get mosquito nets for our beds because Bear is getting eaten alive when he sleeps (and, yep, we have taken many precautions so that mosquitoes don’t enter our house – but they are persistent little buggers). He went to the market near us and felt that the nets were too expensive – so he decided to drive to a market that was quite a distance from our house to save us about 200 rupees (that would be $4). Nope, he did not ask first – just decided that would be the thing to do. So now he cannot get back quickly to get our daughter to her doctor appointment and the doctor is leaving shortly. Yes, I am frustrated. While I really appreciate the fact that he was trying to save us money – getting our daughter to the doctor is a m.u.c.h. bigger priority. M_U_C_H  B_I_G_G_E_R.

We ultimately figured it out. Hubby took Flower in another car with another driver and I met them at the doctor’s office. On my way, I got to hear all about the cost savings and the available colors of mosquito nets and all about traffic and how this vendor did this and that vendor did this and holy four dollars, batman. I was polite – but really – not caring so much about the whole story. Just. want. to. get. to. the. doctor. yesterday.

The doctor looked her over and really felt we needed to wait a couple of days to do any testing. See how Flower does. Keep her in a cool room. No school. Lots of liquids. You know the drill.

So Hubby took Flower home and I went to buy Gatorade. This involved 3 phone calls. You just cannot assume anything – in the U.S., I could tell you 18 places that sell Gatorade within walking distance of my house. Here – you better check first. So, I found out where I believed the Gatorade would  be. Went there. And they had it – yeah! And they also had the Starbucks coffee drinks that Hubby loves.

I thought I would get him a few. So I asked if they had the “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks.

Me: Do you have the “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks?
Him: Yes, how many do you want?
Me: I see Mocha, Vanilla, and Caramel – but not Coffee – do you have that?
Him: Yes, how many do you want?
Me: I want the “coffee” flavor – you have Vanilla, Mocha, and Caramel – see right here on the label (picture me pointing to the label) – I want the one that says “coffee” – I can see why it is confusing because they all say “coffee” but there are different flavors.
Him: How many
Me: I looked at all of the boxes here – I don’t see “Coffee”. Do you have “coffee”.
Him: Yes, how many do you want?

Just a note here – Indians don’t seem to make 15 varieties of the same product – so I want to be fair that it is not their fault that Starbucks has complicated the simpleness of a coffee drink. But even in this land of “oh sure, they all speak English” sometimes it is very, very difficult to get your point across. Finally, after he took all the boxes off the shelf (and yep, he watched me do the exact same thing just moments before) and realized there wasn’t actually a coffee drink called “coffee”.

He disappeared around the corner and – wahlah – and after (quite) a few minutes – came back with 8 “coffee-flavored” coffee drinks. I am not sure when the understanding of what I was trying to say kicked in but hubby is glad it did. At least the guy did not promise me the drinks “tomorrow” or compliment me on being the “first customer of the day”.

Hubby also asked me to pick up a pizza. I was weary of this because the pizza joint he wanted pizza from is a more of a “by the slice” kind of place. But I thought I would give it a shot.

I went up to the window and there was a whole cheese pizza sitting in the display case. I think I actually let out a sigh – this is not going to be as complicated as I thought. Yahoo for me.

Me: I would like a pizza
Her: That will be 75 rupees (that is $1.50)
Me: Really, for a whole pizza?
Her: Oh, you want the whole pizza?
Me: Yes
Her: That is eight slices (with a completely confused look on her face)
Me: Yes it is – that’s what I would like
Her: But that is eight slices
Me: Got it – I would like a whole pizza puhleassssseeee – in fact this one in the window will do nicely
Her: No, we’ll make you a fresh one – it will take 3 minutes.
(Just another note – if you are thinking, “that is amazing – they can make a pizza in 3 minutes” – my dear friend, I have a lovely bridge I would like you to consider buying – you are my first customer of the day and I will give you my very best price – tomorrow.)
Me: Honestly, this one is good
Her: You don’t want a fresh one?
Me: Nope – pretty sure this one that is already done is just great
Her: We’ll add cheese to it
Me: It has cheese on it – can I really please just take this one – as it is – now?
Her: Do you want it in one big box or each slice in its own box

Here is where I faltered. I was thinking about all the trash that eight slice boxes would be. So, I opted for the big box. But that changes what they normally do – it threw them for a little bit of a loop. The guy working there climbed up a ladder and went into a very small ceiling compartment. He did bring down a box. A very, very dirty box. It was dusty and greasy – I’ll spare you the details – but let’s just say you probably wouldn’t spit your gum out in it much less use it for a pizza that you actually planned to eat – and feed to your already sick child.

Me: Yeah, that box is kind of dirty
Her: You don’t want this box
Me: I am thinking hell no not exactly – is there another one up there?
Her: Okay – we’ll get another one

And they did get another box. It was better. But I am not kidding when I say they spent 5 minutes trying to put it together. It was apparently a broken box – still better than a dirty box – but broken nonetheless. So they performed box surgery and taped it 18 different ways. All of which came loose before I got all the way to the car.

The bottom line in this is that it took me 15 minutes to get the pizza that was already cooked and ready to go. Of course, it was worse because I really just wanted to get the Gatorade to Flower. But sometimes it is difficult to accomplish simple things here. And it is hard to understand why it is so complicated.

I finally got home and now Bear’s mosquito net is up over his bed. My first thought was – great, now we live in a Tarzan movie.

We ended the day by taking Flower to another doctor just to make sure we should not be concerned about anything scary. He had a completely different impression of what was wrong than doctor number 1. And no, I did not pick up a pizza on the way home.

It was a long day of  complications. So, most of the time I am jumping right in and enjoying our experiences here, some days are tougher than others.