Tag Archives: parenting

Oops – I forgot one – Momastery….

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the blogs I have been following. I completely forgot about Momastery – which is actually ridiculous because Glennon is all sorts of awesomesauce.

Glennon is a fabulous writer who puts thoughts like this into real sentences…

“I am confident because I believe that I am a child of God. I am humble because I believe that everyone else is, too.”

Glennon is  a recovering alcoholic and bulimic and a recovering mother and wife. She doesn’t pretend that parenting isn’t easy and she celebrates that it’s not impossible.

She has a tremendous sense of humor and isn’t one bit afraid to say what she really thinks.And it’s extra loverly that what she thinks is pretty fair and balanced and full of compassion and acceptance. What I love most about her is that she turns thoughts upside down and inside out before she spits them out. Plus she coordinates very generous things for people in real need.

AnyMomastery, I am honestly a little late in joining the bandwagon but if you haven’t seen her work, check it out soon.

What I Didn’t Know Then………

My parenting journey is a long, long way from being complete. But, even though I know I have a lot to learn, I do feel wiser than I used to think I was. Huh? Yeah, I have (finally) learned some things that make my parenting life easier.

One of the most important things that I have realized is that my children keep my worry chest busy enough. I don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about how little Johnny’s parents handle Johnny. And I can cross my fingers that Johnny’s parents won’t have an opinion about my parenting – but that is simply a waste of time. As a parent you will be criticized by other parents. Don’t take it personally. It is just your turn. Someone else will get a turn soon enough.

As a parent, you only have to follow your heart and intuition and do what you believe is right for your kids.  Even if it is in direct conflict with what other parents are doing or not doing. Trust your gut.

Along those lines, trust your kids instincts, too. It’s definitely hard when your kids don’t necessarily want to play with the children of your friends. But forcing friendships isn’t any easier. It makes for stressful play dates and stressful mommies. And moms can be friends even when kids aren’t.

Sooner than you can even imagine, your little munchkins will be in school all day and you can connect with your friends over lunch. Steering clear of uncomfortable friendships will be much more important for your kiddos later in life. A little practice at articulating how they feel is a good, good thing – even if it makes us uncomfortable because they might not come across as being “nice”. Allowing them to trust their instincts will help them to follow through on those feelings when you aren’t right there.

Teaching kids to be gracious is extremely important but being nice at their own expense might not be such a great lesson to learn.

Another little tidbit that I personally learned the hard way is that words don’t taste so good going back down. Never (yep, never) say “I would never ……… ” Or even worse, “My child would never…….” Because guess what happens next? I will give you one guess. 😉

Yes, my youngest child has a cell phone and has played the Xbox game Call of Duty (maybe even more than once) – and she has seen almost all of the Harry Potter movies. Are you asking, “isn’t she only 9?” Maybe.

Are you now asking if I swore that Harry Potter was way too dark for my son when he was 9 and that 9 was ridiculously young for any type of personal electronics? Maybe. Possibly. Burp. So sorry, please pardon me.

And seriously, you simply cannot make your child faster, taller, smarter, funnier, prettier, or any other “er”. But the good news is that they are fabulous just as they are. Most children learn to read. Most children talk. Most children walk. When they hit about third grade, it has pretty much leveled out. The rock stars aren’t rocking as hard and the average-to-slow kids are catching up. The early readers are reading, but so are the late bloomers. Pretty much everyone has given up diapers and pacifiers. And hard work begins to matter as much as, if not more than, natural ability. And don’t go bringing up the likes of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. You know what I mean.

And speaking of reading. It is important to read with your children because it is fun to do it. They love the attention you give them when you share a book with them. It does help them learn to read. But it is not so important for you to stress out about teaching them to read. They will learn to read. (If you don’t believe me, reread the paragraph above. Oh yea, that’s me talking too. Sorry. Ask a parent of an older child. Oh, you don’t know about that yet? Please keep reading.)

It’s also extremely helpful for you to have adult friends with older kids. They have a better perspective on what is really important to worry about with smaller children. And they will tell you what is important to know about school and classes and teams and all the stuff you will be dealing with in the next phase of parenting.  They will be gentle with you because they have been there but they might laugh a tiny bit – don’t worry, they are not being critical – it’s just that they are remembering when. And their kids can babysit for you. Bonus.

I personally feel (and no, I am not a teacher, doctor, or educator – so this is just my opinion) that the single most important thing you can teach your kids is confidence. If your kids feel safe trying something new no matter how it turns out, they will always be successful. If they are not intimidated by people, places, or activities, they have a tremendous advantage. Tremendous. Children who are smart but are afraid of failure will face more challenges than those children who are “average” but brave and confident. Children need to know that their parents will love them no matter what. And parents, we need to love our children no matter what. Home should be a safe place to fall. And get up and fall. Again. And again. Always. Every time.

When our children are learning to walk, we encourage them to stumble and tumble. We let them go boom on the concrete and bump off of coffee tables. Even when they fall and cry, we say “get back up, you can do it.” We don’t say, “why didn’t you walk better?” We are proud and we smile and we hold out both hands and we hug them tightly. That should never, ever change.

Not too long ago I read a passage that went something like …. intelligence is not measured best when children know what to do, it is measured best by how children respond when they do not know what to do. (Yes, I wish I knew who said it – but I don’t -sorry.)

And when you are proud, tread lightly on the bragging. If you believe you have an exceptional child and you are sharing how fabulous your child is with another parent, please keep in mind that they most likely feel that their child is (at least) equally as exceptional as your little superstar.

Hey, I never said this parenting stuff was easy. It’s all a tricky balance.

I actually had a parent try to convince me that her child was better at the dentist than my child was. I started to defend how well my child handled the dentist when I quickly realized how nuts the conversation was. Seriously? We are competing over who handles the dentist better? Really. I am quite sure there are more important quandaries to tackle.I don’t know like civil unrest in Libya – Tsunamis in Japan – poverty anywhere – the civil unrest in my laundry room. Blah Blah Blah.

Parenting will probably be the hardest thing you ever do. You will bleed love for your kids and, at some point, one of  your beloveds will stand at the top of the stairs and scream at the top of their lungs that they hate you. And they will mean it. For a little while at least. But not forever. And you will cry and laugh and love and fear and rejoice more than you ever have before. Put that seatbelt on. It’s going to be a fabulously bumpy ride.

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.

Document this………………

During the past two weeks, I have nearly used up my 15 minutes of fame. First, auditioning for a movie and then meeting with a lady who films documentaries.

Chances are very good that I will not appear in either film. But both opportunities have really been “life experiences” that I will not forget. In fact, I will probably bore you to tears by telling you these two stories over and over again.

The woman who is producing the documentary is Yasmin Kidwai. She found my blog and sent me an email. She is filming a documentary called “Indian by Choice.”

Here is what she wrote:

I just came across your blog. Very interesting. I am making a film-a documentary on Indians by Choice-People who have chosen to live in India-I could not find any information about you on your blog. If you think you fit into this film and would like to  share your experience with me  pls call me. Thanks…i look forward to hearing from you.

Yes, I heard that collective gasp – no, I don’t really “fit” the theme of the film because we absolutely plan to return home. Yasmin is really looking for people who have chosen to make India their home and not just people who have come here for work. (If that is you, please let me know – I can put you in contact with Yasmin.)

When I called Yasmin back, she realized that I might not be the right person and she ended our conversation by telling me if I could find a compelling reason to include us in the film, I should email her. Honestly, what she said offended me a little – what did she mean, compelling reasons? So, I wrote back to her – then I edited it and sent this:

This is me from A Reason To Write – India (a blog about our life in India). I called you this morning in response to your email about my blog.

You asked me to write to you if I could find compelling reasons to include us in your documentary. Please forgive me for saying so, but that comment took me by surprise. It almost came across as though we could not be sincere global citizens if we came here merely for employment.

It sounds like you are looking for people who have chosen to live here for reasons other than work. My husband found a job that afforded him the opportunity to bring our family to India. He has worked with Indian people in the U.S. for many years and has tremendous respect for the Indian culture and ways of  life. He wanted us to be able to experience life in India first hand for so many reasons. He could have simply brought us to visit – but he knew that was not the same as living here. Immersing ourselves in a life so foreign to what we had been used to.

Mainly, it is good to see the world outside the bubble you are used to – wherever that bubble is. And India could not be more different from the U.S. in tremendous ways – some good, some not so great. It is important to understand that the world is not the same everywhere for everyone. I think by living in India our family has found more gratitude and more grace and has become more willing to reach out to those around us. We are coming to appreciate the world in new ways and embrace the differences. And where we do not have the understanding to embrace the differences, we are working to at least accept them.

My husband also came for the experience of working in the outsourcing industry – to understand how it is changing the world economy. India is changing the way America operates and the best way to understand that is to be here living it everyday.

You also asked about my writing. India has opened that door for me. It was our decision to move here that inspired me to follow my passion of writing. Moving to India has given me “A Reason To Write.” It has been amazing to chronicle our experiences here. To journal memories I do not want to escape me when we leave here. To relight my joy of the written word.

And, yes, we do plan to leave here. Our home is in the U.S. because our life long friends and our family are there. But India will never leave us. It is shaping who were are and how we want to interact with the world. You cannot live here and remain unchanged. And that is why my husband wanted us to come.

Best wishes on a very successful documentary. Please do not discount those of us who have come to live in India thru a job opportunity. Our appreciation of India should not be dampened by the means we used to get here. Thanks again.

Yasmin wrote back and invited me for an interview. I still don’t really fit the theme of her film but it was a real treat to meet her. She is a mother and a woman and a person trying to understand how foreigners come to love India and never leave it. I can appreciate all of that.

If you have been following this blog for a while you might already appreciate the irony in this post. Just in case you are new – here it is. When my husband asked me if I wanted to move our family to India, I asked him if that was a new street in our neighborhood. I could barely fathom it. Although I knew from the very moment he asked me that we would be moving, I just had a hard time accepting it. And now, well now, I am defending my right to be here, embracing all that India has given us, and absorbing the changes we are seeing in ourselves and in our kids. I guess that is just about as full circle as it gets.

If you give a mom an ipod…………….

There is a book called “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” It is about a mouse that gets very distracted along its way during the day. That is the story of my life. I. get. very. distracted. In fact, there is another book called “If You Give a Pancake.” I think we will all agree at the end of this post that this title more aptly applies.

Walk with me……..

I have been getting a few emails about the tone of my blog lately. Nothing bad or negative. Just some people are concerned. I guess I have been a little heavier in my writing lately. So I vowed this week to return to my smartarse ways.

One of the things I wanted to write about was my response to the new “no junk food” policy at the school. The policy in which you cannot buy potato chips but you can buy cookies and brownies with icing. Yes, I have a lot to say about that. Surprised? I still plan to write that because I am v.e.r.y. interested to see what you all have to say about it. But now I am distracted – see how this works?

I was distracted because before I started writing that post, I was looking through a few pictures to send some emails and I got a glimpse of a picture of me from the back. Yikes. Not what I have allowed myself to imagine pretend at all. This is what we call an exercise fail. and a reality fail. At least I can still multi-task.

So, I grab my ipod and decide to recommit myself to exercising a couple of times a week. Starting now. Right now. I am also revisiting my stance on potato chips. Yeah, not really – but I might have to walk more to start competing in triathalons. Off I go.

Well, it seems I have let the battery in my ipod run out. Yes, I was very committed to the exercising thing. Can you tell? Ipod fail.

No problemo – I grab my son’s ipod that is completely charged and I head out to walk.

As I am walking, I realize I don’t recognize many any of the songs. Coolnees fail.

Okay, I did recognize one. “SOS” by the Jonas Brothers. There is absolutely no need for you to point out to me that this song is like sooo last year – or quite possibly the year before. I know. Coolness fail. I get it. And it was not exactly inspiring – it is a love song – but I am no longer professing my love to Rick Springfield, so these songs dripping with Kool-aid and chanting “I will love you forever – or at least until tomorrow” stopped making me smile right after I gave away my favorite purple socks that were just like Donny Osmond’s.

I did decide, however, that I might as well listen to some of the songs on his ipod. Holy bad words batman. I had no idea that some of the songs on his ipod were so “advanced”. Parenting Fail.

Then I get to his favorite song. Another song I recognize. Maybe I am not as uncool as I once thought. Alas, I had no idea that his favorite song of a.l.l. t.i.m.e. has the eff word and the sh word bleeped out. And a couple others that are not. Yea, big fat parenting fail.

Well, at least I accomplished something. I walked.

Now for breakfast. Did I tell you that I found all the ingredients I need in India to make to teach Laxmi how to make a 7-layer mexican dip? Guess what is in my fridge? I cannot imagine why I also remain a lose weight fail. 😉

Here is hoping your day includes something really yummy to eat and a half an hour to walk it off. And if you see a pig with a pancake, please tell him I want my ipod back.

What’s it really like………..

This is the most common question I have been getting since we came back to the U.S.

Describing India in contrast to the U.S. is nearly impossible. It is an amazing place – full of culture, history, and fascinating people. It is also so very different from everything I am used to. Some of those differences weren’t even clear to me until I returned home.

Some of the things that are so very different really have nothing to do with India – but encompass more the differences between living in a house and an apartment. My husband has always wanted to live in a city – rather than the suburbs. That is what we are doing. I don’t care for it. It is hard to be in a 3-bedroom flat when you are very used to a 3-level home with a yard and a drive way and friends all over the place. There were times I frankly felt a little claustrophobic.

Doing homework is hard when you have 3 kids and no where to go. Having friends over is hard when you just don’t have the room to entertain. The kids in India don’t really seem to be outside playing a lot. I am not sure why – but we just don’t see it that often.

Having staff sounds like a great gig if you can get it. But again – if you aren’t used to it – well, it is also a big adjustment. I don’t like explaining everything to other people when I am used to doing it myself. But I like going into the closet and pulling out an ironed shirt that I had nothing to do with getting cleaned – if only they would wash it and iron it somewhere else. Cooking and cleaning might be a little difficult to accomplish somewhere else – but that would be nice too.

We have two people who work in our house. And after some trial and (some very big) error, we have people that are a really good fit for us. But it is still someone in your house – your little house.  I calculated that our staff works for us for almost 80 hours a week. They work hard and they work almost the entire time they are there – really only rarely stopping for tea. So that is 80 hours of work I do not have to do. Yes, I am very thankful for that!

One thing my husband always says is that there are nice people everywhere. That is true. I have met some kind and generous people who I hope I will be friends with for the rest of my life. I have met some people who are more interesting than I will ever be. The expats who live in India are adventurous and smart people. They soak in the world.

I am writing delicately on this one – but parenting is different in India. And on this issue, I am talking mostly about expat parenting because that is what I have been exposed to. Some of the parents I have met depend on their staff a lot. Drivers drive kids to and from parties. Not everyone is that concerned with meeting the parents on the other end. Ayahs (babysitters) supervise play dates. This is all about comfort level and, again, if you are used to it, surely this is easier. But I cannot let go of my parenting long enough to enjoy this benefit of India. I like being the one to take my kids places and I want to meet the parents any where I might be dropping them off. I know this is all about balance and I am a little heavy on the side of caution. But it is who I am and I do not want to let India change that part of me.

And this is not the friends that I have surrounded myself with. I gravitate toward people who think more like me. I roll like that.

The expat children I have met are confident and outgoing. They all seem to find their niche and thrive in their own circles. They are comfortable talking with adults and don’t seem too affected by moving around the world. They are impressive in that regard. They will surely accomplish great things. On the down side, some of them are a little entitled. I mean, really, if you have a driver, a cook, a house cleaner, a gardener, and an ayah – yeah, you might feel a little more than special. But a lot of parents I have met work hard to keep their kids on an even keel.

I have written a lot about shopping. Haggling is fun. Very fun. But I do miss Target and Costco and the grocery store. It is just so convenient in the U.S. But I have gotten some very fun Indian items that I probably would never have found in the U.S. – even at World Market – and I negotiated good prices for them.

The best way I can think to describe  living in India is that it is like living in the U.S. about 30 or 40 years ago.

People do not have answering machines – well, I guess technically they have human answering machines. Everyone has a cell phone but nobody leaves messages. It’s all about texting. I stink at texting so it takes me a really long time to do it. I am usually about half-way thru my message when the person I am calling calls me back. Augh.

I am not used to electricity and water being sporadically available. Although we are really fortunate that we will have not been inconvenienced by the outages.

And I know many Indians are not thrilled with the portrayal of India in Slumdog Millionaire – but honestly – it is a dirty place. Pollution is abundant and it is dusty and in many places, very dirty. You see people working hard to sweep the streets and move the garbage – but there is just so much of it. There are lovely places that are not dirty – in fact, they are meticulously maintained. But there is a hazy sky almost everyday. It’s just not what I am used to.

Delhi is less organized than my little corner of the U.S. And India is less predictable. Which makes everyday interesting. You really, truly never know what you might see.

In some ways I feel we are living in a little bubble of expats. We really spend most of our time on the school campus. Most of our activities are there. We have not met that many Indian families. The Indian people we have met thru number one hubby’s work are delightful and kind. They are generous with their support and thoughtfulness. They certainly have made me more comfortable about living in India.

So – what’s it really like – it’s very different. I miss all my routines and friends  and family and conveniences. I am enjoying my new friends and experiences. It’s a mix – it’s a great adventure that really makes me homesick.

I am it………….

When we were in the U.S., I used to love to sit on the front porch and watch my kids play games in the cul-de-sac. I loved hearing “not it” when the games began. Which was always followed by a game of bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish. No one wants to be “it”. But in the blog world, there is always a lovely game of tag going on. And, now I am “it”. This time was bizarre because I got tagged by a mom in India and by a mom in Ohio. Yes, bizarro. The world is indeed becoming smaller.

Monika from Life of Our Darling Prince tagged me first. Then Naomi from Delhi Bound got me too.

I am supposed to share the 5 things I love best about motherhood. Some days 5 whole things would be hard to dream up. It’s a tough job, the pay stinks, and it can break your heart. But most days, I would say “just 5”. That is simply not enough. I am amazed that I have been so blessed with my family. Truly, truly blessed.

But motherhood is always a balancing act. Here is my attempt to balance just 5.

1. I will never forget the day that Bear was born and how I felt when he was put in my arms. It was a long, exhausting day that ended up in an emergency c-section (which you can read about here) and he had a dislocatable hip. He needed to spend some time with the nurses. I had to wait what seemed like an eternity to even see him. I was very worried that something was wrong. Then I was wheeled away to recovery. I just kept thinking “where is my baby”? Finally, they put him in my arms and he was small and squishy and I was completely overwhelmed. I had not done a lot of babysitting and did not grow up with younger siblings in the house. My first thought was seriously, what the hell was I thinking and what the hell am I supposed to do with him? I was laying flat on the gurney and I could not really see him, I was straining my neck. Holy smokes. Then they got us in our room and I was allowed to sit up a bit and look at him. I was completely blown away by the love I felt for him. Someone I had never met, who had never spoken to me – he had not even smiled yet or gripped my fingers. And, I realized in that moment just how much my parents loved me. It was amazing to feel their love through my own child.

And, yes, I knew that my parents loved me very much. I simply had no idea how much they loved me. The potential of their love surrounded me that night.

2. My children are the reason I was willing to move to India. I lived in Germany in 5th and 6th grade and I know it changed my life. I wanted to give them this experience to learn about the world. I love watching them here. They would rather be in the U.S., but they are taking advantage of this adventure fully. They are trying new things – even some new foods – and they are soaking it all in. I love that they have roots and that they are sprouting wings.

I am amazed at how willing they are to try new things and how they have learned to be proud of themselves even if they do not win. And, yet, they try their best to win. Still, they have learned to appreciate the journey. That is truly a gift. And it one of the things that makes me most proud of them. They know the difference between disappointment and devastation and they simply will not give up.

3. I love hosting sleepovers for my kids and their friends. Usually we have about 20 something kids spend the night. They insist on tacos for dinner and then waffles, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. EVERY TIME. There is never a question on what the menu will be. One time I ordered pizza because I just ran out of time – that did not go over well. The sleepovers are super fun. Even with all the different age groups, they all seem to get along well. We had one last hurrah before we left Virginia and I invited the parents to come in for a happy hour. That is another tradition we will continue. Good times and great memories. If you live in the glen, you better get your calendar out – we have some sleepover making up to do.

4. Of course, when you have kids, you have endless blog material. That is definitely a big fat plus of parenting.

5. And, finally, I love that my children give me the gift of being true to myself. This is hard to do as a parent – especially if you are not following the main stream line of thinking. As your kids get older, the rules get a little more loosey goosey. Partly because they are gaining independence and partly because parents simply run out of steam. Parenting stretches you thin. There is no doubt about that. My parenting philosophy is simple — I would rather say, “oh that was a little silly” than “damn, I should not have done that or let them do that.” I am probably seen as a little over-protective and I am fine with that. My children have taught me that it is not only important to beat to your own drum – but to, in fact, make your own drum. I know this will get harder as we reach the teenager years and I pray for the strength to continue to go with my instincts. They have served me well so far.

6. Did you really think I could only do 5? So sorry. Six – I love it when I hear Mommy quietly whispered. I will never forget when I went from Mommy to Mom. It was a tough day and it came much earlier than I thought it possibly could. But when I hear Mommy spoken softly – I know I am needed in a way that only a Mommy can be needed. (And Mommy whispered softly is not to be confused with “MAAAAWWWWMMMMY” yelled by a child running full speed at you – that is another story altogether.)

So now I am to tag others. I would love to hear from

Lola – she is my favorite blog smart arse – so hers will probably be funny – if she does it – I know you might take a pass sassy! She’s not a big fan of being tagged.

Miss Grace – I enjoy hearing her perspective

Kristen – although she just had a baby so she might be a little busy

Black Hockey Jesus – who says men can’t love being a parent too – I might just be a blip on his radar screen – he has a huge audience – so we’ll see if he has time to do it

Mrs. Smith – she has been looking for blog material – so here is an idea – she has 7 kids – it should be good.

Donna – she is recently separated and on a new adventure as a parent

And of course, anyone else who wants to play along is welcome to do so! There are some people I did not tag because I know they have a lot going on – but if you find the time – you are now officially “it”.

Odd (wo)man out……

I have debated with myself whether or not to honestly share my experiences today. Partly because today was the first day that India has totally overwhelmed me and partly because I do not want to insult my Indian readers. But, it was my day and my experience and my blog, after all. I want to capture the feelings I had – so here goes – no insults intended.

Hubby had to work today. Please remember our flat is little (compared to the living space we are used to). I have 3 children who love to watch t.v. but eventually they actually do get bored by electronics. It is spring break – no school. There is a lot to see in Delhi that we have not yet seen. I needed some blog material.

I also need to remember to be careful what I ask for.

I gave the kids 3 options – the craft museum, the Red Fort, or the zoo. It was unanimous. The zoo.

Our regular driver was not working today – so we had Zaffar. He is a nice man with limited English skills. I asked to go to the zoo. He said, yes ma’am. I showed him the map that had our neighborhood and the zoo on it. Both of them were circled. We want to go from here to there. Yes. Ma’am.

Then he pulls into a gas station. That is fine. Really. I would rather him ask than just drive us around all day. But I can tell he still really is not sure. He asked me for the address. Well, the book does not list the address. There is a map, remember. But not the physical address. So, I called hubby’s assistant. She is so helpful to us. Really, I am very lucky. She explained where we wanted to go.

Ohhhhhh, the zoo? Zarraf just happens to know exactly where that is. Hmmmm. She got back on the phone with me and explained that in India they call it “the zoo”. So he did not know what I meant. Funny thing – in America we call it the “zoo” also. It must be my accent.

Anyzoo, we got there without too much trouble and I took a look around. This is what I saw.

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This picture is not worth a thousand words – because it really does not give the sense of how many people were milling about. There were hundreds of people. There were 3 lines – cubbies to store your bags, tickets, and security.

I saw women in the security line with purses, so we went straight for tickets. I was not sure if you were allowed bags or if the cubbies were just for convenience. I guessed convenience. That line was (ridiculously) long. So we moved on to tickets. There were only men in the ticket line. In the ticket line we get.

Men cut in front of us in line. They cut in line behind us too. I am not a big fan of people cutting in front of me in line. But I quickly decided to let. it. go. The line was crowded. I was (ever so slightly) outnumbered by men. I was manless (for the day). I don’t do the damsel in distress well, but I also do not invite trouble.

The man behind me explained that my children could wait out of the line for me. You know, over there. My kids looked at me and then they looked at him with their best “good luck with that dude” look. Our mom isn’t going to have us wait away from her. Even if it is over there. You’ll just have to deal for a few more minutes.

He was actually very helpful and explained where to get in. But he does not know me. The kids stayed in line with me. They were happy to do that.

So here is the sign that explains ticket prices. Once again we are paying a skin tax. Fine – it’s a whole dollar. We’ll (happily) pay it.

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My dad might laugh that I should have gotten in free – but alas, I am too smart for free admission. (Yes, I miss my dad terribly.) I think it is very nice that India gives its citizens a break on admission prices. America could never do this – it would be a paperwork nightmare. Americans are far too diverse to be able to tell who is from where just by looking. Too bad – I love a discount.

On to security.

Bear was (more than) a little concerned that he might have to go in a separate line. The lines were very long and frankly, I was a little concerned too. Many of our sightseeing adventures have had our family in separate lines – men on one side, women on the other. It is just a matter of logistics – women checking women, men checking men. But I was not going to put Bear in a very long line by himself. Whew. I did not have to.

One of the guards asked if we had any food. I said no.

Well it turns out I did have granola bars. The second security guard spotted them and asked me to take them out. Absolutely no food allowed in the zoo. Even if you promise not to eat it. Water bottles seem to be okay. I think. We did not bring water bottles – so don’t quote me on that. But I highly recommend water bottles. There are several watering holes with free water – but if you are not used to the local water – well, let’s just say there are better souvenirs than montazuma’s revenge.

Oh yes, back to the snacks. Enter language barriers and cultural differences.

We are now holding up the line. This does not make the 100 plus people behind us fans of Americans.

The guard tried to get me to open the granola bars so my children can eat them really fast. Or, I can take them back over to the line of 200 plus people and put them in a cubbie for one rupee. Yes, that is two cents. Well here is my two cents worth. This is where Americans should be embarrassed because we can be (very) wasteful. But seriously, it is just not worth the hassle. My kids don’t happen to be hungry right now. I don’t want to get in the super long line, just to get back in this super long line – just so I don’t have to lose 4 granola bars.

Please just take the granola bars to your family and enjoy them. I will buy more. Can we please just be done here?

Apparently not. Please ma’am, open them and eat them now. Sigh. No thank you. You keep them. Do with them what you will. But ma’am, I might have to throw them away. Yeah, I am good with that. Can we go in now?

Now Angel decided to bring a purse with her also. They did not look inside her purse. But she heard the rule. No food. So, bless her heart, she pulls out a granola bar and gives it to the guard.  Yes, I am proud of her for being honest. But seriously, where are the animals – can we just go now? Do we have to be the main attraction? Then she remembered she actually had two granola bars. You’re killing me sweetie – enough already. Are you sure there isn’t a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe that you want to turn in?

We finally get in the gate. The zoo is lovely – lots of space – plenty of room for all the people who are there. It does not feel as smooshed inside.

Bear gets out the map. Now, this is interesting. Normally the hubby is in charge of navigation. But here is a chance for Bear to direct traffic. I have failed him in all things Boy Scout, so bring it Bear. Get us where we want to go.

He did a great job.

We saw the giraffes and the sloth bear.

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He did a great job, that is, until he took us behind the exhibit for the sloth bear. It was a path. But it was an empty path. No one else was on it. I did say that I was concerned that no one else was there. Well, except for the two men walking out of the woods. (Yeah. That’s what I thought too. Maybe we should not be here.)

So, I am balancing encouraging Bear to navigate our way through the zoo with the fact that my scare-dar is flashing “danger, will roger, danger”. I decided to let him guide us.

Until…

Until the two men approached another man and started to harass him. I told the kids we needed to turn around and go. NOW.

I realized that we were in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. The two men started to slap the other man. There was a woman standing by with her hands cupped over her mouth.

We exited stage left. Immediately.

Angel said, I don’t think I want to go back there.

Don’t worry, Angel. You won’t be. going. back. there.

So I let Bear keep the map. And I fought every instinct I had to just go home. But I don’t want my kids to be afraid of being in India. There is safety in numbers. We’ll just stay with the crowds.

We continued on to see more animals. Lots and lots of people were watching us. I felt it more today than I ever have.

We saw this rhino trying to get out of the enclosure. I could honestly feel his pain.

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We also saw three white tigers. (Yes, you can still count – there are only two in the picture.)

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And if you know how to use your camera, you can get a great picture of the leopards.

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If you don’t know how to use your camera so well, you might get a great picture of the fence, with some cool (very blurry) leopards in the background. Isn’t this the coolest fence you have ever seen?

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Along the way, many people asked to take pictures of my girls. This is not a new thing. It happens at every tourist spot we go to. Usually they walk away disappointed when I say no. But they seem to understand.

Well today was different. A lot of people clicked pictures with cell phones. There was even one woman who seemed to follow us. It was bizarre. She would bump in to me and laugh. I did not join her in laughing. It got old quick.

Bear was still navigating and we were looking for the hippos. Bear looked at the map and looked at the path. It seemed somewhat empty. He said maybe we can see the hippos next time. Lesson learned.

We head on to see the elephants. They are amazing.

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I did not know this….

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As Flower and Angel are looking at the elephants, Bear notices that a man on the bench is taking a picture with his cell phone of my girls. Bear takes his map and blocks the phone. Honestly, I cannot believe he did it. Two things – one, great job Bear – this is exactly why I wanted any girls I had to have a big brother. Two – holy sh*t,  Bear. Be careful here.

Bear and I had a chat about how extremely proud I was that he was observant and protective of his sisters. And how he is to never. do. that. again. Unless they are in danger,we’ll let some things go.

We all agreed it was time to go home. This is what everyone said as we were leaving.

Bear: I guess we won’t come back here.
(I told him we would – at 9am when the zoo opens and it is less crowded and when Dad can come with us.)

Flower: I like the zoo in the U.S. better because you can drink the water there and nobody stares at us.
(Next time we will bring water bottles and when we are home in the U.S. we will visit the zoo. Maybe we’ll wear crazy clothes so we get stared at there too. Maybe not. We’ll just have to see.)

Angel: I like the zoo in the U.S. better. When can we go home.
(Sweetie, we are home – at least for now.)

So all in all, it turned out to be a good day. Bear got a chance to be in charge. I remembered that instincts kick arse. We got to see some cool animals.

But it was also overwhelming. Frankly, it was very overwhelming. I have not really felt that since I have been here. I was disappointed but it was a reality check that we are not in the U.S. and we have to remember that.

But how are you………..

This is how a lot of emails from my friends end – your blog is great – but how are you, really?

That is a tricky question. Most of you know, I would not have picked to move to India. The decision came about quickly and it was a big surprise. I knew from the first moment of hearing the possibility that it would be a great adventure for our family and that we would never regret coming to Delhi. I realized that was true. And then I threw up.

This has been a wonderful career move for number one hubby. He loves his job and he loves having our family close together. I love that too. I am very proud of him and it is amazing to watch him thrive.

There are certainly challenges that I did not expect. India is considered a hardship post by the U.S. government and most private companies. I can agree with that. A big challenge for me – being a terrible creature of habit – is that nothing is really predictable. Just because you found kick arse goldfish crackers and nacho cheese Doritos at the market this week, does not mean anything for next week. Living in India is like investing in the stock market. Past performance is not a measure of future success.

I miss my family and dear friends terribly. I hate being away from them. H.a.t.e. it. Period. This is the biggest challenge for me. And I so miss my little cat Queso.

We have celebrated 4 birthdays here and it was difficult at best not to have my family here with us. Easter and Thanksgiving will not be easy either.

I miss my shower with never-ending hot water and double shower heads. I miss my kick-arse washer and dryer. I miss my double oven. I miss my office filled with paper and embellishments with a window that looks out at trees. I miss Taco Bell and Cheesecake Factory and Chick-Fil-A. I miss soft towels that smell like a spring rain.

But I realize that you can survive without the things that make life more comfortable. It’s the whole niceties v. necessities argument. And you can find new adventures without a dryer and a double oven that make those things seem not as important.

Although the basement where the kids can go when they you need a break is hard to live without.

And I do miss shopping at Target and Costco. I can live without shopping at those stores – I actually like the markets here – they are interesting and fun. But I miss the one stop shopping. And I really miss stores that open at 8am. Nothing here seems to open before 11am.

I miss driving myself. Although, I do not want to drive here – traffic is crazy! But there is freedom in a set of car keys and a drivers license.

I miss living on a cul-de-sac with a yard and trees and flowers. I miss kick ball in the court and a glass of wine on the front porch. I miss the crazy sleepovers we used to host with tacos for dinner and waffles for breakfast.

Connections are harder to make when everyone knows they will be moving at some point. So I guess I miss the sense of permanence.  There is comfort in believing that you will be friends with someone for a long time. I am not pointing fingers at others here at all – this is my issue – I find myself pulling back and being more hesitant to get involved because I know that people will be leaving – including me.

Old habits die hard and I just miss my routines.

However, there are a lot a things that balance out the things I miss.

The school is amazing. I have talked about it before so I won’t bore you with repeating myself. But my children are growing as learners in ways they might not have in the U.S. They are thinking in ways they have never thought before. There is a big emphasis here on creative thinking. I love that! The school also addresses my children as people and as students. In Flower’s conference, the teacher had as one of her goals to participate in the swimming program at the school. He has already gotten to know her very well and is fostering her growth inside the classroom and out. The teachers in the U.S. knew my kids very, very well – but the curriculum is just very different here. And by the way, I miss those U.S. teachers for a lot of reasons – they are fabulous in their own right.

Bear’s Humanities class is a mix of English and Social Studies. They have couches in his classroom and the kids “hang out” to learn. Bear actually asked me to go to the library with him the other day to help him pick out a book to read. After I got up off the floor from falling over – off to the library we went. He checked out two books.  I don’t think he has actually started reading either one of them yet – but, hey, baby steps.

Angel has been given differentiated instruction in math. It appears she has quite the creative problem solving little brain. It is not a surprise really because she plays a little game with herself where she creates an invention and then she talks about it for 45 minutes straight. The ideas truly pour out of her. It is nice to see that embraced at school.

Seeing that the world is not the bubble we knew has been good for all of us. There is so much here that is different and interesting. We are fortunate to be exposed to it.

Although Bear did ask when we could go back to not having anyone cook and clean and just “be” in our house. I had to explain to him that someone was cooking and cleaning and “being” in our house before. She just wasn’t get paid to do it. To which he replied “oh yeah”. I reminded him that “that would be me”.

I miss a quiet house with no one milling about. But I do not miss cooking, cleaning, or the laundry. See how complicated this all becomes?

Poverty has been hard on the eyes and much harder on the heart. I am working on a blog post to further explain and explore that. It should be coming soon. But it has made us all more appreciative of shoes and food and family. I am looking for a place to volunteer so that I can share my time with these children who have so little. But I want to be clear that many of these children have the biggest, most beautiful smiles. They are not miserable just not advantaged.

Number One Hubby has made some changes at his company that will help out some of the poorer people in Delhi. I feel really good about that.

It is dirty here and the pollution is unreal. We spent 5 hours at the pool the other day and got no suntan whatsoever. That might be good in the prevention of skin cancer – but I am worried about the lung cancer. But we got to spend 5 hours at the pool in the middle of March. That rocks.

I am not a super adventurous eater – so this has not been so much a culinary experience for me. But there are opportunities. And they serve beets here. I might be the only one in Virginia who actually eats beets – but I am in good company here! Yummy. And yesterday I tried red potatoes that had been skinned and rolled in sesame seeds. Holy potato, batman, they were fabulous!

We have seen Jaipur and we have seen the Taj Mahal. Both were amazing. And it makes me resolve to show my children more of the United States. They have not seen the Grand Canyon or Yosemite or Mount Rushmore and a lot of other things. I hope to correct that.

We are also hoping to visit Thailand and Egypt and China. I never imagined in my wildest dreams we would even talk about doing any of that.

We are spending more time as a family. We eat dinner together every night. The practices at the school are all over by 6pm and they are all at the school. So there is no hustling from field to field. There are no drive-thru dinners. Yeah, that is a blessing and a curse.  We are certainly eating healthier meals. But remember, I miss me some Taco Bell.

I am loving this blog adventure and am thrilled to be writing again. It has been so long since I put my thoughts down and it is a treat to write almost every day. I continue to be absolutely amazed that so many people are following along. And I am confident that we will not lose the details that are making this journey so enjoyable.

As you might recall, we also started yoga. We used to tease my dear sweet neighbor who loves yoga – but now we are eating our yoga mats. We enjoy it – especially now that we know our instructor has a sense of humor. He doesn’t mind us teasing each other during our sessions. Sometimes he even chuckles along.

So anyway, the long story short is that I am enjoying much of our adventure. There are pockets of time when I am a little down. But most of the time, I have my seat belt on and I am ready to go. And yes, seat belts are a very good idea in India.

PaRT B……………………

Don’t worry – if you are just reading this blog for the first time, there is no Part A. Just Part B. You didn’t miss a thing – I know, big heavy sigh of relief. Whew.

My children will do what I ask them (okay usually). I try really hard not to brag about my kids in this blog – because I know it’s annoying, but they are part of my every day, so you get to hear about them – a lot – I know, a  lot. They are smart kids – at least smart enough to do chores. But, for some very unclear reason,  they never take their chores to Part B.

Part A: Empty the trash.
Part B: Replace the trash bags.

Part A: Take the trash to the curb.
Part B: And the recycling (but only on Tuesdays).
Part B of Part B: after the trashmen empty the trash containers – take them back to the side of the house – and push them all the way up against the wall.

Part A: Empty the dishwasher – including the silverware.
Part B: Fill it up (with all those dirty dishes right beside you in the sink).

Part A: Help bring in the groceries.
Part B: No – not eat them – but help put them away.

Part A: Stop yelling, fighting, and screaming at your brother/sister. If you are frustrated ask me for help. I was on the debate team – I can intervene. Plus I have parent power that actually works. Okay, usually.
Part B: This does not mean standing at the furthest corner of the house from wherever I am and screaming for my help at the top of your lungs. This means walking calmly to wherever I am – unless I am on the phone or in the bathroom – then give me a minute – and ask me in person for help without yelling at me. I will understand you better if you talk slowly and calmly from within the same zip code.

Part A: Take these clean clothes (that I have turned right-side out, washed, dried, separated, hung, and folded) to your room.
Part B: Put them away. Neatly. Where they belong. Not in the corner of your closet.

Part A: Clean out the car – don’t worry, the driver’s area is clean – it’s the rest of it that is a disaster – you know, the places where you sit and eat and change clothes and have trash fights.
Part B: Dump the trash in the trash can, put the coats/shoes in the (appropriate closet), and put the rest of the c-r-a-p away in the appropriate c-r-a-p repository – and, yes, sometimes that is the trash can. Leaving it all on the floor right by the garage door does not a complete cleaning make – it just gives your aging mother one more place to trip and break her hip. And, trust, me that would take chores to a whole new level of annoying – you don’t want that to happen.

Part A: Start your homework.
Part B: Finish it. Yes, all of it.

Anyway, they may never learn the art of Part B – I guess that is what I am here for. At least they know this one…

Part A: I love you
Part B: That’s it – no strings attached. Always. No matter what. No. Part. B.