Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Soup



It doesn't exactly feel like fall here...though we are moving into the cool season. (Which apparently means it's below 95 in the daytime:)

In tribute to the season, last night I made pumpkin soup for dinner. I must be feeling more in my element in the kitchen again because I opted not to use a recipe. Just read a few tips online beforehand and brought in a helper for the messy part:)



After a little boiling, a little smashing, a little garlic and onion, and a lot more time than back in the days of that delightful canned pumpkin....



...... fall soup just in time for Reformation Day:) Don't be fooled by the touch of sour cream. It's curd. Yep. No sour cream....just curd. A fair substitute in a pinch:)



Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times. - Martin Luther

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Frogger

This is how we cross the street:



Please note that hubs and baby are standing on the center median while waiting to cross another lane of traffic. This is a mild scenario.

I admit that sometimes I break into a wild and panicked run across the street...while the South Asians calmly take their time beside me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Fort



We took the day off from setting up house to celebrate David's birthday with a little touring of our new city. One of the historical places we've long wanted to visit is an old 16th century fort just beyond the city. It was well worth our time and gave us some spectacular views from the stronghold at the top.




After getting the brief introduction, we decided that trying to decipher local English was going to be more work than we were up to so we spent a few hours meandering around the grounds, relying on Lonely Planet to give us the high points of the history.




Of course, I had my camera handy to capture a few photos against those beautiful ancient walls.



I feel hopeful that today was my last big shopping trip for household goods. As we delve into language learning next week, there should be plenty more exploration to report in months to come!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hubs!


Today we are celebrating David's 31st birthday. His gift was imported all the way from America: the amazing 25th Anniversary concert dvd of Les Miserables. (If you haven't seen it, you should.) There was even a successful birthday breakfast of french toast, enjoyed by both the boys:)



Favorite moment? When our driver, whose been toting us around the city for a week and a half to get the house set up, presented David with this cake:



The icing is a bit like cool whip, but it was much tastier and sweeter than any baked good we've received so far. The sentiment from a new found friend meant the most. The fact that the cake reads Happy Birthday, David Sir is hilarious to us. From young to old, we're always addressed as sir and madam here. It's the influence of those Brits:)

Happy Birthday, dear Hubs. We love you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bombs Away

Just to give you a taste of our first holiday evening in our new city of 9 million...here's a video or two from the roof of our building. They started shooting fireworks about 2 hours ago and it should last until at least midnight. It really sounds like we're in a war zone. We're not even downtown.

video

We started to go down to the skating rink...the designated "cracker" zone for our complex. But when we got in the elevator, we met another family in our building. The father showed us his charred shirt front. He said they were leaving because it was too crazy out there. He was almost a stray cracker victim. When a South Asian says it's too crazy, better stay inside:)


video


We opted for the roof top...and even there only lasted a few minutes. Jude is still dazed and afraid.

A Merry Diwali


Today is climax of Diwali, a huge Hindu celebration inviting wealth, prosperity and happiness. We've been out shopping for household goods this week and the stores have been full of Diwali sales. So far, in addition to our purchases, we've acquired a rice cooker, 1500 R vouchers, a gold coin and a tea set. It's been comparable to Christmas Eve shopping all week long. Their houses are even decorated with lights!



Today they'll be celebrating with family, eating festive foods (the picture above is a box of "sweets" given to us by a new friend), performing pujas (worship ceremony to their gods), and waiting for what appears to be the main event...



...crackers. They celebrate Diwali with an insane amount of fireworks...which they refer to as "crackers." Last night we went down to observe. Not too much light from their crackers, but a lot of noise. It sounded like we were in a war zone half the night. Even now, I'm listening to periodic blasting that reminds me more of dynamite than fireworks. Apparently this is all the warm up. Tonight's the real show!

These people know how to celebrate.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Incompetent Chef


One of the hardest adjustments for me thus far?

Cooking.

I wouldn't call myself a master chef, but it's been a while since I've felt incompetent when it comes to basic meal preparation. When I think about cooking dinner, a huge blank comes to mind and I sit listlessly on the sofa.

I bought a package of pre-made Idly batter at the local grocery this weekend. I wasn't really sure what Idly might be, but it seemed like a simple enough thing to prepare based on the package. As it turns out, I was supposed to have an Idly cooker...and when I googled the ingredients? Fermented rice and beans ground into a batter.

Don't be fooled by the golden pancake above. It tasted like cooked fermentation.


I felt I needed a boost of confidence, so I cooked up some no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. A never failing success. I got such rave reviews from my boys, I'm considering making a batch every day just to give me hope.


Thankfully, the fruit here is amazing...and cheap. As it turns out, of all things, Jude is really into pomegranate these days:) Who'd have guessed?

I'm not sure you'll be getting many recipes out of me in the months to come. But I can almost guarantee a few good stories from the kitchen!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pinchable

I was fairly warned that locals are known to pinch wee ones. But it still caught me off guard when we were in a shop and a complete stranger leaned down to kiss Jude and give his cheeks a good pinching.

Our most extreme example so far happened earlier in the week.

David and I were feeling adventurous. We popped Jude into the backpack carrier and headed out in the crazy local transportation called a 7-in-1. It's a mini-van that usually holds a few more than 7 in 1. A step down from a rickshaw, a ride all the way down the street outside our complex is a steep 20cents per person.

The way to get out of a 7-in-1 is to make some sort of grunting sound that we haven't mastered...or to yell "stop." It can be hard to gauge just where you are from inside the minivan. We were looking for some cheap wooden stools that they sell on the side of the road. We miscalculated.

As soon as we stepped out and the van drove off, we realized that we were right in front of a shanty town of tarp houses. Westerners aren't exactly frequents there, so the moment we were spotted a rush of little faces came charging toward us. They wanted to shake our hand. They wanted to say hello. They wanted to follow us. But most of all....they wanted to pinch Jude.

And pinch him they did. None of our pleas could prevent a thorough pinching of the little man, who held on for dear life in a dazed & confused stupor. Finally, when we were getting desperate, a local yelled something at them and they backed away from Jude at least.

Whew. Let's just say we all slept well that night.

Poor kid. With cheeks like his, he's got a lot comin' to him.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

color me coral


When I think about things that I want my boys to remember about their childhood, one thing that comes to mind is color. I want it to be a time when things were bright and interesting. I think that one of the reasons I enjoy art, nature and just beauty in general as an adult is because, as a child, my mother surrounded us with beauty. It's a gift I want to pass along.

These thoughts (and a few too many issues of Better Homes & Gardens:) have been fueling my color choices for our new apartment. (yes, I have the sweetest hubs in the world...he's painting away) I'm trying to be bolder and braver than I usually am.

The worst that can happen is a really tacky house, right?

Every time I see a coral wall in a magazine, I love it. But I've never dreamed of actually doing it to my own house. Until South Asia, the land of bright colors. If our front dining room isn't anything else, it's going to be bright!

While David labors away, Jude and I are working on unpacking those big suitcases....without much apparent progress:)



Can't wait to show you the end result!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Boy Mom

I've been wondering lately if I'm cut out to be a boy-mom after all. With a second little man on the way, my sights are set on at least a few more years of muddy hands, wild climbers, and boundless energies. I felt that I was making progress with Jude. I was starting to relinquish an unrealistic expectation of cleanliness and let him roll around more in the mud. David continually assures me that it's good for him. I was learning when and where to burn off some of that energy in a healthy way.



Enter our move to South Asia.

An innocent splash in a puddle here that once was fun, now evokes a level of horror in me that I can't express. Where is that water coming from and what exactly is in it? Doubtful that the origin is a sprinkler hose watering a lawn.

I admit that I used to let Jude eat most food that had fallen to the ground. Shudder if you will, I convinced myself that, for the most part, it just builds immunity. But here, when he finds that leftover cookie soaking up dirt and pops it into his mouth before I can grab it, I feel like a failure as a mother. I'm sure he'll have worms or some terrible tropical illness by next week.

Dirt aside, let's talk about energy. When he's awake, he moves. That's that. Sure, we sit to read stories or listen to music or play with cars, but for the most part...constant motion. If there's a rail, he climbs it. If there's a chair, he mounts it. If there's a trail, he blazes down it.

At 4 months pregnant, in the midst of a move, barely over jet lag, with plenty of smells to exasperate nausea, I confess....I'm having a hard time keeping up. It's been the source of more than one discussion in our house this week. David, of course, is stepping in like super-dad and running the little man whenever he can. But I feel like I'm just coming out of a haze.

I dug through our luggage earlier this week to find that tiny book I just can't recommend to young moms enough: Loving the Little Years. And, as always, I found encouragement for my heart. I've taken comfort this week in a hilariously quirky metaphor about smoke detectors and her cleaning instincts with 5 young kids around. Pardon the long quote:

"We have fire alarms, and we keep them around to awaken us if there is a fire in the middle of the night, and we need to run out of the house only grabbing our children. That is what my cleaning instincts are like - they are in place to keep the house from going up in dust-bunny flames. But here is the problem: sometimes it was not the house burning down so much as it was just a burnt peice of toast. And we all know from experience that fire alarms are not to be trusted for perspective in these situations. Neither are your instincts. There are times when the only thing to do is remove the batteries. Turn it off. Stop panicking about the long-term effects of yucky fridge shelves. Let it go for a minute. Open the door and wave a cookie sheet around or something." - R. Jankovic

My world is going to see a lot more crumbs, climbed chairs and runaway toddlers. I'm not failing as a mother. This is a season for me to embrace and grow through. God gave Jude to me to mother....dirt and all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Amenities


A few of you have asked for more specifics on the new apartment...so here are a few details you may or may not want to know:)

My original post about the two options we'd narrowed it down to did not include this complex. It wasn't even on our radar at that time. It's a bit further into the city than we originally intended to be. But, it's basically self-sustaining so we don't have to fight traffic a lot for basics. The pic above gives an idea of what it looks like...only a lot more buildings. There's a restaurant and small grocery just a few buildings away from us. With over 2000 units on site, it's little wonder. These are high rise buildings but we're only on the 3rd level. Perfect for a breeze and still low to the ground!

All the basic amenities of a large complex are here: a pool, gym, concrete skate rink, badminton court, playground....and a hindu temple. Jude's favorite is undoubtedly the play area.



The hilarious and wonderful surprise? There's a mini-golf course right around the corner. David is a big fan of mini-golf, and he never dreamed he'd get to impart his skills on Jude so soon. It's the little things, right:)



Hope that gives you a better picture of what we're living amidst. More on setting up house later...today we purchased a living room set, fridge, microwave/oven, dishes, and vacuum. We're tired!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Furniture Store



We've heard good things about the craftsmen here in South Asia. So...we're on the brink of being a bit adventurous in our furniture selections. I brought a favorite magazine, cut out pictures, and handed them off to this "store."

I'm still awaiting the quotes: one price for teak, another for bobble(?) wood. The outcome of the bargaining will be one of the determining factors of just how much will be hand made.

I'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sights & Smells

Most of our exploration of the city so far has been via a car window on the way to check out apartments or look at furniture. But, to give you a little taste of what we're seeing and experiencing...here are a few on the move shots of the city:

In light afternoon traffic:



A city street corner:




Construction zone...I've never seen a city with so much construction. There are half finished high rises everywhere!



Yesterday, we met our language teacher for a traditional lunch. The meal was more customary for the northern region than for our city, but nonetheless, it's a good sampling. Let's just say: they like it hot.



More to come!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sentimental Silhouette



I've been intending to post a little craft I made for my mom just before we left the states. Inspired by a necklace I saw in Southern Living, I love the finished product.

How To:
I thought it would be a bit more complex to create, but honestly it took about 20 minutes and less than $5 ( if parts are on sale). I took a silhouette picture of Jude in front of a window, printed it in b & w at a reduced size. The cut out was made a bit easier by some tiny pointed sewing scissors. Hobby Lobby has fabulous glass press pendants in their jewelry department. The paper needs to be pretty thin to get it to press into the frame, so card stock probably wouldn't work. I put the necklace onto a press clasp chain that is also available in the jewelry section.



I think it's a perfect gift for the grandma who has just about everything!

Home Sweet Home

We were beginning to feel weighed down by all of the apartment hunting we've been doing over the last few days. Truth be known, last night around 1:30am when I woke up, I had a little break down. We've been shuffling suitcases for over 3 months now, and I'm tired. With great joy...today we turned a corner.


One of the main selling points? The most beautiful kitchen I've seen in any apartment...in America or otherwise:)



The dining room/den with a balcony overlook. We tested the bars and little Jude can't quite squeeze through...there's also a child bar at the top should he decide to climb overboard:)



Shower doors are a rare and precious commodity here. I think I've only seen one other apartment that actually separated the shower from the rest of the bathroom. Usually, it's just all a wet space.


S Asians have an amazing affection for cabinetry. I've never seen so many cabinets in small spaces. We'll have no need of drawers or chests. Every bedroom has a full wall of cabinets. This set is right there in the main room, ready to meet my every storage need.


The best part? 4 little air-con units adorn this home. For this pregnant gal, that's enough to make me sign a lease on the spot. Of course, the power has to be on to actually use them:)

More on the apartment later. We hope to be moving in within the week.

Giving thanks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rickshaw Rides

Yesterday Jude rode in his first rickshaw. From the expressions on his face, I'd say he feels the same way I do about the insane traffic here...



I'm thinking about doing our Christmas card on a rickshaw hood:)


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Apartment Hunt

It's 3am. Jude is stirring. David is trying to keep him asleep.

I'm wide awake, sitting in the hotel bathroom, eating Pringles, listening to what appears to be a terrible cat fight and reading wonderful emails from home with teary eyes.

I intended to take some pictures today, but I never pulled my camera out of my bag. So...you'll have to content yourselves with words.

The apartment hunt has been a bit crazy. We've found several possibilities...but every building has its drawbacks. We're trying to weigh those out and make a decision soon.

There are two that I am waffling between.

Option one is brand new. beautiful marble floors throughout, huge wood cabinets, a bathroom in every bedroom, a delightful Jude friendly balcony, and a landscaped area underneath. The most amazing aspect? There is disco lighting in the front living room and blue recess lighting in the dining room. South Asians like their bling.

The drawback? It's a brand new building. There is still scaffolding up on the sides, dust in all the hallways and undoubtedly drilling for the better part of the day. That could continue for 6 months to a year.

Option two is not a new building but it's newer. Therefore, its still fresh...but without the construction. They have a great gym, dance classes, a play area with grass, a beautiful, but very cold pool, marble floors (which are apparently about as cheap as concrete here!), a small but nice kitchen. Less square footage but closer into town.

The drawback? We could only visit a friend in an occupied apartment. There isn't an opening until November 15. Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. That means we would be staying with a colleague for a month...with our one year old. That's a pretty big drawback, right? The bright side (for them:) is that they've already planned to go out of town for all but 6 days of that time.

We're going to try to take another look tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Farewells, Flights & Four AM

Farewells: I hate goodbyes. These were some of the worst we've ever had to say...





Flights: If I had to rate our flight experience on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst possible and 10 being near perfection.... I'd give it a 9.5. Besides a brief breakdown somewhere over the Atlantic, (and the breakdown was actually me, not Jude) we had a fantastic flight experience. Jude was a dream toddler, even without the benadryl:)



Four AM: And now it's 4am, we're in a South Asian hotel dancing to Andrew Peterson, playing with Hot Wheels, and eating leftover Domino's from last night. Yep, Domino's. David and I might be content to sleep, but....



So far, so good:) In our first 12 hours we saw 4 possible apartments, ate a traditional lunch complete with nan and kabobs, visited an insanely Western mall, bought our first round of groceries...including boxed milk, I threw up in our colleagues' car (nothing like a good first impression by this pregnant gal), and ate at both KFC and Domino's. Whew. It's been quite a wild day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

On Our Way


Penny found. Bags packed.

South Asia here we come!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

X-rays & Anniversaries

We started our 4th anniversary with a trip to the hospital this morning. David took Jude in to check out the penny.

Looks like we should be finding it any day now.

Normally, they wouldn't have ordered the x-ray so quickly, but when we mentioned that we'd be airborne for 21 hours tomorrow...they decided to take a look. They didn't seem concerned at all based on the penny position:)

Otherwise, we're notarizing last minute documents, weighing those 51lb bags, and enjoying last moments with family.

There isn't a man on the planet I'd rather be adventuring with than my sweet hubs. Happy Anniversary, David!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Penny Pincher


Jude swallowed a penny this morning.

Don't ask why he had a penny. We're that kind of parents.

I called the pediatrician...thinking she'd tell me not to worry about it. She didn't. She warned about vomiting and other adverse symptoms that might require an emergency room trip.

If we don't "find" it by tomorrow, I'm supposed to call back. It's possible little Jude will be going in for an X-ray.

Sometimes, a laid back approach to parenting catches up with you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Little Boys

That's right. Two little boys in our household. This March, Jude should be joined by another little man.

I'm two for two on my mother's intuition:)

Begging


I have a doctors appointment this morning. I know I'm only 16 weeks and they don't usually do that ultra-sound until 20 weeks. But I'll be unashamedly begging that doctor to give me an ultra-sound.

I could be announcing little brother or little sister as soon as tomorrow.

A pregnant woman on her way to South Asia has to evoke some sympathy in a doctor's heart, right?