Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Weird Wednesday

1. We're trying to broaden our menu to include some economical and quick local foods. Yesterday I remembered that one summer when I was backpacking in China, they served me a fried egg and rice for breakfast. It was surprisingly good. Today for lunch, we went that route...and I think it will definitely be a repeat.

Try it before you judge, ok?

2. I made the mistake of storing our tp under the sink. A leak was inevitable, right? Jude was glad to get some time to play with this oft-forbidden item during the dry time.

3. We had heard that we would probably be able to buy a tree here...but maybe not until the week before Christmas. To our delight, when we went to the mall this week, we discovered one store with a display of trees already up. We went ahead with the purchase...even though we had to lug it home via rickshaw. Now, Jude and I are working on salt dough ornaments in the evening:)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

greeting the morning

Woke up with a cold this morning. Jude's been teething. David's throat is sore. I opened that tattered 1949 prayer book that I found at a thrift store a few years ago and read these lines by Baillie:

Forbid that when all Thy creatures are greeting the morning with songs and shouts of joy, I alone should wear a dull and sullen face.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday

A few random insights into our little world:

1. I feel like we've crossed some threshold into adulthood. We decided to take the daily paper. This decision was primarily impacted by the $2 (yes, $2) per month investment. For now, we're opting for the English version...but by next year we might be reading in different script. That's pretty hopeful.

2. Speaking of language development, my brain feels fried from listening to vocabulary words repeatedly. It's recommended that we listen to each set of words 32 times before speaking them ourselves. That's a lot. Jude, on the other hand, is already saying a few words in his new mother tongue.

The dada saga continues with the little man. Now he's referring to all drinks as "cold" rather than water. The only explanation? Every time David turns on Jude's bath water, he says "cold."

3. I found a substitute for Izzy. Grappo Fizz doesn't sound quite as classy...but it's almost as tasty!

4. David and Jude are forever discovering new ways to turn household items into fun. Please don't think we're bad parents. Asian vacuums aren't as powerful as American vacuums:)

Friday, November 25, 2011


I think Jude's making progress in adjusting to super-star status. This week we went to visit the old part of our city, and when a photo session erupted, Jude just perched himself on a little bar and posed for the crowd.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Since we're almost a full 12 hours ahead of the home town, we've already baked our Thanksgiving delights and feasted with a few stray Americans in our parts. Jude was the primary chef in our house. (Actually, David made two fabulous rotisserie chickens since turkey was scarce:)

Even in this far off land, we weren't lacking good company....

...or delicious food...

...though it's certainly one of those days when we wish that living here didn't mean oceans between us and that family we're so grateful for in Tennessee. But here or there, our cup is overflowing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Visitors Welcome

The guest room is finally up and running...after the mattress was delivered at 10pm on Friday night:) Just wanted you to know that if you're ever in our neck of the woods, there's a place for you to stay.

The guest room once more doubles as our office. We opted to buy a very handmade wood table off the side of the road to serve as a desk. Cane chairs are very common here and are quite a bit more comfy than I suspected.

The yellow wall is undoubtedly my favorite color choice. I can just never get away from yellow. It's always a good choice for me. One of the delights of life here? Gerbera daisies are a mere 20c a stem. There's a flower seller just a rickshaw ride away who is always well stocked. David even wrote an extra $5 a month into our budget...just for fresh bouquets each week. Sweet hubs.

Come and visit?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Festival Fun

This weekend, we took Jude to the Children's Film Festival at the local craft center. We didn't actually see any films, but there was plenty of excitement for us anyways:)

Jude attracted so much attention from the school children that it was a bit hard to do much besides avoid pinches and pictures:)

They were giving "oxcart" rides...and painted the horns blue to add to the fun:) Though it was tempting, we didn't jump aboard.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hey Daddies

We've noticed a curious development in Jude's verbal development this week. He no longer calls me "momma." Rather, both David and I are referred to as "dada." At first we thought it was a fluke, but after more careful observation, we're discovering that the little man prefers one simple solution for parental pleas. He'll be safely tucked in David's arms, and will stretch our his arms to me crying "dada, dada." He runs through the house looking for me, not David, with "dada" at the top of his lungs.

Alternately, he does the same for David, using the exact same title. Little boys are a mystery.

Hope this is only a phase.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hospital Planning

This week we took a tour of the hospital that I plan to deliver in when little bit arrives this Spring. I confess, I had high hopes. They were too high. My expectations were based on rave reviews of the doctor I selected. I didn't quite prepare myself for the asian-ness of the facilities though. I wasn't impressed.

I admit that my initial view made me re-think my decision to deliver here rather than go to a yet more modern city or fly to Thailand.

But, the reality is, all of my concerns were aesthetic. The hospital is known to have excellent care, my doctor has a great reputation...and if the floors are a dingy green instead of sparkling white, it's ok, right? Would it really be worth it to move the whole family to another city for a month so that I could have sparkling white floors and a delivery room without austere walls?

It wouldn't be.

I'm not sure when this all happened. I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the bush of Africa and have all my babies in a mud walled hospital...and now, dingy green floors make me want to fly to Bangkok. Motherhood and age are changing me:)

Unless something drastic develops with this little one though, I'm sticking to the in-town plan. And I'll close my senses and put on socks when I walk past that shoe cabinet...yes, even in the hospital here, you have to take your shoes off before entering the delivery ward. What could be more sanitary, right? Thankfully, my mother plans to come for the delivery. If there's anyone I can confidently state can appropriately break through any cultural barrier to make sure things are more-than-taken-care-of, it's my mom.

In the meantime, Jude and little bit are already cuddling up together for naps. I love it. In the end, babies are always worth it. Shoeless ward or not:)

Drab to Fab

Mark that project off the list! I'll call it success.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Nail in the tire = Stop at your local repair shop, right?

Not exactly what I imagined...but for $2.00 he did what every tire repair shop in Memphis does for $15.

In the meantime, lately every time I see a picture of Jude, I feel shocked. When did he grow up on me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Big Brother Boot Camp

With little brother on the way, we are trying to make small steps to prepare Jude for life as a big brother. Recently, prolonged rocking at night transitioned into story time and three songs before laying him down in the crib. Let me confess, for all of you mommas out there who can't believe I still rocked that one and a half year old to sleep, I have no regrets. A few nights of tears and he's in a new routine now. I loved, loved, loved holding him as he fell asleep. Perhaps even moreso in the stage when it was the only time I could seem to hold him.

The next step? Sometime early this spring, Jude will be moving into his "big" bed. We purchased bunk beds that could be separated so the railing is just perfect for a toddler bed and it's pretty low to the ground. The elephant quilt I found at a local market is perfect for our all-boy house! We don't want him to think the baby kicked him out of his bed, so...January or February will likely be when we dive into that change.

In the meantime, progress on feeding himself with a a little slow:)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brave Craftery

I'm feeling brave in my crafting these days. A new space means my ideas have been a little bigger than usual. This could mean good things, it could just mean bigger failure:) We'll see.

Bethany J tipped me off to the wonder of where I spotted this amazing project posted by

If I had spotted it before we purchased our couch, I might have tried to re-create. However, it is the inspiration for my latest project.

In the end, most of the prices for the furniture I wanted to have made were beyond the time and money we wanted to spend. I was ready to have the house together and the cost was not significantly lower...though I probably would have ended up with some pieces I adored. We did have a simple bed frame made very inexpensively because I convinced David that I could come up with some kind of headboard on my own.

On a whim during jet lag, I had David paint the bedroom wall pink. It's taken me weeks to decide what I should actually do with the pink. The project? Create a pillow headboard (kind of like the couch) that will tie a few colors into the room. Hopefully, I will finish it up this weekend.

In the meantime, the acquisition of the plywood, fabric, etc has been good practice for language and a good experience with shopping in our local stores. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Farm Fresh

We don't pay extra here for free range eggs. Every thing's free range. We pay even less for fresh meat. When I say fresh...I mean, "wait while I boil the water and go out back for a minute." After a regrettable experience with "fresh" chicken in Africa, I was a vegetarian for 6 months. Once I did recover my carnivorous appetite, I never quite looked at meat the same way. So, when David had an itch for local meat instead of the frozen package at the Western grocery, I told him to go for it.

With these restrictions:

1. No raw meat smells in my presence.
2. A full bleaching of the kitchen after preparation.
3. No details about the acquisition or preparation of the meat.

Thus, my first glimpse of the meal was at this stage:

Ever since the purchase of our microwave/convection oven/rotisserie cooker, David's been dying to put something on the rotisserie. It was like a dream come true for him:) Note: ovens are rare and expensive commodities here. Most people just use the stove top for everyday cooking. If you've ever tasted an Asian baked good, you'll believe me:)

The end result...all prepared by hubs himself, was a remarkable success.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Faux Pas

I took Jude down to the little grocery here at our apartment complex today. The workers there are always so friendly and helpful. We go there a lot.

At 5 months pregnant, Jude can be a bit more than I can manage with a bag of I had him strapped in the stroller. Just as I finished checking out, a young worker came over and started to unstrap him and take him out. This is not uncommon. Strangers are frequently picking him up, taking him around, hugging him, kissing him, etc, etc. I think it's weird, but it's not to I usually don't interfere.

But I was in a hurry to get back and I didn't really want to deal with a fit when he was eventually put back into the stroller, so I said simply, " Oh, sorry. We're just going now. Please don't take him out."

At which point the guard and all workers standing around looked a little startled. The boy looked like I had just slapped him in the face as he walked away. On the way out we tried to wave goodbye to him and he wouldn't even look my way. It was awful. Awful.

Our language teacher came as I arrived home (the reason I was in a hurry) and I told her the scenario and asked her if I had done something culturally offensive. She said he was probably very embarrassed and would have been offended by my direct words. it was like I was commanding him. (which of course, in the US is not a problem if someone is about to take your child, right?:) I should have just said that Jude would start crying and not directly told him not to take him out. Too direct.

So now, I've offended the entire Vijetha produce department and cashier section.

I'm in distress over the whole situation. This afternoon we may go down to apologize...but of course, we don't really speak the language so that probably won't go too smoothly.

As it is, I don't particularly want to go to the Vijetha ever again.

I think that is a sign of culture shock:)

Friday, November 11, 2011

To Aunt Lindsey

With no aunt nearby to give Jude a haircut, we resorted to a local barber. It was a little more traumatic for Jude, a little more embarrassing for us. Let's just say that by the end of the cut...there were tears and hairs everywhere. It took all 4 barbers in the little salon to man him at some points. And we left with the top partially uncut. I'd say it's progress from our last attempt. I have to admit, if they'd been holding me down, I would have been a little afraid too.

Overall, for $1.20, I'd say we got our money's worth out of the deal. A little ice cream after smoothed it all over for everyone.

But, of course, we'd rather have gone to Aunt Lindsey.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Space Cadet

....sometimes I wonder why we even bother to buy toys.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Re-Learning Hello

David and I are beginning a program to learn the local dialect in our region. There are a number of reasons why this is immensely important to us. In the city, English is widely spoken as a second language by most. However, in the villages, the mother tongue of this area is a language unlike any to which we've yet been exposed. Eventually, we hope our business will open doors for us to go into more remote places and provide a means for some of the poorest to earn additional income.

In the meantime....we are spending a lot of time with our language teacher, a devout Hindu and native to this region:

The program we're following is very interactive and provided us with a huge collection of household and daily objects to help us learn a bit more experientially:) We spend a lot of time holding toys and asking "what is it?" Jude, of course, loves it. As you can see from the pic above, by the end of class, our living room looks like we had a wild play group.

To evoke a little sympathy from you, here's a sample of the lettering:

We have a long way to go!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


One thing I didn't quite expect here? The repeated public photo sessions of Jude. He's like a rock star. At least once a day, someone asks to take his picture...or just takes it without asking:)

As for Jude, he's a little ambivalent. Maybe he's trying to be cool. In spite of our promptings, unless it's a family photo, he rarely smiles for the average joe photographer these days.

Hope we're not promoting vanity:)

Monday, November 7, 2011

On a Sunday

We attended a Thanksgiving Offering Sunday at a friend's church yesterday in a nearby village. It was quite the cultural experience. I wore local attire, as visitors we received flowered garlands. We arrived at 10:30 and the service lasted until an amazing 2pm, after which we were served a lunch with some of the best chapati I've had so far.

By 3pm, when the choir descended upon Jude for a thorough pinching, it was too much for the little man. I have to hand it to him, those ladies pinched with a fierceness I've yet seen. His cheek was red for at least 30 minutes afterward. They felt a little badly when their act of love produced a few tears....

Possibly my favorite site since landing on continent? Rows of brightly dressed sisters, bowing their heads in prayer together during the service. Out of respect for the passage in 1 Corinthians, when the pastor begins to pray, most cover their heads with their saris. Beautiful.

And on the way home? The Sunday cattle market had Jude's full attention!

What I wish we had video of from the day? We started our morning with a taxi ride to the village, during which time I started to feel queasy. When we got out and started to walk toward the church, David's foot made an unfortunate placement. He tried to get whatever it was off, I walked away hoping not to catch a whiff. I walked the wrong direction and caught a whiff of something much worse. At which point, I started throwing up on the street corner. We were, of course, being watched. Realizing I was sick, South Asians started running out of their homes offering assistance.

It was hysterical. Thankfully, we'll probably never find that street corner again:)