Thursday, May 31, 2012

raspberries and blackberries

How I love packages (and the friends who mail them:) If you've never tried these little gems.... should.  Anything worth mailing over multiple oceans is worth a taste, right? Dinstuhls and Jelly Belly both put out a good sampling.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the curtain enigma

The thing I find most shocking about culture shock is that it just keeps sneaking up on you.  Eight months into our life here, it still pops around the corner at me and provokes me to stick my tongue out at a local or snatch Jude away from a pinching auntie. It's the kind of beast that will drive you mad over nothing at all.  

Here's my cultural situation o' the week.

Last night we went to the mall. It's a lovely western mall with all sorts of amenities.  Word on the street is, they're opening a movie theater in T-7 days.  We'll see if that street word is accurate:) This deliciously western mall actually has a mothercare room right inside the ladies bathroom.  This was a surprising and wonderful discovery for me. Generally speaking, (and might I add, to my dismay) there's no way to hide away in a bathroom or anywhere else to feed the baby here.  

As a pre-cursor to a Subway sandwich, I husled over to mothercare to feed Silas.  The room has 2 chairs, a sink and is protected from the public eye by a Toy Story shower curtain.  It's relative luxury in these parts.  (Never mind that the a/c doesn't stretch inside....)

I sat down to nurse the hungry and hot baby behind the privacy of a shower curtain. And at least 1x per minute, someone whipped that curtain back to see what was going on in there.  This happens every single time I go in there.  It's like a magnetic pull.  It's as if it isn't humanly possible for those asians to walk past the curtain and not check to see if there is a mother and baby on the other side.  When they find it is a gleaming American, the joy is all the greater.  

Eventually, last night, an 8 year old just pulled the whole curtain aside, after which followed a train of saree clad ladies who stared unashamedly as they paraded past.  We were a side show. 

After 2 months of this experience, I admit the humor is piling up.  There's really nothing wrong with the curiosity.  And to be honest, if a bunch of asian aunties want to smile and stare while I nurse the baby, there's not a lot of harm done.  I don't really care. 

The stress comes from the lack of understanding.  

I want to stop them, each and every one of them, and interview them. What could possibly be going on in their minds? Why the need to whip that curtain aside? What on earth do they hope to find? I don't understand.  I really don't. 

And with that unexplained question looming large before me, I'll probably continue to wave my hand at small children who peer inside and cast annoyed glances at prolonged stare-ers.  Ah, culture shock. How long will you haunt me? 

Who knew that cultural adaptation would encompass so many facets? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To the grandmas...

My apologies for those first few seconds of cauffufle...I didn't want him to get stage fright so I was hiding the camera:)

If that little smile doesn't tell you how much we enjoyed vacation, nothing will.  

Monday, May 28, 2012


The vacation turned seriously stay-cation today when strikes erupted in the region. Rumor has it that shops and roads are closed. We haven't ventured out to verify it:)

It's been a good reason to get creative around here with hot weather friendly fun.

A marble slip and slide on the balcony:

Water balloon bowling:

Fun in the baby pool:

And just in case you're mango lassi wish came true plus a few omelets and pancakes:)

One more morning without a 7am tutoring session! Lovin' the stay-cation.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Five on Friday

We are glad it's Friday. After that piñata party, language classes, and 109temps, the weekend is calling. Here are 5 things from our world this Friday:

1. We are taking a few vacation days next week and couldn't be happier. No language classes. Plenty of mangos. And hopefully, a whole lot of sleep, jogging, play time, and reading.

2. To kick start the stay-cation, we decided to head to a local water park. We were a little skeptical, but I will admit it exceeded my expectations. Jude had fun. Silas slept.

All was well until our journey home.

The train was 45 minutes late, we were 20 minutes early. It was 110. When it finally arrived, it was too crowded to board and we almost didn't make it. After a little shoving, we worked our way in though. The train was slow. Then it stopped. On the tracks. It couldn't go all the way to our house b/c of rail repairs. 2 rickshaws, a train,2 crying children and 3 hours later....we made it home.

3. After an hour on the platform, some locals started taking pictures of me and Silas. It was 110 degrees. Silas was fussing in the carrier. I was a post-waterpark wreck and on the verge of tears. I just feel the need to confess publicly: I stuck my tongue out at them until they stopped photographing me. That wasn't really culturally appropriate but it felt kind of good.

4. I laughed at the asians when I first saw them using umbrellas as a sort of parasol. Now, a few months later:

It really is good sun protection, folks.

5. Are you tired of me talking about mangos? Sorry. The Mango Lassi is a wildly popular drink here. I made one for the first time this week.

A little mango, a little yogurt, a little sugar and ice. I told hubs that my one vacation wish is to wake up to a mango lassi every morning.

I feel hopeful about the next few days. David just left for the fruit stall to pick up a few more mangos:)

Thursday, May 24, 2012


May 2010

May 2011

May 2012

The clock talked loud. - Tillie Olsen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

piñata party

Jude turns 2 tomorrow. Tonight was Jude's neighborhood party. We ordered a spectacular "Mickey Mouse" cake from the local baker:

Invited in the neighbors for a viewing of Jude's birthday video:

Served the samosas and sang the song:

Played with new toys:

And perhaps the most exciting event of the evening? Had a good ole fashioned piñata breaking. I've been paper macheing and painting all week in preparation. (yes, hubs is swinging it on a mop handle.) The asians loved it!

Happy Birthday to Jude!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

a huffy momma

This week Jude turns 2. Wow.

The season is bringing with it a lot of the hilarious, more and more of the sweet and thoughtful, and a whole lot of energy.

Alongside that energy enter some crazy scenarios. Jude, perched atop the sofa, diving for balloons. Attempting to ride a friend's scooter...down a hill. Collapsing on the marble in a dizzy stupor. Repeating my words loudly no less than 5 times, just for practice. Banging his head on a concrete wall (I'm assuming) so he can know what it feels like.

In a span of a few minutes, things can get just plain wild. And in a few short seconds, this momma can get huffy.

You know what I mean, right? Jude is furiously spinning in the kitchen. I am tripping over him trying to make dinner. Spinning has not hitherto been forbidden. It's not a sin, it's just a 2-year-old thing to do. I'm in charge of the kitchen but I don't tell him to stop. I just get all huffy. "Jude, I wish you wouldn't do that." Sigh. Huff. Glance in den for husband to intervene.

Wishing he wouldn't do that and saying it in a huffy way isn't the same as giving him concrete directives. Bend down. Look into those deep eyes. Speak. "It's time to stop spinning. Come with me to your toy box."

Now if the spinning doesn't stop, it's an obedience issue. 2 year old disobedience is more simply (though perhaps not more easily) corrected than unfulfilled wishes and huffy words.

It's not fair to 'suggest' to a little guy who doesn't have the ability to catch innuendos or perceive attitudes rightly. (Let's be honest, most of the time it would be better to take the same approach with my poor husband. He prefers direct communication also:)

But I am a woman. And indirect seems direct. I tangle emotional with concrete. The problem is, the results are usually nothing more than an eruption of huffing and no correction of the problem. So, as 2 rapidly approaches, I have some growing up to do. Less huffing. More loving discipline. I don't want to leave a huffy legacy to this boy of mine.

I'd better grow fast...because, thankfully, I doubt the spinning & jumping will stop any time soon:)

Monday, May 21, 2012


When I was in college, I spent a summer in Spain. It was hot there too. They ate gazpacho a lot. (gazpacho = a delicious tomato soup with garlic and cucumber served chilled.) Since today was another 109-er, I decided to give it a whirl.

It was a hit! Jude spit his out...but thankfully, some of that fab-5-minute artisan bread stuck:)

Friday, May 18, 2012


The high is supposed to be somewhere around 107 today. Since shorts aren't really en vogue, I think it is the perfect season for hubs to try out traditional dress.

He's not convinced.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 Things Thursday

1. Jude has a growing obsession with Mickey Mouse. Grammar and Pop actually mailed him this massive Mickey. He adores it. This is how he emerges from his room these days after a good night of sleep:

Yes. He still sleeps with a pacifier. You can try to tell me about his teeth and all that. It probably won't do any good though. We have bigger fish to fry in these parts right now than pacy-breaking:)

2. Silas is legal. Passport in hand. Our next stop? Thailand for visa work. I can't say we regret that the Embassy just happens to be a few hours from crystal blue water and white sand. Now, if only we can make it another month or so.

Have I ever mentioned that I rarely step foot in any country without a trusty Lonely Planet? We're starting a small collection over here.

3. Silas is officially smiling. Cooing. All that cute baby business at 2 months. And just in case you're wondering if the pictures are out of proportion sometimes, they're not. He's HuGe. Over 15 lbs and growing fast. At this stage, he's well ahead of where Jude was. From chunky babies to chunkier babies:)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

mango surgery

We love mangos. Mango season is all the bliss our neighbors told us it would be. David and I average 1-2 large mangos per day, per person. My main bone to pick with mangos though: in my opinion, there's really no good way to eat them. There's always mango in your teeth, mango on your hands, mango on your face.

Until now.

Recently, a friend introduced us to mango surgery. Apparently, he learned the cutting technique from a surgeon friend of his. Slice through the core. Twist. Separate the halves. Then, surgically remove the remaining mango pit.

The result?

A beautiful, neat & tidy mango bowl.

I hope this revolutionizes your world as much as it has mine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tess of D'Pressionville

I've been slowly working away at my book list for these post-baby days. For weeks I waded through my first Thomas Hardy book, Tess of D'Ubervilles. I started to call her Tess of D'pressionville. Tess lived one sad little life.

I could hardly put it down, but let's be honesty, I didn't really want to pick it up either. I wanted to reach inside the story and stop it. But I couldn't, so I just kept reading.

While I wouldn't say it made me a fan of Hardy, it was so well written that the tale kept digging deeper and deeper into my mind. I had to remind myself a few times that they were on paper. If it's a good sampling of his writing, he's a bit too bleak for my taste but definitely worth the time once in a while.

I'm thinking about making these little men of mine read it at around age 17 when their recklessness could ruin a lady's life.

Thankfully, hubs bought me Excellent Women by Pym just in time to recover from my Hardy bout. I can't say I even recall hearing about her through the years, though I'm sure some English teacher snuck her onto a book list at some point.

By comparison, her work was hysterical.

It was a quick, short read that is well worth your time with one of the best, most entertaining, internal dialogues I've read in a book. I think I enjoyed it so much because a lot of her embarrassing and random thought life runs parallel to my own random processing. It's even funnier on paper than in a mind though.

Speaking of funny. Jude inherited this from a friend who was moving back to the States....

Never a dull moment.

Monday, May 14, 2012

morning sunshine

Yesterday, I woke up to this....

How I love my boys. Motherhood is such a gift.

P.S. If you didn't get a chance to read this thoughtful, timely post on Mother's Day. Take a minute, you'll be glad you did.

Friday, May 11, 2012


It's the fabulous castle of Now.
You can walk in and wander about,
But it's so very thin,
Once you are, then you've been -
And soon as you're in, you're out.

- Shell Silverstein, Falling Up

Thursday, May 10, 2012

dahi delight

I love Dahi. (a.k.a. plain yogurt) My neighbors buy it in bulk. It's taken me a while to warm up to it, but now I'm hooked. From this little carton, I can make sour cream for Mexican night, cream cheese for icing,and a tomato and lemon pepper curd to cut the spiciest of curries. Recently, I discovered that I can add it to a roux and get an incredible enchilada sauce. We're talking spectacular.

And since we're on the subject of substitutes, probably to her dismay, I am now using my dear helper's chapati to make the above mentioned enchiladas. yum.

Who knew I could get so much from something so small:)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

matchy, matchy

Oh, the delight when I opened a little birthday happy to find matching outfits all the way from Kentucky. Of course, it came from this momma of 2 girls (and a very chunky boy) who is a pro at matchy matchy. Thanks, Laurin!

Little brother wasn't quite as excited about the photo shoot as Jude was. Of course, it may have had something to do with Jude's attempts at "lovin."

I'm going to enjoy it while they're little. I somehow doubt brothers allow for matching clothes quite as long as sister.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

fits & failings

This weekend there was some fit-throwing going on in our little house. Jude was tired. Village life was exciting for the little guy. So exciting in fact, that he woke at 4:45 most mornings. After a full day of traveling home, Sunday found us happy to be back but a little more worn and torn than usual.

I'd like to write that the only one throwing fits was the almost-2-year-old, but that wouldn't be an accurate account. I stayed up late when we returned satisfying my nearly compulsive conviction that it is always better to unpack completely immediately upon arriving home. And then, of course, I just had to edit a few photos for the blog, right? After quite a good night's sleep, I woke feeling refreshed but soon found the spin of the washing machine, the baby who was hungry, the toddler who wanted to read, and the bed that needed to be made were all pressing in on me. By 10am I hadn't eaten breakfast. Jude was ready for a second breakfast...and making it known loudly. David was patting a slightly fussy baby.

The spin got a little out of control when the pancakes were about to burn, Jude suddenly pinched his finger in a drawer, and as I slung open the freezer (don't imagine, dear friend, that I did it loudly and forcefully enough to let my frustration at the situation to be made known:), my precious containers of frozen meat went flying to the floor, crashing beef and shattered asian tupperware all over the marble.

At that point, I had a full blown fit. The same kind of fit I'd been talking to my 2 year old about earlier that morning.

There were tears and some unintelligible remarks. I sat down in a heap and started to point my finger. The problem was, it was my sin, not any one else's. And I knew that it would be unjust to view it any other way. I could've asked my sweet hubs 2 hours earlier to watch those boys while I made a pancake. In fact, I'm pretty sure he offered to make me one when I woke up. Tears from a pinched finger are not a sin. And those tupperware were caught off guard when I flung that door open in anger. It was me. I was responsible for the fit, not anyone or anything else in the situation.

Upon that realization, my mind turned toward all of the reasons why I am an unfit wife and mother, why someone else could surely do my job much better than I do it. There were more tears and more unintelligible remarks. I was assuring myself and God that the best route would be to hand it all over to a more capable person. Surely someone else could do a better job, handle all this without falling apart. But I could not then forget the good news.

The failure of my very daily interactions, a beef-tossing, tearful fit of anger, was there to remind me of the gospel. Galatians 5. Those who do not walk by the Spirit...they're known by all sorts of immorality and sin. 'Fits of anger' are in the list. But just after that depressing and convicting list is another list. The fruit of the Spirit. Patience and love. Joy and peace. Faithfulness and self-control. Kindness and gentleness. The gift, the comfort that Christ left to his followers when he ascended to heaven...the Spirit, the is part of my inheritance in Christ. The gospel gives it to me.

And I don't get the inheritance because I am a perfect wife and mom. I'm not. And God knows it. He wrote the story. He knows my part, full of fits and failings. He wrote the other part too. Jesus, full of grace and truth, tempted in every way and yet without sin. God's only Son, our sin to bear. The petty daily sins, the grotesque and heinous sins, and those unseen pride-filled sins. Good news gospel on every page.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.

Monday, May 7, 2012

a peek at our week

1. We had heard that train travel was the way to go. Thankfully, we made it off the wait-list and into the train. Apparently, tunnels are quite unusual here. There were over 20 tunnels through the hills on the 4 hour ride. Thus, every time we entered a new pass all of the passengers would scream like they were on a wild roller coaster. No joke. It didn't take Jude long to join in the fun.

2. Don't feel sorry for us. We hardly slept in a hut (the house was amazing) and the power held out for most of our stay. We love ceiling fans. Putting our family of 4 in a room together for a week was surprisingly smooth. Thankfully, little Silas did his best to stick to the schedule. Do these guys look like brothers or what?

3. The house where we stayed is also a children's home. There were animals galore. African parrots, puppies, geese, and rabbits. Little boy bliss.

4. Have I mentioned yet that it was GreAt to be out of the city? It was. Fresh air and flowers.

5. The longer we're here, the more we love the people. And how could you not with faces like these on your doorstep? I wanted to take this guy home!

That's all for now! We're charging into another Monday now:)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

exceeding expectations

We're back. It's good to be home. The trip definitely exceeded our expectations. More next week. Before I tuck into that cozy bed in my a/c room though, I thought I'd post a few pictures of our village week.

Good to be home. Glad we went. The air was fresher than we expected:)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hitting Pause

When some friends asked us if we'd like to join them for a week in the village, we didn't have to think long before saying "yEs!" (Ok. So maybe I did write one small email about the possibility of rats, infant heat stroke, and other minor details.)

This week, we're trading in 105 temps for hill country coolness. (That could mean 99 degrees...but there is a difference:) We're trading in city smog for fresh fresher air. Rickshaw rides for a little more footwork. And our usual menu for a lot more rice and curry.

We couldn't be happier for the change of scenery.

See you in a few days!