The Middle.

Bedtimes have turned into a real pain around this joint lately. Like most everything else with parenting, it seems the minute we think we have it under control, the three year old pulls a new trick and we’re back to square one. We’ve done this before-it’s round three here- and we should be, (heck, at least I should be), better versed in the trials and tribulations of getting a preschooler to close her eyes at night.

But here I sit on a Saturday night with a finally passed out three and a half year old beside me. It took us two different beds, a new pillow, a drink of water, two stories and firmly stated “Go. To. Sleep” to get here. When I was just about to lose it, I tried to refocus and hold it together with a big deep breath. That’s what a good mother should do. Take a deep breath. And so I did. But just outside our bedroom door, as I unfurled the exhale, I saw my eight year old’s shadow.

She’s had a tough time lately. On the outside she’s fine, but on the inside I’ve seen her struggling. The pull between wanting to be at home, little and protected by her family versus socializing and spending afternoons and nights away from home is strong. Right now, she wants to be at home. We’ve had the frantic calls from sleepovers, the last minute cancellation of play date plans, and she and her brother have been bunking in the same bed for the last few months. 

So when she heard my exhale as attempted to remain calm, I saw her turn and head back to the other bed. In that moment, I too was stuck between the pull of emotions. I wanted the kids asleep-by nearly 9:30 and after a full day and a half of single parenthood-I felt I deserved a break. And yet, I could tell by the way my older daughter lingered outside the doorway that she needed me. She needed the place beside me in bed and a little extra comfort. It was her turn. 

By the time I strung my thoughts together and quieted the little one down, big sister was fast asleep. I kissed her hoping to see her eyes flutter so I could pull her into bed beside me, but she stayed asleep, curled next to her big brother. 

They are all asleep now. The house is quiet. My exhale didn’t get me anywhere, except for this place in my heart where I am thinking of my middle one. But perhaps that was what was needed mostImage.

 

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

 

 

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We are more than half way through our third year in India. For me, I would say this can be a tumultuous time. I ride the “I love it and I never want to leave/how can I stay another day” roller coaster often. Truthfully, sometimes daily. Part of this is timing-the things I loved about India when I first arrived have now started to lose their glow and we are definitely in “the grind” part of the year at school. Nevertheless, there are wonderful things in front of us on a daily basis-just need to take the time to notice.

Here are a few of my Indian favorites:

Fresh milk. Delivered at our door step. 2 liters 3 times a week. From an expat Swiss cow.

Color. There is color everywhere. Saris. Doors. Plants. Often, it is covered in a thick coat of grime, but the beauty is there.

The Ocean. We used to live two blocks from the Arabian Sea. Now, we’re further away, but almost any decent car ride involves a glimpse of the ocean and 45 minutes on a flight will take you to gorgeous beaches.

Repairing Things. Get a hole in your shirt? Need your favorite shoes resoled? Have a noticeably absent thigh gap that causes your jeans to become threadbare in embarrassing places? Nothing is disposable and everything can be reconstructed. For about a $1.50.

The word “walla” I love that you can add the word walla to almost any other word and suddenly you have the person in charge of something. There’s the Puncture Walla, the Egg Walla, the Book Walla, etc…

Delivery. You can get anything delivered. Cold beer, ice cream, dinner, groceries, and pretty much anything in between can show up on your doorstep.

The Weather. It’s raining or it’s sunny depending on the month. No need to check the weather daily.

The Head Nod. Or waggle. Everyone in our family does it now, unintentionally.

The Snack Man. He’s like the Charles Chips of India. He stops by three times a week offering Indian snacks, eggs, and bread.

The British influence. My children (especially the youngest) tend to refer to the tumble dry, the tap, porridge, people troubling her, disturbing her, and paining her. She may be a bit dramatic, but it is so much easier to listen to in her American-British-Indian accent.

There are so many more wonderful, culturally deeper things about India. But for the day to day? These top my list.

 

 

Seven Quick Takes {Spring Break Hangover Edition}

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Our first week back to work was just as hectic as I expected. Paul’s wrapping up a class, getting ready to start a new one (that involves 3 Saturday sessions), and I am focus on trying not to lose my mind in balancing work, the kids, and marathon training. I am starting a girls’ running club on Friday mornings because things weren’t quite busy enough. But how lucky we are to be so busy. Kids are happy and most of the time (especially after a glass of wine) we’re happy too.

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Just dreaming of last week. A week of leisurely breakfasts, ocean walks, and good reading.

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I’m getting old. Last week I had my hair colored back to my natural dark brown. It had some reddish orange at the ends and a little patch of grey in the front. Also, I can’t see very well any more. By the end of the day I can’t bear to spend time in front of the computer or reading. My eyes hurt and are tired. My appointment with the optometrist is tomorrow and my bet is I’ll have glasses by next weekend.

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3.


It’s getting hot here.
Too hot to play outside for much time, but the pool is the perfect temperature.

 

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4.


I’ve changed my desktop picture to Bainbridge Island. Two and half months to go until we’re in the magical land of ferries, farmers’ markets, and Target.

 

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5.

Noah’s 10th birthday is coming! We’re planning a bowling party and sleepover for a few close friends. Hoping to make some headway on this this weekend.

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6.

Paul and I are headed to Bangkok over the first weekend in May. We have a long weekend and we’re going to leave the kids with Mae for a few days. We’re excited to have a relaxing flight, full length conversations, and time with Brazil friends. The kids will be in good hands (they’re already planning their itinerary while we’re gone) and Paul and I will get a little time together.

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7.

It’s hard to write on a Friday night. I’m tired and content to watch Frozen for the 100th time. Stella is quite obsessed with the movie and really wants a Princess Elsa dress for her birthday. Sounds reasonable. Here’s the going rate for a Princess Elsa dress from Amazon.

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Hoping my mom is feeling like she needs a project before July!

 

Manufactured Distractions

This week was sweet.

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 After what felt like many long months of just passing kids back and forth so we both could catch up on work, we were finally able to spend many days in Goa, as a family, together. I realize what “many long months” is to me is nothing to single moms, military families, and so many others around the world, but since it is my blog, and I get to chose the words as I see fit, I’m going with many long months. It felt that way.

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But last week we made up for it.

We spent the week barefoot, slightly sunburned, freckled, and happy. We met another family of teachers from the American School in Delhi and our kids and their kids spent hours entertaining each other in the waves and at the wading pool. We enjoyed cold Kingfishers and bottomless naan. We played games and devoured books. We braved a 108 degree day at the hippie market in Anjuna. We at dinner in the open night with beach dogs at our feet.

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And then, we flew back.

I did my best to Instagram and Facebook the moments, as if that would allow me to tattoo them on my heart. Hold the memories tight and make them linger in my brain next week when my calendar is dinging, I’m drowning in Google docs, and can’t seem to keep my kids’ schedules straight. Those pictures are there for me when I’m running on empty.  

ImageAs we sat at breakfast one morning I couldn’t help but consider how much of what we do daily is nothing but manufactured distractions. Things that keep us busy to avoid seeing what is right in front of us. Sending that email, answering a text, pinning pictures for a birthday party, among a million other things that are all validly demanding our attention and yet blocking more important things from view. Those forgotten unseen things that vary for all of us, but for me, it’s hanging out with my husband, taking the littlest to the park for an hour, playing a board game with the older two, reading for pleasure, going for a run, and sleeping- just to start the list.

This week reminded me that the manufactured distractions will be there in the morning, but the other things, not so much.

Hold tight.

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7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Spring Break is here

Like a child who can barely make it to the bathroom at the end of a long car ride-but thankfully does-we have arrived at Spring Break. In the teaching world, February and March are the equivalents of the long car ride. Both are never ending and you are not sure you’re actually going to arrive at your destination with much sanity left. I’d imagine most teachers feel this way (minus all my teacher friends in the DC area who enjoyed a record number of snow days this year) and these 10 days off are so, so needed. Yab Yum, here we come!

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Our Spring Break destination- Yab Yum Resort in Goa

— 2 —

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Thursday Evening Tradition

 This week we met friends for a Thursday evening dinner and swim at the Hyatt. It was such a nice way to start winding down the week. In Sao Paulo every Thursday was Pasta Night and the unofficial start of the weekend. I like the idea of having a Thursday night tradition here in Mumbai as well. It’s starting to get quite hot here, so an evening swim is probably the most comfortable way to be outside this time of year.

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— 3 —

Chef Sophie

Sophie’s been cooking up a storm lately. After watching a season of  Junior Master Chef she cannot be stopped. She cooks grilled cheese, pasta, tacos, and this week added hot chocolate from scratch and chocolate peanut butter balls to her repertoire. On Wednesday we had dinner with friends and Sophie spent most of her time rolling out the dough for the pizzas. She’s borrowed this book and cannot get enough of it.

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— 4 —

Kindergarten Readiness

I don’t talk too much about work on the blog, but I read a great article on kindergarten readiness last night and it has really stuck with me. As an EC 4 teacher (the equivalent of pre-k in most US programs) one of the questions I’m most often asked by parents is what skills their child will need to be ready for kindergarten. While this is an understandable question, it really belittles where the child is and what he or she needs right now. A great read for parents and early childhood teachers alike.

A picture of some cute F-F-F-Fairies for Alphabet Dress Up Day in EC 3. 

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— 5 —

Entitle

For any other book lovers out there, my 21st Century mom let me in on a new app called Entitle. You can download e-books for about 5 dollars each using their system. They seem to have most books and it is just like reading on a Kindle app. Pretty good deal for those of us who tend to buy 2-4 books a month electronically.

Another book lover

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— 6 —

Diet Coke

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I’m pretty sure Mother Teresa was talking about her attempts to give up Diet Coke. I’ve been less than successful (2 this week) but I am continuing to try and be strong when 1 pm hits. Sound pathetic to be talking about a carbonated beverage like this, but when your week included 4 days of single parenting and a field trip with 37 4 and 5 year olds, I think it is allowed. I’ll keep doing my best and remain faithful that Diet Coke and I can break up for good.

— 7 —

3 months

In three months we’ll be back on Bainbridge Island. Who knew how much that place would come to mean to us? We’re all ready for some Mariners’ games, ferry rides, Doc’s fish and chips, camping, and outside time. And the really big aisles of cereal in Town and Country. Our tickets are bought (Mumbai-Dubai-Seattle) and we. cannot. wait.

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Holi Holy

This week ran at typical speed, but also brought along two of my favorite days of the year. Holi (which isn’t actually until March 17, but we celebrated on Wednesday) and Ash Wednesday. I can’t say that either of these have been my favorites for long-I had no idea about Holi prior to coming to India, and this is probably the first time I’ve ever recognized the importance of Ash Wednesday-but both have a special place in my heart right now and in the ultimate mash up, they both fell on this past Wednesday.

There is long and involved Indian tale about the meaning of Holi, but as for our family’s interpretation, we keep it quite simple: After winter, the Holi festival signifies the colors of spring emerging. And, of course, that means dousing each other with beautiful colored powders and water! It is a fun day that I think all of the children look forward to each year. This year I played holi with my kids and it was great fun watching them get colorfully soaked. Stella wore a white dress (white showcases the colors of Holi best) and her blond hair became a rainbow in no time at all. It is definitely a family tradition I’d like to keep up once we leave India.

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 On Wednesday evening, after a long shower to rinse my Holi colors off, Noah, Sophie, and I went to St. Peter’s Church in Bandra to celebrate Ash Wednesday. At home we’ve been talking about the meaning of Lent and Noah and Sophie, with some encouragement, were happy to attend our first Catholic church service in India. Having never been to this church, and with my suffering from social anxiety in new situations, we sat at the back during the mass. Mass was done well, with a clarity and brevity that played well with an 8 and 9 year old after a long day of school. We prayed, received our ashes and headed out for a late dinner. We continued talking about different parts of the mass and Noah and Sophie shared some insights into their understanding and interpretation of the mass. In the end, of their own accord, Noah has given up his iTouch for Lent and Sophie her American Girl dolls. As the shallow one of the bunch, I’m trying to kick my Diet Coke habit and it has been embarrassingly hard. Perhaps the week of Holi, Parent Teacher Conferences, and Sports Day was the wrong week to begin all this. By the time 1:00 rolls around I’m seriously dreaming of Diet Coke. It will be trying experience, as it should be. I’ll be honest and say I’ve already slipped up once. As a family, we’ve also set aside a person (or dog) to pray for for each of the next 40 days. Noah and Sophie created the list themselves and Stella followed suit.

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I am doing my best to wake up early, spend time praying, and stay off Facebook first thing in the morning. With another challenging week ahead (Paul’s coaching the HS Boys’ Basketball team in Bangladesh all week) I’m going to need the time to focus and reflect on my responsibilities each morning. Not as fun as reading all the status updates that pour in overnight, but certainly more important.

And a selfie my (biggest) girl requested after church and during dinner. She was proud of her ashes.

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