Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's all about dirt

Once again, William has come to a turning point with his paci. Funny how he has twice managed to do this -- bite through his supposed "last paci" the day before we go on a trip (last time it was the night before we left on the fated Orissa trip, and now tomorrow we're leaving for Bangalore & Mysore). We tried to encourage him to leave it outside his room for the Paci Fairy to come ... but he wasn't having much of that idea.

Then I spotted his shovel and had an idea -- why didn't he dig a hole for his paci in the garden? He thought that sounded pretty fun, so we went out and planted the dead paci. He seemed pretty happy with that plan, and it had the added benefit that 30 minutes later, when we were reading stories and he asked for his paci again, I could truthfully say it was full of dirt and unable to be cleaned.

It was a bit of a long bed time routine, because of lack of paci. I had to tell many stories about a boy named Mailliw and his best friend Ayam (I couldn't figure out how Itahdnura would be pronounced, but now that I'm looking at it, I think I can add a new character) who live in the country of Aidni and take all kinds of adventures, which usually involve some swimming and some digging in the sand. Amazingly, we haven't had any tears - yet! We'll see how the night goes.

Oh - and I better find some of those presents we hid for when he does something very good! (assuming he makes it through the night without stealing Patch's paci)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two times in one day!

Poor Patrick. He has to say good bye two times in one day. Each morning, he starts to get upset as I get together my bag, put my shoes on and pick up my tea flask. Sarwari used to bring him to the door to wave bye bye, but these days he gets so sad its better for her to distract him as we slip out. When I get home from work at first he's o happy, but then he sees Sarwari pick up her purse and put her black shawl over her shoulders (she doesn't wear burqua or headscarf, but says she still thinks she should wear something), and he starts crying again. It's tough when you have to say good bye both morning and evening!

Speaking of Patch, I'll be interested to see what happens with him when we're in the US and he hears English exclusively all day long. At this age, William definitely communicated with words (even if they were only inteligible to me, Greg and Dr Aunt Beth). Patrick gestures, can shake his head no, and claps when he's finished eating ("All Done!"), so he obviously understands ... but no words. Speach delay is pretty normal for kids who hear two languages (Hindi and English, in his case) - so when the Hindi completely disappears from his life, I'm curious how quickly he'll start talking. Or, who knows, maybe he'll be one of those kids who doesn't say a word, and then suddenly at two speaks in perfectly gramatically correct sentences.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just before we leave

Greg's been trying to get William to learn some Hindi. It's harder than you would think, because Sarwari is very proud that she has taught herself English. Which means she doesn't really want to speak Hindi with William, despite our encouragements.

Tonight, I was playing with William (who, amazingly, said he wanted to play instead of watch Thomas. I was happy for the interaction, but slightly missing my usual 30 minutes of email time) and we were lining up his cars and trucks for various purposes such as going through gates, checking the signals, parking, etc.

Out of no where, he busted out some Hindi. I have no idea what he said. Our conversation followed as thus:
Pam: "William, I only speak Telugu, remember? No Hindi."
William: "But Mama, the drivers are speaking to each other."
Pam: "What did they say?"
William: "They only speak Hindi. You can't understand."

So, who knows what he was actually saying in Hindi ... I certainly don't. He has, apparently, picked up enough to make pretend driver conversation. Not to mention the cultural context of drivers speaking to each other without any need for me to understand.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Traveling with kids

As I'm packing for a weekend trip, I realized we're starting - slowly - to move into the easier part of traveling with children. It's all a function of feeding and sleeping, regardless of age. My ranking on age vs. ease of travel is:

1. 0 - 4 months is the absolutely easiest, if the child is exclusively breastfed. Babies this small sleep anywhere at any time. They're completely clueless to where you are - and really don't care as long as you can take 20 minutes to sit and feed them or hug them close in a baby carrier for sleeping.

2. 2.5+ years comes next. For us, at least, after William was this big, his naps became very predictable. Food isn't an issue (assuming no allergies!) as the kid can eat all table food. So, just make sure to be at the hotel from 1 - 3:30, and all is good to go.

3. 1 - 2.5 years. Food is mostly not a problem (baby has graduated to table food and milk and juice). Nap time can be tricky because sometimes the toddlers like two naps (terrible for sightseeing!) and sometimes one - and sometimes none and they're cranky all day. But, if you're able to navigate the nap time issues, because the toddler is usually walking, it's easy for him to burn off that endless child-energy.

4. 4 months - 1 year. This is the absolute hardest time, in my opinion. The baby is wanting to crawl (yes, I know, 4 months is not a normal crawling age ... but this is what I was dealt with both boys), but floors when traveling are often less than clean - even if you're not in India. Food can be difficult since you have to pack baby food, figure out where to buy it, or constantly ask if a restaurant can puree things (though I've read of some beach resorts which are starting to stock it!). Plus, the baby is only just being introduced to foods (and traveling is not a time you want to discover a food allergy), so food options are limited.

The good news is, Patrick is out of Phase 4. We did pack some rice cereal, remaining baby food tubs, and a little formula - but mostly for comfort than necessity. He's walking (and looks so cute in William's old Crocs!), so our concerns about cleanliness are lessening. He's usually at one nap, and unlike William goes to sleep easily, so Phase 3 should be simpler with him than William.

I'm not 100% sure yet ... but it seems to me after eight years old traveling with the boys will seem like a piece of cake. At least, that's how old Beth was when I moved to Japan -- and I remember the two of us being pretty self sufficient on the planes. Hopefully William and Patch will take after us!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

That Crazy American Mother

I have a reputation. I am "that crazy American mother." My reputation in our apartment block was sealed tonight when the daughter of my underneath neighbor came up to visit. I invited her in, but she was scared of Bagwelle so we had to stand on the porch and chat.

After the necessary pleasantries, she confessed why she came to visit: her 3.5 month old son wasn't drinking a bottle and she was feeling like she was under house arrest (her mother in law didn't like her nursing in public). Her mother in law and her mother had run out of suggestions of how to encourage the baby to take a bottle so she could get out a bit (and regain her sanity). Then, her mother had a good idea: why don't you go upstairs and talk to that crazy American mother? Maybe she'll have some crazy American ideas that will work!

My reputation has been growing the two years we've been living here. First, I hardly gained any weight (by local standards) during pregnancy. I kept on working up until the day before Patrick was born. I ran around and played with William in the courtyard while pregnant! I even drove the car myself while (a) I was pregnant and (b) Greg was out of town. Can you imagine?

Then the craziness didn't stop after Patrick was born. I took Patrick downstairs when he was only two weeks old. I started my yoga practice again only two months after giving birth. I went back to work when Patrick was only three months old, and left him with Sarwari - not with my mother or mother in law! I went to Uzbekistan when Patrick was only 10 months, leaving Greg alone with two boys - the horrors! I took away Patrick's bottles at his one year birthday. Though Sarwari feeds Patrick some baby food, I also encourage him to eat pasta and bread and Cherrios by himself. What sort of cruel mother makes her baby self-feed?

And let's not even get started on what crazy ideas this American mother has when it comes to William. No biscuits or chocolates until after 5PM. He has to come home when I say it's time, even if it means I pick him up kicking and screaming. I let him walk the dog. I let him talk to the security guards and watch the cricket games the "tent people" play in the street. The list could go on.

Tonight when our neighbor came up for some of my crazy advice, she also became party to our biggest secret - Greg actually helps out with the kids! She saw him feeding Patrick his dinner after she finally found enough courage to come in (or perhaps curiosity to see our crazy American house). Greg reads bedtime stories to the boys and plays with them - and then picks up their toys. Not only is there a crazy American mother, but there's a crazy American father living upstairs - and, to top it off, she found out tonight we had a love marriage! Good thing I didn't tell her that Greg had to change all of Patrick's diapers the three weeks my arm was in a cast. That might just have been too much.

Despite these mind boggling ideas, I think I dispensed some sound advice to this poor new mother. I sympathized that her Indian moires would not allow her to nurse in public (though I told her I still did in HYD - but I'm a crazy American, after all). I gave her three of Patrick's old bottles with different nipples, and told her that some babies are sensitive to different types. I suggested she go to two different baby stores which sell import formula and get small samples - maybe her son doesn't like the taste of the Nestle formula here.

After she left, Greg and I wondered - what will our apartment complex do after we leave? Who will they turn to when the suggestions of both the mother and mother in law don't work? I suppose there's always the internet...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Return of the War Zone

We wrote about it last year ... and again I must reiterate that Deepawali (Diwali in the north) is my least favorite of the Indian holidays. My dislike has nothing at all to do with the background behind the religious celebration and everything to do with noise and trash.

I hate to be a killjoy ... BUT ... the extra loud firecrackers which drive poor Bagwelle under the sofa, keep William from going to bed (not to mention hurt my ears if I'm outside too close), and leave debris all over the street in front of my building do absolutely nothing to endear the celebration to me. It starts building up and up to the final day - this Friday - when I'll once again get a sense of what it must sound like in a war zone.

Two insightful comments I heard in connection with Deepawali today:

1. From my yoga teacher: "I hope it starts raining at about 10PM on Friday. That way everyone can still have their fun and we can all go to sleep in peace."

2. From my coworker: "Whose bright idea was it to have Obama visit a city which has had two major bomb attacks in the recent past [Mumbai] on a night when everyone and his brother will be setting off firecrackers that sound like bombs?"

Moving logistics started

We don't know when we're moving yet, but we do at least know that it will be cold when we're in the US. Given that it will be in the 70s in HYD, and about the same in Manila (if not warmer), this poses some interesting logistical issues for us.

Actually, for me and Greg, the logistics are pretty straight forward. We get to take two suitcases each as checked bags. So, one suitcase with our tropical clothes (both work and casual) and one suitcase with our winter clothes (again, for work and casual). For Patch, it won't be too difficult either because he'll be just about the size William was just before we moved to India. Patch is a bit bigger ... so we'll have to stuff his leg rolls into the pants, but for two months he can make do.

William's clothing situation, however, poses the biggest logistical obstacle. We have no winter clothes in 3T size. Nor do I really care to purchase a wardrobe for two months. What to do? Here's where I'm super thankful for family - and specifically for a cousin who has a son about a year older than William! 3T and 4T fleece? No problem. 12 long sleeve shorts and pants? Again, not an issue. A box has been packed up and will be delivered to my older sister's house in MD over Thanksgiving. Even shipping isn't a problem!

Once again, I feel like I'm at the end of a Sesame Street episode: "this program was brought to you by the letter F." Meaning, this job really wouldn't be possible if we didn't have the support of our family and friends back home. Or, it would be possible, but it certainly would be much more difficult without them (you!).