Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Something is starting to click

We've been in the US for about three weeks now, and Patch has been hearing exclusively English for this whole time. After a weekend away, I was playing with him yesterday and today with more attention. I did enjoy the first kid-free weekend in 3.5 years, but I also missed both boys! I'm pretty sure that his language comprehension has drastically increased of late. I'll never know if it's because he's just one month older than when we left HYD, or if it's because of lack of language mixing, but either way, it's exciting to see him learn.

He can now follow simple directions ("put the blocks in the bag") and also gesture for exactly what he wants (water out of my cup, for instance, and not milk in his sippy cup).

He's also started nodding yes when asked a simple question. I find this highly amusing because William started bobbing his head side to side after a mere two weeks in India. It's taken Patrick (at just about the same age) just about the same amount of time to copy a nod. No head bobbling for the Indian-born one, unless his big brother rubs off on him.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

People Watching

Austin is great for many things - and people watching ranks up there. With the temperature drop near freezing over night, we had to find a way for William to expend energy inside. A little web research showed the Children's Museum (www.austinkids.org) might do the job. The boys both had a great time, but I had most fun seeing the other parents and caregivers.

First, you know you're in Austin when the staff at the Children's Museum has strangely colored hair and some extra piercings - but yet all obviously enjoy their jobs and interacting with the pre-school set. I was trying to imagine what this young, alternative group of adults would talk about with their friends at night.

To my surprise, Greg was not the only dad there - on a Tuesday at 10:30AM. I suppose some of the other guys could have been nannies (why not?), but either way, a stay-at-home dad or a make caregiver certainly would have a good sized cohort here.

And then came the moms ... and grandmoms. The first lady who struck up a conversation with me was of an indeterminable age. Her face looked older with heavier wrinkles and thick foundation, but she was wearing skinny jeans and Ugg boots. I was kind of curious, I admit, what it would be like being at 45 year old mom, until she mentioned how her daughter worked three days a week.

One mom was bling-ed out, with sparkles on her sneakers, on the back pockets of her jeans, and on a big flower on her head band. One was quite pregnant and shepherding three boys under five around. Two were engrossed in their iPhones while their kids enjoyed running around. Some looked like they had stepped out of fashion magazines while others dressed more comfortably for crawling on the floor.

One in her early twenties commented to me how every time she and her two year old son came, she only ever sat on a bench while he spent two hours engrossed with the model train - she didn't think that after working her way through UT, this is how she would pass a morning each week. Her appeals to interest him in the motion exhibit or the play kitchen fell on deaf ears.

After two years in a stratified society, I enjoyed the mixing of kids and parents from so many different backgrounds. And the "artisan sausage" with huckleberry compote and applewood smoked cheddar for lunch after (http://hotdogscoldbeer.com/).

That In Between Space

A friend in HYD talked about the time between packing out and leaving as "that in between space" when one is neither here nor there. The boxes are en route to the new city as are many thoughts, but one still has work and relationships to attend to in the current place. I think the limbo period actually extends until arrival at the next post; right now we certainly aren't anywhere in particular. We're enjoying Austin and spending time with grandparents - and are looking forward to visiting more friends and family on our east coast driving tour - but where we actually "are" is up for debate.

It hit first on arrival in Houston: the customs form asked for our city of residence. It wasn't HYD anymore. We haven't set foot in Manila, so we couldn't call it that either. Technically Austin is our US residence, but we're only here for three weeks. And we'll only be in the DC area for five weeks. After nearly 30 hours of traveling with two kids, six checked bags, 5 carryons and a dog, Greg and I looked at each other bewildered. Where do we live right now? (We did fill in Austin.)

Though enjoying the extended vacation, four weeks of no work is a little strange for everyone. William wants to know why Grandpa Bob goes to work but we both stay home. We are certainly not used to having to entertain a one year old and three year old 100% of the time! So, that in between space is not just about figuring out where we live or half-adjusting to the US just in time to have to learn a new culture in Manila, it also means finding a new rhythm for our days.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Last Blog from HYD

All good things must come to an end, the saying goes, and so it is with our time in HYD.

We had a wonderful "Hello 2011, Goodbye HYD" brunch this morning, with a fun variety of friends stopping in. Shabu and Sarwari are sorting through our extra kitchen stuffs to divide amongst themselves. Greg is busily packing the last suitcase with the random odds and ends left in the house. Patch is napping. William (despite what he told everyone at brunch this morning!) isn't napping, but is lying down watching cartoons. Actually, Wm's had a pretty lucky day -- chocolate with lunch followed by ice cream and then cartoons in the afternoon. It's just too sad a day to have any rules.

Now I'm off to nap in anticipation of being awake with Patrick the full flight to Houston. We're sitting two and two on the flights, and Greg opted for William as his travel companion. We'll see State-side if he chose wisely!

A big thanks to all of our friends in Hyderabad. Of course we're excited to see our family and friends in the US, but we couldn't have asked for a better two years for our first assignment abroad. Keep your fingers crossed that I'm not so red from crying at the airport that they think I have some kind of strange disease and don't let me out of the country.