I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter. I am a blossoming cook, an avid reader, a wanna-be runner and a pathetic gardener.
I was homeschooled as a child and some days wish that I had the patience to do the same with my own children.
I am stubborn, melodramatic and sometimes impossible to reason with. I am steadfast in my belief systems, vocal and respectful at the same time.
I have always exercised my right to vote, my right to free speech and my right to stomp my foot when I see something that is wrong.
I type a ridiculous amount of words per minute, but can't possibly have an intelligent argument with my husband to save my soul. I pass up movies in the comedy section and go only for movies that make me think. I have friends that run in very different circles and am a bit scared of the day that those circles intersect.
I love coffee first thing in the morning, despise housecleaning and adore the beach. I want to live my life without fear or regret - but only if I've exercised due diligence in researching my options.
I write, I love, I create, I dream and I hope to make an impact ... if only a small corner of my world ... for the better.
You want to know some of the things I love about India?
Colors. Brilliant, vibrant, amazing colors. Fabrics that are spectacular … really and truly … on women that wear this for “daily use.” It is a rainbow of colors just outside my window, on the streets and in the markets.
The sense and respect of family.
The traditions of celebrating – with zest and energy – historical moments, family ties and this country’s story.
The poverty. [I know - you think I typed that in the wrong post, right?] It is consistently there and in my face. I do not go one day without being grateful for my life. [and I wear THIS shirt OFTEN!]
I do not go one day without trying to find some way to teach my children how to be giving and compassionate.
The cheap and easily accessible medication
The ability to quickly and sometimes effortlessly get what you need. Instead of having to schlep to a bookstore yesterday to pick up the current selection for our book club, I was able to hand over Rs. 200 ($4) to a street vendor and have the book handed through my window while running other errands.
The opportunity to form lasting imprints on my heart.
The fantastic and awesome-ness that comes with having a housekeeper. Vain, I know, but I LOVE this part of being here!
Fresh produce … that doesn’t rot the instant you bring it home (like the grocery store I used to shop at).
The ability to walk out of our door in the morning and within 10 minutes be at an open air market to buy fresh cashews and gorgeous flowers for pennies.
I’ll post more … as I think of them …
What do you love about where you are?
Commenting is easy … join in the discussion and let me know you’re out there!
The following information is being borrowed from Dyhan Summers, a psychotherapist here in Delhi, who works with expats – singles, married couples, families and children.
She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wanted to share it with you because – no matter your location – I feel it is one of a parents MOST important jobs, to teach your children compassion. Compassion is not a character trait that can be easily learned once you reach adulthood. It needs to be fostered, grown and encouraged while your children are still molding into what you’d like to see them become ::
Talking With Kids About Poverty
A. Actions speak louder than words 1. Be clear within yourself about your own attitudes, feelings and what action, if any, you want to take regarding poverty in India. 2. Communicate your ideas simply and clearly to your children, i.e. “I don’t want to give money, but maybe we can bring food along next time to give out.” 3. This is no different than discussing any other sensitive issue with your children. It must be age-appropriate and put in a way they can understand.
B. Use real life incidents of street beggars to explore your child’s feelings and thoughts about the poor 1. Elicit a 2 way conversation, don’t ask “yes” or “no” questions. For example, if street children are begging, ask your child what feelings come up for him or her when they see that and offer your own as well 2. You don’t have to have all of the answers, simply raising the issue and giving your child a chance to express his/her feelings is often sufficient 3. Children need to be validated for the feelings they have, it is important to normalize their feelings
C. Handling anger and negative emotions 1. sometimes older children will react with anger, i.e. “that kid is disgusting”. Use this as an opportunity to teach your kids about the causes of poverty 2. always make sure your children understand that though these children might look and act differently from them, they are still human beings like us and are to be respected 3. sometimes making eye contact with a disadvantaged person is an affirmation of their humanity 4 teach your children that is never ok to make fun of disadvantaged children
D. Taking action as a family 1. Children will often want to do something, i.e. “why can’t we bring that little girl home with us?” use this as an opportunity to discuss possibly volunteering together as a family 2. Explain that volunteering can help a great number of children and is a way to ensure that they really get help 3. Discuss possibility of children putting together a package of toys and clothes they no longer use for less fortunate children
Teaching Children Compassion
A. Definition of compassion. The desire to assuage the feelings of suffering in others. It is positive, not pity and is a combination of feeling and action B. Compassion vs competition; so much of a child’s life revolves around competition in school, sports and video games. Competition stresses “me” and often works against compassion C. teaching compassion begins at home, communicate the benefits of compassion, how it makes us feel better about ourselves and also helps others D. be a positive role model for your children. believe and practice compassion as a family with yourself and other family members E. talk about famous heroes – Mahatma Gandhi, MLK, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, etc. Read kids appropriate biographies. F. use stories to bring out compassionate action
SO … what do you DO to teach compassion?
Some of my thoughts on how to easily teach and model compassion.
1. Sign up to make dinner for a new neighbor, or someone who is ill or has just had a baby. Instead of simply signing up and delivering a meal, take an extra step and involve your children. Have them color a note to attach to the meal, or pick a favorite poem or song to write out for the recipient.
2. Talk often about how we can be kind, generous, affectionate and loving to each other. I want for my children to have the “awwww” response when they see an injured animal or a sad friend. I want for them to have empathy and feel the best way is to consistently talk about feelings and how to help others.
3. Sponsor a child, donate to a local (or far away) charity or collect items from your home to drop off at a battered womans shelter, or home for homeless children.
4. Sponsor a collection drive amongst your friends. Instead of gathering simply for coffee and fruit snacks, ask participants to BRING something that can then be gifted to others.
5. Enlist the help of a savings bank like Preschool Money Manager to help children save, spend AND share their money.
When Todd was house-searching for our new home in Delhi, India, there were several things on the list of “would like to have” as he saw flat after flat after flat.
Some sort of space somewhere for the kids to play. Many times over I’d been told “children don’t play outside during the day … only at night when the heat has passed.” Even though we figured they knew what they were talking about, we still felt it was important to have green space nearby.
Todd scored in a serious way, with a small park one block away to our left … and a much larger park to our right. There is even playground!
It looks “normal” right? JUST like in the States, right? And it’s JUST down the street … walking distance. We are in heaven. We had to drive to a playground back home, so this is like amazingly wonderful.
Most days, we find it’s true that children do NOT play outside until much later in the day … close to 6:30 pm or so. We’re troopers though (either that or we’re BORED) and we go at ANY time of the day, heat or no heat.
We take our cold bottled water and a little package of baby wipes (for cooling our brows) and trek out.
We leave our house and all of the guards snap to attention. “Good morning (or afternoon) Madam” they say. We turn the corner and walk past a street cart filled with fruits all displayed just so. We walk past numerous dogs (street dogs … NOT to be petted) and round the corner near the Dominos and Cafe. So far, we seem to be the only non-Indian folks out walking and taking strolls. No matter though, we’re not going to stay “inside” for anything!
We then pass the fresh flowers … dirt cheap and gorgeous, the street cart with icee cones and the man in his normal spot selling baskets … piled high on the back of his bicycle.
It all feels normal to us already.
Guess what else is the same as back home? The smiles. We don’t need to know Hindi, and these kiddos don’t need to know a lick of English.
“Fun” looks the same whether you’re in Suburbia somewhere in Ohio … or in the middle of Delhi, India.
I have felt happy tears well up during our outings at the playground. Watching my kidlets form bonds with these children … who they don’t know and can’t communicate with. Watching them hold hands with children and take turns on the slide.
[Yesterday, there was a group of street children at the playground. They seemed to be taking a break from their long day of begging and were simply getting in some playtime. Out of the 5 that were there, 3 of them were naked ... head to toe. Mia sat down next to the baby (I'd guess 8-12 months?) and just looked intently. She didn't say anything except "Hi baby" and then walked away. Tony also didn't have anything negative to say about their cloth-less bodies except to ask where their parents were. Fascinating to me to see/hear the way my children are processing all of this.]
[another side note :: I am kind of apprehensive about photo taking. I want to capture dozens of photos, but I want to also respect the subjects of my photos. I haven't figured out the appropriate way to ask ... or to discreetly snap photos. Hoping I figure that out soon, because I want to share the images and sights, sounds and smells with you through my camera.]
Look closely … can you see Mia’s little hand poking out from the crowd on that slide?
Take two … back to the INA Market as we were having fish for dinner last night. This ain’t your neighborhood Krogers or Giant Eagle, people.
In an effort to hopefully somewhat adequately describe this experience … I can tell you that INA is a closed market (not open air) and has what seems to be hundreds of shops.
From plasticware to shoes, saris and fabrics, vegetables, meat, fish (both live and already processed), live animals, cheeses, grains, spices, stationery, even “American” items like Lucky Charms and Jiff peanut butter.
There are no spiffy clean tile floors, no shopping carts and orderly shopping. There is no hand sanitizer when you first enter, and there is definitely no elevator music to lull your ears while you shop.
There is no mindless shopping here either … you don’t have aisles and aisles and shelves upon shelves to choose from, while on the other hand, there are some instances of MORE than you could ever imagine to choose from.
As you walk through the maze of shops, shop owners call out to you “Need something today, madam?” or “What can I get for you, madam?” It is a noisy experience. Bargaining and negotiation for the best price is a constant.
The smell is pretty hard to convey. Tony had a VERY hard time in this environment because of the smell and the heat. As an adult, I have been able to mentally push past the smells. It is a combination of all of those spices, the fresh meat, the animals (and all that comes with animals in containers), loads of hot/sweaty bodies, and simply the smell of India, etc. all combines for a pretty powerful sensory overload.
As we walked by the chickens, ducks, roosters and fish — the kids said “awwwwww mom … look at the animals!”
Little did they know that if they wanted chicken for dinner, one less “cute little animal” would still be sitting in that cage.
This catfish … was a rather hysterical story. A woman had asked to purchase a catfish … once wrangled out of the blue bucket, he somehow escaped from his plastic bag (en route to be … well … ready to take home for dinner). He flopped around the market floor for what seemed like an hour as all of the shop owners chased him around. The kids found THIS rather amusing.
Oh … the fabrics… I think I’ve gone to heaven. I can NOT wait until my sewing machine arrives!
I’m going to enjoy our times at the markets! I am looking forward to trying out Khan, Nehru Place and Daali Haat (forgive my spelling?) after the kids start school!
What is something “outside the box” that you might try with your children? Something outside of their comfort zone … outside of their bubble of normal?
What India has already taught me [a.k.a what I've learned during this move to Delhi, and how it relates to marriage as I know it ... a SAHM with two littles and a big kid at home, with a very hard-working husband] :
Let’s face it and be honest … when one spouse is working and the other is at home with the kids, there never really is a “good” time to talk during the day. Truthfully, even when evening approaches, time doesn’t magically make itself available either. Even more damaging to efforts at communication is a 9.5 hour time difference.
I’ve learned that in order for communication to happen, and actually flourish, both parties have to MAKE TIME. You don’t necessarily have to make time … at the same time. But the effort does need to be made.
When you phone your husband, understand that he might not be able to make the time right at that moment. He may be in the middle of changing oil, performing a root canal, negotiating a contract or in the middle of a therapy session (or whatever it is your hubby does). You don’t have any control over how his day progresses or entails, no matter how pressing YOUR issue happens to be.
What you DO have control over though, is making time when HE calls YOU to carve out even 5 minutes to concentrate your energy on listening to what he has to say.
Yes, I know. You might be in the middle of making lunch, homework or refereeing an argument. Even more disconcerting, you may be in the process of herding your children out to the car for an outing. You may have just hung up from an hour on the phone with your electric company arguing about a bill or just finished speaking with a teacher about a behavior issue. There’s also a huge possibility that when he calls that you’re in the middle of a diaper change, cleaning up vomit from one of your pets or knee deep in laundry.
Whatever you are doing, make the conscious effort — if you can — to STOP what you’re doing … and listen. I am still working on learning how to effectively verbalize to Todd that sometimes I really can’t devote any time to a phone conversation (because of circumstances on my end of the phone) … and there are some times when he WISHES I’d just not answered the phone (when the kids are screaming banshees!).
I need to make more of an effort to explain quickly that I will be able to talk … after I finish changing a diaper, or get the kids loaded up in the car. Then I’ve effectively communicated where I’m at in my day and we can hopefully have a good conversation, maybe just a bit later in the day.
Another thing we have learned and put in place – actually long before India came about — is a “two ring system.” If I call him during the day at work and he doesn’t answer, we have put a system into place whereby I call again right away. If I’ve “rung twice,” it means that I need him to call me back ASAP, step out of a meeting, or otherwise make himself available to me.
The conversation that happens in those five minutes can either be positive or negative. Might as well give it a go to ensure that they are positive!
What tips and tricks do you have for making time in your marriages and relationships?
Naomi and has very recently moved with her husband and three kids to Delhi, India. She has written several blogs about her move to India, and will continue to chronicle her adventures here on our Tea blog. Check back to read about her exciting adventures!
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”
-Leonardo da Vinci
Have you taken any time recently to have a little relaxation?
What I consider relaxation varies from day to day and can take on many different shapes. One day it might be making an effort to drink my morning cup of coffee while it’s ALL still hot. Other moments, I crave a pedicure. Some weeks almost demand a massage (please tell me you’ve had one before?). Other times it is simply getting 10 minutes to lay in the grass and stare up into the sky, uninterrupted. There are times that I run a hot bath, with fizzy stuff and attempt to read a book, but most times I get too hot and crabby after 5 minutes and end up sitting in front of a fan, without having gotten any chapters read from the book.
I think that we all need a break from the go-go-go and the to-do list. It sounds obvious, right? Of COURSE we all need a reprieve from the daily grind … but how often do we really make an effort to do it? Can you remember the last time you set aside the obligations of the day, of the week and just set aside time for YOU?
I get my best ME time when I’m writing, journaling and listening to music. I often explore last.fm or Pandora to educate myself on new-to-me music. When I can think clearly enough to plan ahead, I also very much enjoy pilates or yoga for some head-clearing time to myself. Since this whole overseas relocation started, I have also taken to more regular pampering exercises, often at the suggestion of my husband. When I don’t take time for myself, I can almost watch myself fall apart, lose patience with those around me and forget where I should be focused on.
Lots of moms I talk to say that they don’t make time for themselves, because they feel spoiled. They say its wasteful to take that time, get a pedicure and not be with their kiddos. I’m not spoiled, I’m just hoping for a more balanced life, and a happier momma. I have really needed to make a conscious effort through this process to set aside time for myself. I wish I was able to help my husband – who is currently 8,000 miles away from me – to carve out some time from his busy schedule to get some “DAD time” … we sure all need it! Hoping to have that high on my list of priorities when we finally arrive in Delhi … helping him take time and focus on himself a bit more!
What do you get when you combine a car, three children, a cat, a vehicle full of luggage and over 800 miles?
You get a ROAD TRIP!
How does one safely make the journey, while also retaining sanity?
Some of our tried and true tips for surviving a road trip with kiddos:
I’m refraining from posting my thoughts on traveling with pets, as I hope to never do that again … if you need tips, email me and I’ll be happy to share our suggestions individually with you.
WHAT TO BRING:
CELL PHONE CHARGER! Too often I make the organizational mistake of packing this in my luggage that I don’t have easy access to. Huge bummer when you have a cell phone with a dead battery!
Bottle brush (We love this kind) — makes cleaning out sippy cups a BREEZE when you’re on the go with no access to a dishwasher.
Boxed milk that requires no refrigeration (We love this kind) — if your kiddos can’t live without milk, this reduces the need for a cooler in the car!
Ziploc bags of all sizes — perfect for trash bags (when you need to contain smelly trash, or to ensure that random french fries from the last drive-thru lunch stay put instead of all over the car).
Diapers that your little one has outgrown — maybe a strange tip, but they make for a really fun game of hot potato without fear of breaking or hurting anyone!
Dryer sheets to place underneath carseats — another strange tip, but it helps keep the car smelling … well … spring fresh!
Ziploc Big Bags (we LOVE THESE!) — pack one in your overnight bag for dirty clothes. The size holds your entire family’s dirty laundry AND zips shut to keep the odor-ifious-ness contained.
Travel size of Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo. This works for bathtime, sink-cleaning laundry if needed, washing out sippy cups, etc.
Nightlight. Nothing is worse than an unfamiliar bedroom (whether hotel or with family) than a dark bedroom.
If you are staying in a hotel or with friends along your way, pack what EVERY member of the family needs into ONE bag.
change of clothes for the next morning
Ziploc big bag
When you arrive at your first night’s destination, it is so nice to only have to remove ONE bag for the night instead of pulling all sorts of random bags into the lobby, WITH your tired and cranky kiddos.
If you are staying at a hotel, ask the front desk attendant when you check in to allow you to raid their continental breakfast room/fridge for some milk cartons (put them on ice with your bucket) and boxed cereal.
Throw in some fruit, and you’ve got your own bedside breakfast ready in the morning without forcing you to get dressed and wrangle the littles into clothes first thing.
Use a small cookie sheet that magically transforms into a lap desk. The benefits to this are numerous:
Colors are contained within the outer lip
Snacks are easily kept at bay (imagine goldfish flying all over the car when you hit a bump?)
They easily slide underneath the seats for storage
We find our trips go the best when I’ve pulled aside some toys several weeks prior to our trip, so that the toys become “new” to them.
The dollar bin at Target, or your local dollar store also makes for great “new toys” for in the car. Don’t go overboard, but pick up some cheap things and your kids will be thrilled!
We also intentionally swap out toys every 30-45 minutes … even if they’re not “done” playing with them. Instead of waiting until frustration levels are high and they’re beyond playing with the toys, refresh their scenery and swap out on a regular basis.
Ziploc or grocery-store bag each GROUPING of toys. Explain to your kids that they need to keep all like items together and you’ll all save yourself some much needed energy.
If you have room between carseats, throw in a plastic crate (like THIS) — the crate will serve numerous purposes along the way. (For the kids to keep their juiceboxes, snacks, toys in their reach, etc.)
Pack each kiddo a backpack of their own special things. Include in their backpack their OWN bag of colors, kid-friendly scissors and … a roll of tape. No joke here … that roll of tape can keep them busy for H.O.U.R.S!
Create a BINGO game of sorts (afix it to their cookie sheet lap tray for ease). Identify several things that the kids will be likely to see along your journey and let them color in the squares when they spot each one.
Create a “map” of your journey with your starting location, your final destination and pinpoint several landmarks or locations along the way. Provide stickers just for this map and help your children identify and understand a bit more the process of the journey. It cuts down a bit on the “Are we there yet?” question.
EACH AND EVERY TIME you stop for gas or potty breaks, clean out the car. Take the extra 5 minutes to throw away that trash!
ANOTHER MUST? Designate the pouches on the back of the seats for the kids’ shoes and socks. If they have special blankies or lovies, also use those pouches for those items. Instead of having to search high and low for these things when they are rapidly needed, form a habit of always placing them in those pouches.
DVD Players. I canNOT stress this enough. Each child gets their own DVD player AND headphones. Saves from fighting over which movie to play, whose player is louder, etc.
* * *
With a little bit of planning, alot of patience and some organization, you can make your summer road trips bearable! I’m sure there are SO many more travel tips. Share your favorites!
That little beauty is my niece who currently lives approximately 471 miles away from me. I hate that we live so far away, and am upset that we are about to move even farther.
I can’t control where our family has placed themselves, across the nation, and even overseas already as my mother lives in Kenya. I can however, control the frequency of my attempts to make connections and form bonds.
The internet is a wonderful thing – you can send photos, videos and even e-cards to your loved ones with a click of a button.
I plan on using EVERY resource available to me as we leave soon for our relocation to Delhi, but I also plan to try and remain loyal to “real” communication.
When we recently made our dandelion paintings, we stuck one in the mail to the little darling in the photo above. How sweet it was to receive the photo via email of her looking at and touching the painting.
She’s too young to understand that Mia MADE that painting for her, and too young to appreciate that they may very well form a close relationship as they grow up – no matter how far they are separated.
These two girls – my Mia and my niece who we affectionately call “Babybug Ladybug” can indeed form a bond, even across the miles. That is, if we choose to make the effort to keep them in touch.
Whether it be sending each other post cards of their travels, or finding fun things to collect and exchange via the mail … or maybe even keeping an online blog together of their experiences (how fun would that be?) … there are all sorts of creative ways to help keep a friendship and relationship intact even when you are separated physically.
I plan to help instill a relationship between the two youngest girls in our family … and hope to see it blossom and grow as they grow up!
Now available (AS OF TODAY!) through Amazon.com and at Target, ToysRUs and other retailers, this truly great CD features authentic culture in music styles that you moms and dads will also enjoy listening to (I promise!). This is not another one of those cds that you cringe at when your kids ask to listen to it!
Our family has spent many an afternoon be-bopping to this CD and the kids are even learning the words (in other languages!). Global Wonders is an award-winning CD, produced/composed by Jim Latham (who has also written for Disney).
This CD includes an impressive 19 songs spanning the globe – almost literally – with music from India, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Ireland, Cuba and the United States (New Orleans Jazz, and Hawaiian Tiki). Highlights include a unique version of Vande Mataram, (India’s national song and the second most popular song in the world, per the BBC), incorporating a children’s choir into the chorus; Go Go Greece, a get-up-and-dance traditional Greek song; Banda Dance from Mexico; the Bollywood style India Celebrations; and America The Beautiful in a gospel vibe.