Leaving Chennai, part 3 – Final Roundup

Today is our last day in Chennai, which means this is my last blog post from here. The packing is pretty much finished, there is mess all over the house, and all the furniture is getting picked up at varying times throughout the day by 4 different people. Pretty much all of it sold, except for the old water filter and microwave, though we may be able to get the scrap dealer, who has taken a number of our things, to buy them.

Sidney the cat is noticing the changes around here. She was outside on the balcony early and saw that I had the light on, so she cried her most pitiful cry. Then seeing as I wasn’t opening the door, she jumped to the window where I couldn’t ignore her. Now she is roaming the house meowing, looking for everyone else who is still asleep (it’s not quite 7 a.m.). I think she will miss us as much as we will miss her.

Now for some “I remembers”:

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I remember the day Logan got his first crib. It meant a more comfortable night sleep for me. (14 months old)

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I remember the shock of finding this rocking horse in a parcel shortly after praying to get one for Logan. (19 months old)

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I remember how sweet Logan was with Lila, and how much he wanted to hold and play with her. (Logan 20 months, Lila 3 months)

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I remember I was lying down and Lila was nursing, while Logan was making his puzzle next to me. He put the knob of each piece in his mouth and then stuck it in the puzzle.

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I remember seeing Lila in this rare thumb-sucking moment, and thinking how cute she looked. It’s one of my most favorite pictures of her. (3 months old)

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I remember how excited he was to get to pet this baby goat. He had been chasing the goats and they were all running from him. Then this man stopped and picked one up for him. (2 yrs. 3 mo.)

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I remember this moment of bonding between Lila (19 months) and Scarlett (10 days).

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I remember that Scarlett really loved our homemade popsicles. (16 months)

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I remember how excited they were when I told them they could play tea party on the balcony. They brought everything out. (Lila, 3 yrs., Scarlett, 17 mo.)

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I remember this day when daddy and Logan reversed rolls and had lots of fun on the roof.

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I remember how much work it was to get those not-quite-perfect lines in Lila’s hair.

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I remember they were so excited that it was Christmas Day and they could have chocolate and cookies for breakfast. (Lila, 3 1/2; Logan, 5 yrs.)

There are so many more special memories but I’m going to have to stop here. Tomorrow morning early we will be driving off towards Bangalore, where we will spend the night and head out the next day for Mangalore.

And now I’d better get going as I have a 9:30 dental appointment.

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Leaving Chennai, part 2 – Special Events

If you missed the first part, you can read it here.

 

There have been many special days and events that have happened in the past 5 years since we moved here, but I’d have to say that the biggest and best of the special events were that Lila and Scarlett were both born here, in the same hospital, delivered by the same doctor.

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Newborn Lila.

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With daddy.

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Newborn Scarlett

Nana Mable visited several times.

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With newborn Scarlett. November 2010

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Her birthday. That is Lila she is holding. November 2010

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At the zoo. June 2012

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At the beach. Lila was miserable and hated it. November 2012

 

Logan and Lila started school.

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Logan on his first day of preschool. June 2011

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Lila on her first day of preschool. June 2012

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Logan’s first day of kindergarten. July 2012

 

We had some family vacations.

Mahabalipuram, just outside Chennai, February 2010.

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Dinner at a sidewalk restaurant.

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Going down to the beach.

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Swimming in the pool.

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Relaxing.

 

Mango Hill resort and a visit to the Crocodile Bank Reserve park. July 2013

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Checking out the crocodiles.

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Learning to swim.

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Such a water baby.

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Fun times.

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My handsome men.

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At dinner.

 

So many memories, so little time to go over them all. I’m going to do one more post in this series, but right now I need to go get myself and the kids dressed for a little goodbye party that is happening at Glad’s office.

Packing

Packing – there is so much to do and so little time to do it in. I’ve got just one week to go through everything that we own and cut it down to the bare minimum of what we will need while in Mangalore. But I’m excited! We’ve been waiting for this time to come for over a year now, and it’s finally here!

Yesterday I pulled out all of our suitcases and bags. I found the padlock for our back door that went missing about 2 years ago, conveniently hanging from the zipper of Glad’s small suitcase that hadn’t been used in forever. The suitcase was sitting inside a larger one that was stored under my bed, and of course, I never went into it because there was no need. I wonder what I’ll find today?

Last week I was getting rid of junk, throwing stuff out or giving it away. This week, I’ve got to look at every item still in the house and decide whether it will go in the bags we are taking or the ones we are giving away. Honestly, all we are keeping are clothes (about half of what we all own), a few toys and books, some personal items, and a few decorative things for Canada, plus a few things from the kitchen that my MIL wants or that I want to keep using while at her house, like my favorite glass baking pan.

Of course this will be reduced even more once we fly to Canada, but for now, if it fits in the car it can come.

Which brings me to the upcoming drive.

Remember last December when we drove to Mangalore? The trip that took two days? Yep, we are doing it again. Thankfully this time it is only one way. Two days in a car with kids is enough to drive anyone mad. My kids can’t do a whole lot in the car since two of them get carsick easily. Last time Logan asked literally every 5 minutes if we were there yet, and “but we’re supposed to be there already” is all I heard all day, unless he was napping.

So if you don’t hear too much from me this week or the next, you know what I’ll be doing.

The Root Canal Wasn’t as Bad as I Thought it Would Be

Ten a.m. this past Sunday found me in the dentist chair, getting a very large needle stuck in my gum.

For so long, years honestly, I’ve put off taking care of this tooth that has gone from a small cavity to a large hole in the side. The hole only grew when I was pregnant and got worse over time.

I finally reached a point where I couldn’t stand enduring the pain any more, so I went to a dentist. You can read how that went here. That particular dentist was not in full practice, however, so I went to a very modern dental clinic for a second evaluation. From the beginning I was much more comfortable with them than with the previous dentist.

I had brought the kids with me (no way I couldn’t), and they kept the assistants busy – touching everything, asking what everything was, Logan showing off his loose tooth, etc. – while the doctor checked my mouth and I had a x-ray done in another room. These dentists were very helpful, reassuring me that nowadays the root canal is the better option, and that they prefer to save the tooth if it is savable, rather than pull it. They took time to explain why the root canal was better and they answered all my questions.

I took some time deciding though, because pain is something I just can’t stand. I couldn’t make up my mind whether enduring the pain of a root canal was preferable to the daily ache I felt in the tooth. I’ve heard so much about how painful a root canal can be. I think one thing that helped me decide was the very friendly customer service I got from the clinic – from the next day check-in call asking how the service was, to having the dentist call me personally with answers to some more questions I had.

After some hemming and hawing, I decided to go for it and set a date to get it done. I chose Sunday so that Glad would be home with the kids. I was so nervous going in, and getting a needle in my jaw first thing didn’t help. I had to wait while half my mouth went numb. The whole left side – cheek, gums, tongue and lips. (If you want to feel something weird, half a mouth is the way to go.)

I tried to lie still and not shake or tense my body. I had to force myself to relax, hard to do when you have to keep your mouth open as wide as possible while it is so numb you can’t feel it. My neck kept tensing up and hurting but I finally figured out how to relax it. At the end of 45 minutes, it was over. They took a mold of my mouth and are making a ceramic cap for the tooth that will be put on in a few days.

And the expected pain? I don’t know if it is the painkillers I’m taking or if it really just doesn’t hurt. I’ve not had any pain. Actually, the thing that has bothered me the most in the past 24 hours is the cut on the side of my tongue that I must have gotten from one of the dental tools.

I feel so much better now that it is done. No more throb or ache in my tooth. No more trying to dig out whatever particle of food happened to be stuck there at the moment. No more avoiding chewing on that side. It’s over.

Now I just have about six other fillings to look forward to. ¬†ūüė¶

Leaving Chennai, part 1 – Parks

At the end of this week, we leave Chennai for Mangalore. We are leaving more than just a city – it’s been our home for the past 5 1/2 years. When you leave a place where you have been for so long, memories abound. Like I did for the house we are leaving, I’m going to do some photo posts of places we have visited and things we have done that will forever be embedded in our hearts.

Parks is the topic for this first post. I’ve got thousands of photos of park outings, but I’m choosing the best ones to show you. These are from about 6 different parks that we have gone to regularly over the last 5 years.

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Logan at 19 months.

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2 years old.

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So handsome.

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Lila at 11 months old. She had just started walking and loved the park.

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This was to become our favorite park, being only a 5 minute drive away. Because of that huge tower, it is aptly known as “Tower Park”.
Logan, 2 1/2, Lila 15 months. You can almost see Scarlett popping out of my tummy.

Aug 07

Learning to slide on her own.

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This is one of my favorites. Lila, 21 months; Logan, 3 years.

Mar 19

I recall that this day was sweltering.

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One of their favorite things to climb – the snail. Lila, 2 years.

May 24

The main fountain at Tower Park.

May 26

Scarlett, 6 months old.

June 25

A good view of the tower. It has a ramp to walk up that circles the tower all the way to the top. but it has been closed to the public for years. I’ve always wanted to see the view from up there.

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It’s a rare occasion when daddy can join us. Scarlett was 14 months old.

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Who knows what lands this snail has taken them too?

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Valentine’s Day, 2011.

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First time alone on the swing. 15 months old.

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Such fun, carefree times.

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The day Logan graduated from preschool. Lila, almost 3; Scarlett, 16 months; Logan, 4 1/2 years.

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Trying out the skates she got for her third birthday.

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Fun times with daddy.

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Sweet.

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My climber. Nothing can ever stop her from reaching the top.

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First time up in a tree.

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Scarlett, 1 1/2.

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These next few photos were taken at the beautiful botanical gardens.

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Time for some tricks. Lila, 4 years; Logan, 5 1/2 years.

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Spiral slides are such fun.

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Their favorite way to use the snail now. Logan and Scarlett are sitting on the antennae.

And that brings me to the end of the park photo collection. We will have one last goodbye trip before leaving. Of all the parks in the city, we have used this one the most, and I shall miss it.

Memories From This House

In only a few short weeks, we will be leaving this house that holds so many memories. I thought it might be fun to do a photo post and take a stroll down memory lane.

We have been in this house 3 years and 8 months (as of the end of March 2014). There are so many special things to remember that it is hard to limit this post to the truly memorable ones from each year but I’ll try. To keep this as short as possible, I’ve not included Christmases or any special holidays, though those do hold some special memories for us.

Warning – lots of photos ahead. I’ve given links to some old posts but you don’t have to read them unless you really want to.

2010

We found this house in June 2010 after a month of intense searching. We had seen many other places, including one just down the street from this one that we almost took, but this house was the one. The photo below was taken just before going to see it for the first time.

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Logan, 2 yrs. 7 mos.; Lila 14 months.

We moved into the house in July. This is what the balcony looked like before we put the wire mesh up for the kids’ safety.

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I took photos of the house when we first moved in, but the flash had died on my camera so they came out dark. If you want to see them, click here.

Shortly after that we bought a new camera, so the rest of the pics from that time are clear. The balcony became a favored play area, enabling Logan and Lila to be outside without having to leave the house. I was pregnant with Scarlett at the time, and did not always have the energy to take them to the park. This balcony is the main reason we took this house.

Aug 55

Sept 12

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Logan celebrated his third birthday.

Nov 26

The big event of 2010 was, of course, Scarlett’s birth. You can read the story here and here.

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5 days old.

2011

Lila celebrated her second birthday.

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And she caused me a great deal of stress. Read this story to see how she terrified me when she was only 2 yrs, 1 mo. old, and this one about all the trouble she caused as a toddler.

Logan began preschool.

Sept 27

He also had his first stage performance during his school’s annual day. Daddy had to stand with him to keep him in place.

Logan's Annual day pics

Logan is furthest right in the back.

Logan celebrated his fourth birthday and Scarlett her first.

Nov 30

Nov 62

2012

Lila and Scarlett kept each other company when Logan was at school.

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Logan had his first sports day at school. Click here to read the funny story of how he did.

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We started making our own popsicles regularly.

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And we got a new pool for the summer (and the rest of the year).

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Aww…

Logan graduated from preschool.

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Logan and Lila went for their first summer day camp. And you won’t want to miss the story of the longest power cut we had in this house, that happened on this day.

Logan 4 1/2; Lila 2 weeks shy of her third birthday.

Logan 4 1/2; Lila 2 weeks shy of her third birthday.

Lila celebrated her third birthday.

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Lila began preschool and Logan move up to kindergarten.

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Lila had her first annual day performance. This was also her first public performance.

Lila is furthest left.

Lila is furthest left.

During an all-night power cut, I almost burned the house down.

Logan celebrated his fifth birthday and Scarlett her second.

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We took the train to Mangalore to visit Nana Mable.

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2013

This year we sent in our applications for Glad’s and the kids’ visas, and began the long wait for them to be processed.

Logan and Lila took skating lessons for a few months. You can read about it here.

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Lila had her first sports day.

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Lila graduated from preschool and Logan from kindergarten.

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Lila celebrated her fourth birthday.

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Logan and Lila had a home school year, since we had no idea how long the visa processing would take. I’ve not covered grades so much as focus areas for both of them. Logan has focused on writing skills and printing neatly. Lila focused on learning to read and write. Both have made so much progress and have learned a lot this year.

Scarlett had her first major accident that scared me.

Lila and Scarlett both had their first beauty shop hair cuts.

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Logan celebrated his sixth birthday and Scarlett her third.

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And we ended the year by driving to Mangalore to spend Christmas and New Year’s with Glad’s mom, his sister and her family.

This house has brought us many adventures. I just spent I don’t know how long going over old posts, looking for things that have happened here that would make interesting reading. It’s good I’ve kept all these records, because my brain just can’t hold so many memories.

If you are really curious, and you have a crazy amount of time on your hands, you can read everything I’ve posted from the time we first moved in to this house. Just go up there where it says “Previous Writings” and select June 2010 as your starting point. Everything after that, up ’till now, happened in this house. Well, except for any travels, of course.

The Little Joys of Summer

Summer is arriving to India once more. We didn’t think we’d be here for another summer but here we are all the same.¬†Despite the heat and daily temperatures of 30 – 32C, it isn’t technically summer yet. It’s not even technically hot yet, seeing as in a month, temperatures will reach highs of over 40C.

Since we are leaving at the end of the month, lots of prep is going on. We promised the person who bought the dining set that we’d have it varnished for them, so today the person who is working on it took all the chairs, meaning there was nowhere to sit for school time.

So I gave the kids the day off from school, and this is what they did this morning.

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I can’t think of a greater summer joy than sitting in the warm sun, wet from water play, eating a large bowl of ice-cold watermelon.

Our Mangalore Trip 2013

It’s been nearly a year and a half since we made our big announcement about moving to Canada, and all you’ve heard since is that we’re going but nothing concrete about when. Well, it’s been a long, drawn-out affair. You can read these links if you want to catch up on the details.

Our Move – Progress Update

Our Move – Progress Update 2

Why Our Move is Still Pending

The Canadian embassy strike last year really slowed things down for us. The processing time for visas has gone up to 12 months, meaning we have to wait until the end of March before we can start questioning more delays. We are confident that the visas will come – they have no reason to deny them – it is just a question of when they will come.

We spent Christmas and New Year’s in Mangalore this year. We figured it would be a good idea to spend as much time as we can with Glad’s mom before we leave, since we don’t know when we will see her again. One of Glad’s sisters and her family were also there at the time, so our kids got to spend some quality time with a few cousins.

Ready for a long drive.

Ready for a long drive.

We drove from Chennai to Mangalore, dividing the trip over two days with a stopover in Bangalore. This was our first long drive with the kids. Along the way there were good roads, bad roads, large highways, tiny back roads, and one long drive over a hilly area with what looked like the worst road in the history of roads. This particular road is windy, and to make matters worse, it was so broken up in most parts that we had to go super slow. Parts would be level and then drop into deep ditches, the road would narrow and widen often. It looked like it was full of craters, or that an earthquake had hit. In reality it probably hadn’t been repaved since it was first made. There was roadwork happening but that just slowed us down all the more.

We saw things like a huge truck have a tire blowout, another truck with an elephant in the back, lots of monkeys on the side of the road, and lots of bad driving. And this was the national highway! On our way home we took the state highway which wound through more hills but was nicely paved and had the most gorgeous views.

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There were also lots of trucks overloaded with hay, which made them look like moving haystacks. We took to calling them “one-wheeled haystacks”, from the scene in the movie “The Aristocats” where the butler is being chased by some dogs and his motorbike with a sidecar goes through a haystack and the sidecar gets separated and is driving on its own with the haystack on top.

They looked something like this.

They looked something like this.
Source

During our time in Mangalore, we visited the beach, parks and malls. One thing about Mangalore, it is small and everything is so close. Just down the street from the house there is a natural ice cream parlor, and we became regulars there, all 11 of us. ūüôā We also braved what must have been the world’s smallest photo studio and got family photos taken.

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Including 4 days of driving, we were gone for 2 weeks, the longest trip we’ve ever taken with the kids.

Mall outing on Christmas Eve.

Mall outing on Christmas Eve.

When we got home, I spent a few days just cleaning, since dust was thick on everything. Then we got back into our ¬†school routine, interspersed by sickness. Things almost feel normal around here…just hoping the visas will show up soon.

The Little Boy and the Fire Truck

There is a small park near our house where the children go to play on most days. They get to meet and play with children from the neighborhood, and have made a few friends there.

Set up right on the sidewalk next to the park is an ironing cart that looks something like this one.

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That is what Tamil writing looks like, Tamil being the local language here in Tamil Nadu.

These carts are very common here. Almost every street has one. While we have an iron at home, Glad will often take his work shirts to a cart like this and have them iron a stack for the week, to save him time in the morning.

They use these types of coal irons.

For a lot of poor families, the ironing cart is their livelihood. In order to make enough money to eat that day and buy the coal, they work all day. Many have their small children running around on the sidewalk and street while they work because there is no where else for the children to go.

The family who work the cart next to our park is like that. They have two small children who I’m guessing are under 3 years old. The mother often sends them inside the park to play, which is definitely safer than having them play on the street, but of course they have no oversight.

About 2 weeks ago, the kids and I were at the park and the little boy was there. Everything was going great until he discovered a small plastic animal Logan had brought along but had left on the ground. I let him play with it, but when Logan and Lila found out that he had it, they wanted it back and he wouldn’t give it up. He raced to the low side wall where his mother was working on the other side, and cried as she forced him to give the toy back to Lila, who was standing there trying to explain.

Had Logan been in a different frame of mind, I would have suggested that he let the boy keep it since he has so many at home. But Logan was very upset. These animals are his favorites and he can’t even stand his sisters taking them unless he is in a sharing mood.

As we walked home, Logan kept talking about how naughty the boy was, how he shouldn’t take other peoples toys, etc. I explained to him that the boy wasn’t naughty, but was more likely bored. I told Logan that his family is poor and can’t afford toys (I’ve never seen the children with any) and his parents have to work very hard just so they can eat. I then suggested that perhaps the kids could share some of the toys they never use with this boy and his sister. ¬†Logan freaked out at the idea so I dropped it.

Two days later we were headed to the park again. I reminded my kids about the idea of giving theses kids some toys, and I assured Logan he would not have to give up his favorites. Lila was excited to give them something so together she and I found two toys that never got any use – a sturdy fire truck and a squeaky baby doll.

As soon as we got to the park, Lila wanted to give them the toys so I let her run over to the wall to pass on the toys. The mother was very grateful for the toys and gave the truck to her son right away. Within minutes he was over at the playground, racing the truck over ever surface that he could. He piled rocks and sand for it, and Lila and Scarlett joined him.

I had never see this boy smile before, but that day he had a huge smile. He looked as if he would burst from the excitement of having a toy of his own, which I’m sure he never had before.

There are many poor people here in India, way too many for even the most generous person to help. I rarely give money to those begging, simply because once you do it, they want it every time you pass, and also it is hard to know who is for real and who isn’t. (There are many who aren’t.)

But this situation was different. This is a family who works hard to make ends meet, but can only afford the most basic necessities. The children wear clothes that look like they’ve come from a trash pile, so toys wouldn’t even be on the list of important things for them.¬†Lila sure felt the joy of giving that day. She was so happy to give the toys and see how happy they made this family.

As for me, it reminded me of how good it feels to give help when it is truly needed. It also helped me see that I need to talk about these things with my kids. They have grown up here. They see poor people all the time. They also know that they have pretty much anything they want, and it is hard for them to understand that not everyone can buy whatever they want at any time. This has led to more discussion on the topic of how not everyone is born into an equal station in life.

Their main question is, “Why not?” They don’t see rich or poor. They just see people. It can be hard to explain why some are poor and some are not, without getting into topics they are not ready for. For now, I will teach them to help whoever they can, whenever they can.

 

How do you go about teaching your children to help others?

What My Kids Have Been Up to Lately

School is now out for the summer. Lila’s last day was the 10th and Logan’s was today, the 12th. With summer comes setting up the pool and water play, making popsicles, summer camps and more. Lila’s birthday is also around the corner.

I figure now is a good time to write up some backlog of what the kids have been up to recently.

February 17th: Logan and Lila began roller skating lessons. They have made a lot of progress in this short time. Logan doesn’t fall as much as he did at first and Lila is getting fast. Her role model is a girl probably no more than a year older than her who skates like a pro already. Lila watches this girl zip around the rink, rarely falling, and tries to imitate her.

February 21st: Lila had her first sports day. Unlike Logan last year, she did a great job and ran when she was supposed to. I missed seeing her dance since I had to drop Logan at his school first, but saw it later on video.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right. You can also see Glad back there directing things.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Lila's class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

Lila’s class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

March 30th: Lila’s preschool graduation. I still don’t get why they do it two weeks before school actually lets out. But Lila was super excited about it. For about a month before it happened she asked me daily, “Is tomorrow my graduation?” We took a family photo together like we did last year, and we should get it soon.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

April 4th: Logan had a dress¬†rehearsal for his school’s annual day. Scarlett and I accompanied him for the long bus ride to the place an hour away from his school where the children from all the branches of his school were practicing their shows. Last year at his annual day performance, daddy had to stand with him to get him to even stay in place to perform. This time it was great to see him stand in place and dance with his class.

On the bus.

On the bus.

April 6th: Logan’s annual day performance. It was being presented in a large theater and there must have been over a thousand people there – parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, etc. All the children did so well. For some of them it was their very first time on stage.

Logan danced¬†really¬†well with no prompting needed from the teachers. We didn’t stay for the full performance as it was 1 1/2 hours and Scarlett was fussy from the beginning, though she did pay attention during a few of the dances when they were songs she knew. ¬†We saw the full performance from one school and half of the one from Logan’s school, as his dance was in the first song his school presented.

Afterwards we went out for ice cream, partly to celebrate and partly to cool off as the day was a¬†sweltering¬†36C. We went to a place that sells the ice cream by weight, so they give you huge scoops. The kids each got two, and surprisingly, both Logan and Lila said it was too much and couldn’t finish. ūüôā How often do you hear kids say they have too much ice cream? Ha.

Logan’s school didn’t have a graduation ceremony like Lila’s did, but they took a class photo (print only, I don’t have a soft copy), and had a party with the kids on the last day.

And those are the updates to date. I will include more photos as they come. Monday summer camps start for Logan and Lila; they are excited to go again, and I’m happy because it will give me some time without them daily – for the next two weeks. I really need my sanity so it is good when they go places.

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