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.

July 14

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.

Jan 32

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

Mar 19

I recall that this day was sweltering.

Apr 71

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.

Jan 102

Who knows what lands this snail has taken them too?

Feb 073

Valentine’s Day, 2011.

Feb 116

First time alone on the swing. 15 months old.

Feb 134

Such fun, carefree times.

March 209

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

May 001

Trying out the skates she got for her third birthday.

May 013

Fun times with daddy.

May 095

Sweet.

May 117

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

July 016

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.

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.

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?

Who is Really Stressing You Out?

Motherhood and stress – I find those words together a lot. Mothers all over the internet complain about how their children stress them out.

“My children are fighting and the noise is stressing me out.”

“Driving my children anywhere is so stressful.”

“I can’t shop with my children. Their antics stress me out.”

“Anytime I go anywhere with my child I end up stressed.”

We know that children are high-maintenance, and I’d be lying if I said I never feel stressed. But the question is, is it really the children who are stressing you out? Or are you allowing yourself to be stressed?

Yes, I said allowing. We have the power to decide whether or not to allow a situation to stress us out. We can either let the challenges of parenting get to us, or we can learn how to overcome them.

I know it is easier said than done, but for a mother to maintain her sanity, learning to avoid stress is so important.

Here are a few things I do to keep stress at bay.

1. Exercise

We all know that exercise is a stress-buster, but most of us don’t do it, for whatever reason. We allow our own health to sit on the back burner while we tend to those around us. It might seem noble to put yourself last, but it isn’t good for you.

Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers there is. If you can’t get away from your kids for it, do it with them. Dance in the living room, run at the park, go for a walk. Any exercise is better than none at all! So make time in your schedule for exercise.

2. Breathe

When your children’s antics are getting you riled, stop and breathe. Just take a minute to compose yourself by taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, and letting it out slowly. Go ahead. Try it now and see how good it makes you feel. Look out the window at nature, or step outside for a minute and breathe, and tell yourself you can handle whatever is bothering you. I promise you will feel the stress melt away.

3. Take time for yourself

Do something for yourself every day. Nap when your child does, read a book or your favorite blog, take a shower (and don’t feel bad if it takes an extra cartoon or two). Put on some makeup or brush your hair. Get dressed. Do something that will help you feel more like a woman and not just a “mom”.

I like to get up early for exercise, then take a shower and have my coffee before the kids get up. Thankfully my kids love to sleep late so early for me is up by 6. If your child is an early riser (or has to get up for school), see when else you can fit in time for you.

4. Keep a schedule

This will help you fit in numbers 1 and 3. Time for yourself is imperative so scheduling it will make it happen.

5. Be mature

Remember, they are just children. They are still selfish and self-absorbed. Everything is about them. Don’t take personally anything they say or do.

 

Now it’s your turn. What do you do to keep stress out of your life? Tell us about it in the comments.

35, Alive, and Truly Happy

Tomorrow is my 35th birthday.

Time has flown so fast. I feel like my childhood was only a few years ago and now I’m mid-30’s. How did that happen? Where did all those years go?

There was a time when I couldn’t imagine reaching 16. It seemed so old. Then once I was past 16, 25 seemed ancient. I remember thinking my mom was so old when she was in her late 40’s. (Sorry, mom. It’s true.) But now that I’m here, 35 feels so young.

For a long time I felt like I had wasted my best years, my 20’s, by doing so little of nothing in particular. I spent time as a nanny and preschool teacher, but I didn’t feel that was my life’s calling. I traveled, trying to find a place where I felt like … I don’t really know. I wanted to belong, to live, not just endure.

When I came to India 10 years ago, I wasn’t sure how long I’d be here. I spent a lot of time working with kids. It wasn’t bad. I know I was helping them, teaching them, caring for them, etc. Deep down the thing I wanted most at that time was my own family. I spent almost 4 years here before I met Glad. At that time I was ready to leave the country, but now I’m happy I stuck it out.

Everything changed when I started having kids. The past 6 years have been a blur – pregnancies, newborns, toddlers, diapers, feeds, messes; in short, insanity. But you know what? Exhausting as it was, I loved it! I finally felt like I had found what I was looking for.

Now that my kids are getting older, I’m realising that my best years have not been wasted; they are just beginning! The 20’s are about finding yourself, figuring out who you are and what you want out of life.  I spent most of those years worrying that I would never find a husband or someone to love me.

I never gave a thought to trying out a different line of work. I stuck with child care because I was good at it, but it wasn’t what I truly wanted to do. I’m taking time now to figure out what I really want to do. I know I want to write. And I love to create with my hands – crafts and such. With our pending move to Canada, a whole new world is opening up for me.

I feel more relaxed about the way my life is going now that I am in my 30’s. I force myself to stay positive, to stay away from worry or negative thoughts.  I exercise, make time for myself, and feel like I am truly enjoying life. I can honestly say that right now, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m happy with my life the way it is.

While there are always improvements to make, I don’t stress over them. I’ve always been the shy type, and I spent years trying to be outgoing, just because others told me I had to. I tried to will myself to change into an outgoing person, but the stress exhausted me. Now that I’ve accepted myself as I am, and no longer listen to those who tell me I have to be someone else, I’m happy.

This year I’m looking forward to our move and getting settled in what we hope is our permanent home. I look forward to getting settled in a job I enjoy, teaching my kids about a new country (they’ve never been out of India), and seeing my family again.

What do I want for my birthday? Nothing really. There isn’t anything I need. My only desire is a happy, healthy family, and perhaps a solid nights sleep. 🙂

So 35, I’m not afraid of you. I’ll see you soon.

Memories Captured Linkup – December Edition

Scarlett is my youngest, and such a doll. She is almost always happy and cheerful; only when she is tired or not well does she fuss and cry. She loves helping daddy polish off his meals. She follows the other two around, trying to get into their games. She is happy when included and complains to me when they push her away.

Nov 013    Nov 059

She talks all the time now and has an amazing vocabulary for a 2 year old. The words I most love to hear her say right now are “tookie” (cookie), “nabit” (rabbit), “nap” (lap) and “tode” (cold). She tells Logan and Lila off if they bother her, wagging her little finger in their faces and shouting her reprimand. Twice recently she had a firm retort for some strangers who asked her for what she had in her hands. In one case it was a book she wanted and she said, “No, it mine!” In the other, she was holding a jute shopping bag for me, and when one of the shopkeepers tried to take it from her she shouted, “No, dat mommys!” Ha.

Nov 022     Nov 090

She loves having her picture taken. And drawing with my pen. And going for walks. And watching “Minnie Dactous” (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). She is the one who will snuggle and say “I love you” with such gentleness, and then lick my cheek because she thinks it’s funny that Logan does it. She climbs into my bed at least once a night, then tries to sprawl, kicking Glad and I in the stomach (or worse) until I wake up enough to move her back to her bed so we can be comfortable.

 Nov 010            Nov 042

Scarlett is a cuddlebug, always wanting to be carried or sit on my lap. “I sit you nap,” she says each evening at storytime. Then if Logan or Lila try to get in she says “No, I sit mommys nap.” She loves the color pink. She points it out everywhere and wants to wear it all the time. She loves to announce whenever she burps or farts (courtesy of Logan’s training), and is the only one who has stepped on daddy’s sensitive parts more times than he can count.

She recently celebrated her second birthday. I don’t want her to grow up because I don’t want this cuteness to go away.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nov 063

  

Today I am linking up with These Little Waves for the monthly Memories Captured meme.

Memories Captured – October Linkup

“I did it, Mommy.” I’m starting to hear these words a lot more from my kids, especially Logan. For so long he didn’t want to do things himself; he never went through that “me do it” toddler phase. It was always “mommy do it” instead. Logan has recently learned to button buttons after much hard work and many tears. I actually didn’t realise that he could’t do it, because he never wore shirts with buttons and when I got him some button pj’s, I did them for him until daddy began asking why Logan didn’t do it himself.
Scarlett is at that stage now. Every day I hear “I do it self.”  Anything and everything she wants to do on her own. Here they are doing some paint with water books last Saturday after our big outing.

Another place I hear it a lot is during homework. Lila doesn’t want any help at all, unless she just can’t manage. 

Logan will still ask for help but has learned to do it himself.

Of course, the playground is a great place to do things yourself. Scarlett learned to swing on the jungle gym.

And Lila climbs to the very top.

Scarlett’s latest trick.
This kind of independence is a beautiful thing.

This linkup is brought to you courtesy of These Little Waves.

Memories Captured – July Edition

It is again time to link up some favorite photos via These Little Waves monthly photo meme, Memories Captured.
Sitting in a tree is such fun … especially the first time you do it.

I love hairstyles. Maybe one day she will have the patience to let me do french braids.

Blue day at school for Lila.

Daddy and his girls. They love him to bits!

On a recent rainy afternoon we made a tent in between the dining table and the couch.

Even daddy crawled in when he got in from work.

What special memories do you have this month?

This Week

Ok, I know it’s been a while, but I have some good excuses. Number one is that I was just feeling a little lazy and didn’t feel like posting, and number two is that, when I did want to post, Glad had claimed the laptop to rewatch all his favorite scenes from The Avengers – yet again.
And while those excuses are true, the real one was that my glasses broke and I couldn’t see the screen unless I was 6 inches from it, so I hardly used the computer at all last week. I finally got them on Saturday.
What do you think of them?

My last excuse for not posting was that I got numerous reports from readers that this blog was showing a malware warning and I was rather lost as to how to fix it. I finally got some help from Blogger and it seems to be clear now. If you are one of the ones who saw the warning before, tell me if it is gone now.

So getting my glasses was the first highlight of last week. The second, and possibly greater, highlight was that the children moved back into their room for nights and Scarlett has joined them.

No, we haven’t painted yet, sadly.

 As I explained in last year’s post on the same topic, we moved the kids into our room at night during the summer because of the need for the AC and them not wanting to be alone in the dark. Our room is a little weird; it has a window at the ceiling level facing the living room, so any light on in the house shines through. Thus it is never completely dark.

Also, Glad’s mom spent two weeks with us and she used the kids’ room instead of the guest room because the guest room doesn’t have an AC. This summer was the hottest on record for the past 8 or so years. It sure felt like it. So while she slept there, the kids slept with us and my room looked like this every morning.

On Saturday I packed up the crib so that Scarlett would see that the other crib that Lila had been in was now hers. Here is how my room looks now – right now, as a matter of fact. I meant to get a pic during the day with the bed made but I forgot and today I didn’t make the bed or do much of anything because Scarlett has a cold and wanted to be carried most of the day.  But you can see how it looks without the crib. We also got this new bed recently and it has glass side tables. Yet another reason to move the kids out.

Do excuse the mess.

 So since Saturday night, all 3 have been back in their room since nights have been cool enough to sleep without the AC’s. I got Scarlett used to the new bed by putting her into it for naps the whole previous week.

I don’t understand how she is comfortable in these weird positions.

 Lila’s new bed is the trundle from Logan’s bed. We knew the day would come when the 3 of them would be in this room, so when the two beds were offered to us by some friends we took them. We didn’t need the extra one at the time, but since it tucks under the larger one, it was never in the way.

Yes, those are all hers. She loves cuddle toys.

 From the first night, Scarlett has slept well in her new bed. Since about two weeks ago, she has been sleeping through the night all night, every night. Last night was the first night she woke crying but I think it was the cold bothering her. Logan has been taking longer to go to sleep at night and coming into our room and sneaking in next to daddy. I move him when I find him, but he is the hardest to keep out since he slept with us the longest and loved it.

These were taken at nap time recently.

Unfortunately I have yet to sleep through the night. One or the other of them wakes me, and these past few nights since they moved I feel I’ve been waking up more. One night out of tiredness I forgot to put a diaper on Lila and had to change her and the bed at 4 in the morning. She is still wearing diapers at night as she wets a lot and isn’t quite ready for nighttime training yet.

So I’m happy to have space in my room again and fewer bodies in my bed. It has felt weird to wake up with just us there (most mornings; Logan has been there once or twice) but at the same time there is a feeling of freedom. I just hope I will soon be able to sleep through the night myself.

Things That Make Me Smile

Just a few things that brighten my day…
Outdoor tea parties.
She has just learned to get on by herself and is enjoying the horse.
My new mop.
Pretty earrings.
Photos on display. I have more photos to frame than places to put them.
Not having to wash laundry by hand.
Exercise mat. I got 1 1/2 hours of workout this morning. Yes!
I want these!
So near, yet so far. (Yeah, they are on the other side of the wall.)
Summer is here.
And this means summer camps are happening. 3 hours of peace and quiet each morning. Ahhhh.

So the other day at the park we met a cow. All my kids love cows and Scarlett kept saying, “dao, dao”. (She is on my lap right now saying, “dats da dao”.)

We found some dried grass near the playground. Logan saw it and said, “Hay! Let’s feed the cow!” So he picked up a bunch, leaving a trail behind him as he went happily to feed the very hungry cow.

The next day, daddy was home and we went to the park together, and the cow was there again. Yes, it got more food from us.

 

I just found out about this meme, as it was mentioned in the comments I got below, so I checked it out and decided to link up cause I love sharing pics. This meme comes courtesy of These Little Waves.
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