I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Monday, February 27, 2012

We're Back Home

We made it back home yesterday. I have some blog posts to out up later. I'm just going to copy Sandwich's posts that she blogged about the last few days of the trip. I was too tired emotionally to blog about meeting Naveen and court, so she blogged it.

Naveen is a dream. He's fantastic! I blogged a little about him while we were waiting in the airport in Mumbai, but I wasn't able to get wifi access until we got home, so nothing's published yet. I find it very hard to talk about him without crying.... I'm a sensitive fool on my best day, so you can only imagine how I'm doing right now. I'm terribly jet lagged. The flight back home was brutal. 15 and a half hours from Dubai to Dallas, plus we sat on the tarmac for 2 1/2 hours waiting for take-off. That doesn't even include the flight from Mumbai to Dubai. And it turns out my stomach wasn't prepared for American food once I got home because I've been pretty sick this morning. All in all, I'm feeling physically and emotionally sick, so even thinking about Naveen and the next two months makes me want to just crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. I miss him so much.

But it was good to get back to the kids. I swear they've each grown a foot in the last week! And I've got plenty to do until the end of April. I'm anxious to get Noah back on his therapy routine ( although I'm not sure he's looking forward to it! Haha) and I'm just going to keep myself busy. The two months will get here eventually and I need to really focus on the kids and enjoy our last few months together as a family of five. I'm also hoping to brush up on my Marathi and learn some basic Indian cooking. Right now, my Indian cooking abilities fall under two categories: frozen meals and those that come out of a can. Or a pouch. I'm determined to master basic Dahl and jeera aloo before Naveen comes home. He also loves Gulab Jaman, but I've tried to make that before and it was hopeless. Gulab Jaman from a can, heated up in the microwave, will have to do.

Okay, all this food talk is making me queasy. I have to stop.

Will try to copy Sandwich's posts later today.

PS, thank you for all the comments while I was gone. I don't know how to reply to comments on the iPad ( I should spend these next two months learning how to master the iPad!), and I also don't know how to go back and edit posts, so I wasn't able to correct my many history mistakes. Or spelling mistakes. BTW, the food I loved isn't Puran Puri, it's Puran Poli. I think that's how it's spelled.

Ugh. Food. Queasy. Must stop now.

Leslie

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Made it to Pune!

I'm still trying to figure out how to blog on the iPad. I'm sure it's something that my 7 year old could handle, but I just can't wrap my head around it. Anyway, we made it to Naveen's town, and we're having a pretty low-key night. Sandwich and her daughter are in the room sleeping and I'm in the lobby waiting on chai. I know that if I take a nap now then I'll be up all night long, so I'm holding out as long as I can. Maybe the Chai will perk me up.

Earlier while they were asleep, I ventured out on my own.

Who is this brave girl that's taken over my body?

Have you ever tried crossing the street in India? It's a bit like playing frogger... You get across as fast as you can and just pray you don't get squashed.

Or you just attach yourself to someone who's about to cross and do what they do. And sometimes, they'll be really sweet and go all boy scout/girl scout on you and hold your hand.

I guess I'm officially an old lady that needs help crossing the street.

I think I was quite the spectacle attempting to cross 3 major intersections, and while I don't speak Marathi, I'm pretty sure people were yelling out bets on how long it'd take before I a) chickened out, sat on the side walk and cried, b) froze in the middle of the street, got hit and cried, or c) got scared, peed myself, and then cried.

But I made it. I went into a shopping center, tried on some Indian clothes and then realized that in India, I'm considered morbidly obese (one salesgirl looked me up and down and told me they didn't carry things in my size).

I think I'll go console myself with some Panner Muttar masala...

And that concludes today. Just biding time until I get to meet Naveen tomorrow. Less than 24 hours!!

PS. The name of our hotel in Mumbai was Traveller's Inn. If you're budget conscious, I highly recommend it!

PPS. My post about Mumbai ( I just posted it) was actually just cut and pasted from Sandwich's blog. Her blog is private, but she let me post it. Pretty much covers yesterday for us!

Adventures in Mumbai

Mumbai Day 3-- A Busy Day

We were busy beavers today. --I'll have to ask Meredith how to say beaver in Hindi.

Anyway, today we----

-ate toast or idli and sambar or Mysore onion rava masala

-walked 2 km to Colaba Causeway for shopping

-crossed the road 80 million times (you need help crossing an Indian street? Call us, we are your experts!)

-haggled, bargained and bartered our way to a LOT of souvenirs

-got pooped on by a vulture

-shared a McSpicy Paneer Burger and fries

-disagreed about whether the ice in the coke at McDonalds was safe (I'll let you know tomorrow!)

-ate chaat masala Happy Corn (Molly, remember Happy Corn?)

-ate Masala Chips

-held hands with an Indian man

-cleaned black smog out of our noses

-didn't get pickpocketed

-drank coconuts

-bought a disposable cup (2 Rs.) and had fresh- ...um, squeezed? Ground? Crushed? Anyway, it was sugarcane juice

-got invited to be in a Bollywood movie (too bad it's for tomorrow!)

-stepped on a chicken head

-got grabbed in the behind (twice). We're going to call this Leslie's Butt Trip.

-hunkered down behind the counter in the back of a store to try on tops

-walked 2 km back to the hotel in raging heat and traffic

Tomorrow we drive to Pune and we will be almost to Naveen! Leslie is so excited!

PART 2

Day 3b Busy Night

Forgot to mention that today we also:

-wore a salwar inside out on the streets of Mumbai

-got blessed by a Hare Krishna


After two hours rest from our Busy Day, we:

-walked out to C.S.T. In search of a certain someone's obsession: Puran Puri

-went into a drug store in search of a certain someone's obsession: Puran Puri

-became as proficient as an Indian at saying Puran Puri

-were told the drug store didn't have Puran Puri, but would get it no problem, Ma'm, sit, sit. One minute it will come.

-sat in a drugstore waiting for Puran Puri

-drank tea in the drugstore

-practiced English with a shy 14 year old named Vaishali

-got the Puran Puri, fresh made Madam (not really)

-bought cookies and a candy bar and a can of Rossogulla from the drugstore

-practice more English with the now-brave Vaishali and her friend

-ate potato vada FROM A STREET STAND

-drew a crowd eating potato vada from a street stand

-got our picture taken eating potato vada from a street stand by a nice older man who must've thought we were darling

-got our picture taken with two shy teenagers who watched us eat potato vada from the street stand

-crossed many BUSY roads during rush hour

-Went inside CST during rush hour to watch people get on the train

-found our way back to the hotel

-took a cab to Crawford Market

-bought a mango

-petted a puppy

-directed a cab all the way back to our hotel (I am so GOOD at this!)

-ate at our favorite restaurant in the Paneer Theme: Paneer Pulau, Paneer Pav Bhaji, and Paneer Tikka Masala and some bad gulab jamun

-ate our whole dinner with our hands ("it tastes better when you eat with your hands")

-crashed into bed

-overcame our fear of India

The end.

--

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Touring Mumbai

I don't even know where to begin. Yesterday was a fabulous day. But before I start, I want to explain something first. We've  had some wonderful friends bless us with some money for our adoption and the last thing I want is anyone to think that I'm here in India traveling high on the hog and wasting money. Having said that, we did go on a tour yesterday. But I promise that any money that was given to us went toward the flight or is going toward the hotel. And the hotel in Mumbai is really cheap, about $15 a night and we're eating two meals a day, so I promise we're being really frugal. But we did do a tour yesterday and I'm so glad we did because we saw so much that we never would have seen  on our own, and we learned so much history that we would never have learned on our own. It was well worth it.  Well worth it!

We booked with a company called Mumbai Moments.  Sandwich found them on Trip Advisor. They had excellent reviews and it's a small company started buy this guy named Amish. He's super friendly and energetic and was really prompt in returning our emails, so we thought "why not"? This would give us a good chance to explore and learn more about the country our children came from (Sandwich has two kids adopted from India).

So, to make a long story short (because otherwise I will ramble on and on and I'm already behind on my blog), we met with them on Monday and had a full day tour of Mumbai. Amish arranged for us to have a woman tour guide, Manik, and she was fantastic. She took us all around and we got to see the Gandhi Museum, the Hanging Gardens, a children's park, St Paul's Cathedral, university of Mumbai, Victoria Train Station (now called CST), the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Chowpatty Beach (which we'd already seen), the Queen's Necklace, the Parsi Tower of Silence ( we couldn't go in, but we saw where it was and got a great history lesson), and the Dobhi Ghats (where they do all the laundry). We also had a HUGE Thali lunch in the Churchgate area and Amish took me for a ride on the back of his motorbike. It was brilliant!  Later on, after the tour ended, we walked down to the Colabra area and did some sightseeing and people watching.

I know this blog post is boring, but my battery's about to die and I won't be able to charge it until later tonight. So I'm just going to do some quick bullet points about  the highlights of the day: 

1. Do you know the history of the Hanging Gardens? It used to be a small lake situated next to the Parsi Tower of Silence. See, the Parsis are nature lovers and they don't want to pollute the earth by burying their dead or pollute the air with cremation. So they give back to nature by letting the birds eat the bodies. Kinda gross and poetic at the same time.  Anyway, the vultures kept dropping bits of flesh into the water and polluting it, so the British filled it up, kept water tanks below and turned it into a garden. It's a gorgeous place with a fascinating history. When you visit the Hanging Gardens you can see the vultures circling overhead next door.

2. Mumbai is such a beautiful city! The architecture here is amazing. I'm a huge history buff and it's been fun imagining what some of the buildings looked like in their glory days.

3. I might be getting this bit of history wrong - there was a lot to digest - but we were able to see the gorgeous Taj Hotel across from India Gate. It was built by Mr Tata, who was Indian and who was refused entry into the prestigious Wilson Hotel because he was Indian, so he built the grand Taj Hotel. Later on, he actually bought the Wilson Hotel. ha! I love that!! 

Incidentally, the Taj Hotel is the site of one of the Mumbai Terrorist attacks in 2008. You can see where the attacks happened in the hotel  because the windows have been replaced with stained glass.

The hotel is gorgeous, but we'll never be staying there. They said rooms start around $600 a night!

4. I was very curious about the ladies who sit on the side of the street making balls of something or other with a cow standing near them. It turns out that you can pay the ladies 5 rupees for a ball of "feed" and/or 5 rupees for a bunch of grass and feed it to the cow. There's some sort of religious significance to this, but I wasn't paying attention b/c I was too excited about getting to feed a cow.  Typical tourist, right?

Anyway, I paid the lady 10 rupees and fed the cow. Then Manik, our guide, explained that it's good luck if the cow licks your hand, so I tried and tried to get the cow to lick me, but she wouldn't oblige. I'm sure she was thinking, "Yeah right, sister. I'm not wasting my time on you. I know you don't think I'm holy." I tried explaining to her that my daughter's name means "holy cow", but she just ignored me and continued swatting at flies with her tail. 

Then, and this was my favorite part, she (the cow's a girl and her name is Gouri) started peeing and her owner jumped up and collected it in a pan and then transferred into a Sprite bottle.

And THAT, folks, is why you always check to make sure the seal is intact before you buy a bottled drink in India.

Kidding! I'm so kidding!

Anyway, it turns out that cow urine has many uses in the Hindu religion, and some people will buy the urine to sprinkle on their loved ones before they're buried. I think it's considered holy.

Now tell me I'd have learned that on my own without a tour.

4. Indian Thali is kind of the equivalent of a potluck lunch at a a big family reunion. You put a little bit of everything on your plate, and then you have to unbutton the top of your jeans and pop a couple of Tums afterwards.

Maybe that's why the punjabi pants come with drawstring pants. It's easier to to let the waist out a bit after a huge Thali meal. ;)

Part of our tour included lunch, and let me say, it was the best meal so far. We would never have had the opportunity to try all that food otherwise. I would've just stuck to my beloved Panner Muttar/Butter/Tikka Masalas. And now I have a new favorite...Puran Pani. It's special to the state of Maharastra and is round and flat like a chapati (the closet equivalent we have to chipatis in the States is a tortilla and that's really more like a sixth cousin's brother in law's uncle by marriage twice removed).  Anyway, it's kinda sweet and we were told it's made of beans, but I refuse to believe that anything made with beans could taste that could, so I'm waiting for someone to give me the correct answer.

5. Oops, I have to cut this short. It seems I don't know how to condense my thoughts after all. My battery is about to die. But I have to say that if you're in Mumbai, you HAVE to book a motorbike tour with Mumbai Moments. They're just about to launch it, but Amish gave me a sneak peek. Riding on the back of a motorbike through downtown Mumbai?? Best thing ever! I had a blast.  I highly recommend it!

Okay, it's almost 8 in the morning. We're headed to breakfast (masala dosa for me) and then we're leaving for our next stop at 9. It'll take 4-6 hours to reach it, but by this afternoon I'll be in the same town as Naveen! We get to meet tomorrow. I can just cry thinking about it. I'm a mess of emotions right now.

One more sleep!

PS. I'm so sorry if I messed on explaining some of the history or religious stuff. Please feel free to correct me if needed. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Tips

More tips

1. Canvas or reusable shopping bag to hold your loot. Makes you look like less of a tourist and you can stuff your water bottle in it, too.  Nobody really bothers you if you're empty handed, but as soon as you step out of a shop with a couple of plastic bags under your arm, people know you've got money and you're willing to spend it. 

2. This one is kind of petty, but you might want to bring a  reusable  water bottle. You can buy  water and fill up your own bottle in your hotel room. It's smaller to stuff in your bag and makes you look less like a tourist. Of course, that sort of thing might not bother you bc, after all, you are a tourist, but tourists can be easy targets.

3. If it's your time of the month, bring all your stuff with you. You can't rely on being able to get the same kind here.

4. Bring a prescription antibiotic with you just in case. You never know when you might get a case of the runs or an insect bite that gets infected. See below. 

5. Bring triple antibiotic cream with you just in case. You never know when a spider's gonna bite your butt  on your first night there and cause an infection. 

6. Ear plugs if you're a light sleeper.

7. Some sort of electronic device with email/Internet capabilities. I nearly didn't bring our iPad bc I thought I could rely on Internet cafes,  but I'm so glad I brought it. It certainly  comes in handy in keeping up with family and passing the time if you can't fall asleep (I'm writing this at 12:30am) or wake up at 4 in the morning and nothing's open until 8 or 9.

8. A cheap watch. I don't wear a watch and rely on my phone to tell me the time, but I didn't bring it with me. I borrowed Nandi's watch instead. I'm so glad I did bc it's come in handy several times.

9. Don't forget Rubberbands for your hair. Even if you wear your hair down at home, there will be times when you just want to get it off your neck.

10. Okay, I can't believe I'm writing this last one and I'm just gonna go ahead and say it before I change my mind...

If you've never been to India before - or even if you have but you don't eat Indian food for every meal, then one of three things will happen. You'll either get diarrhea, you'll end up constipated, or you'll be just fine. And if that's the case then I really don't want to hear it. Oh,  and by the way, can your colon call my colon and tell it how to properly behave? Thanks!

Therefore, I think it'd be a really good idea to being a small tube of hemorrhoid cream with you. Because if you get a touch of the ol' Delhi Belly then you'll need something a bit smoothing.  And if you get constipated and it takes five days to go, then I guarantee you'll need something a bit smoothing. So spending 3 bucks on a tube of hemorrhoid cream is something to think about. And if you don't end up needing it, then you can always use it to get rid of the puffy bags under your eyes.

Or so I've been told.

Okay, that's all for now. I still need to blog the adventures from today, ( we had a FANTASTIC day), but I'll save it for later. I'm going to attempt to get some sleep.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tips

Tips

We're just hanging out right now for another hour or so and then we'll be meeting someone who's going to take us around Mumbai for the day. Anyway, I thought I'd take a few moments to jot down some things that might help other families who'll be traveling soon.

1. Take flip flops with you. And not necessarily the ones you'll be wearing with you.  You're not taking tennis shoes are you? Okay, so I don't wear tennis shoes in my everyday life, but I can't imagine taking them to India. Unless you're trekking or something. But I think a good pair of hiking sandals would do the trick.

Unless you're staying in a nice hotel, you don't know what kind of shower you'll have. It might be a bucket bath (just a low faucet with a big bucket for you to fill up and wash with) or you might just have a simple shower head next to the toilet. If that's the case, water will get everywhere and the floor will be sopping. So you'll need a pair of flip flops to slip on whenever you need the bathroom.

2. Take sandals with you. If you plan to do any sight seeing, you never know if you'll have to take your shoes off when you go inside a place. Taking off socks and shoes all the time and then having to put them back on will get a bit cumbersome.  

3. Bring toilet paper or travel size packs of kleenex - or both.  First of all, the rolls of tp in the hotels are small. And scratchy. And if you run out, chances are the hotel will have to go to the store to get some. And what if the store isn't open? And trust me, you don't want to be in a position where you're desperate for tp and you can't get any. TRUST me! So chucking a roll or two your bag isn't a bad idea. And packs of Kleenex come in handy for road side toilet emergencies.

4. Bring a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer. It goes without saying.

5. Bring a flat bed sheet  - if you have room. The place we're staying at has a fitted sheet and a throw blanket. That flat sheet I brought with me is coming in mighty handy. 

6. Bring sunglasses. If you wear sunglasses at home, you'll want to wear them here, too. The sun's the sun, right? And it gets pretty hot here. Plus, as a woman, I think it helps you avoid unwanted eye contact. Regardless of how it sounds, if you have fair skin, hair, or eyes, you'll probably draw attention. And sunglasses help me feel a little bit incognito. Plus, did I already mention how blazing hot it is?

7. Bring a long light scarf with you. Okay, I know, I know. If you read my rant the other day, you know how I feel about scarves. But for me, draping them across my chest and over my shoulders makes me feel better. It keeps  people from staring at your chest and I find that a lot of people appreciate the modesty. I keep seeing a lot of tourists in shorts, short dresses, and spaghetti straps, and I don't care, I think it's wrong.  I see more and more young Indian girls wear short skirts, but the majority don't. And maybe I'm starting to show my age, but when you travel, you represent your country. And don't we already have enough people thinking that all American women are a bunch of hussies? If you want to wear shorts and tube tops, go somewhere else. Yes, it's hot. But suck it up!

I'm sure I'll come up with other tips, but for now I've got to run.  Long day ahead!













Things You Should Know

First of all, let me apologize for the format of my blog posts. They're all running together and I know that makes it difficult to read. 

Second, I am bone tired. Bone Tired. I might fall asleep while writing this.

Third, I suffer from an incurable disease that I contracted here in India. It's called "I want to pick up and hug and squeeze all the children I see". I have a feeling this disease is going to get me in a lot of trouble. I'll have to exercise extreme restraint in order to keep my hands to myself.

Fourth, I also suffer from " I love Paneer Muttar Masala so much that I don't want to try anything else".

Fifth, the hostel/ hotel we're staying in is not so bad after all. It's sparse...a bed, a toilet, and a small TV. It's perfect for staying in and is a ten minute walk to all the sights. It's a bit like a dorm room.  There's a great, cheap vegetarian restaurant about 3 minutes away and we can walk everywhere. 

And speaking of walking everywhere, the sixth and final thing you should know is that I lost my weenie. Yes sir, I'm no  longer a weenie! My butt still hurts, but, by golly, my weenie-ness has disappeared. (I may even branch out and order Panner Butter Masala instead of  Paneer Muttar Masala  tomorrow. Whoo hoo. Go brave girl, go!"

I think one good thing about our hotel being so sparse (there's not a restaurant or anything in it), is that it would be mighty depressing to just sit here all day. Plus, I love my food and since there's no room service, I'm being forced to go out. I was a little nervous, but I got into a groove. We walked all over the place. We saw the Indian train station, which used to be Victoria train station. The architecture was AMAZING.  There are some incredible buildings in Mumbai...it blows me away. We did a lot of just wandering here and there, and then later on, we went to Chowpatty Beach. We got a lot of stares there. So many in fact that I was beginning to wonder if it was off limits to tourists. I didn't notice half as many stares just wondering around, but it was really apparent at the beach.  

It's a pretty cool place. The breeze from the bay was so nice ( it's been in the mid-nineties here), and lots of families were milling around. Kids were making sand castles, and people were playing games of cricket and having picnics.  There were lots of food stands and we bought some cotton candy from a little boy who must've been about nine. There was also a small slum colony right on the edge of the beach.  There were people walking around selling balloons, but one of the little boys from the slums grabbed a small trash bag from a trash pile and blew it up to make his own balloon. Your immediate reaction is to feel sorry for the kids, but they take it all in stride. I mean, they're growing up with the beach as their playground.  It's hard to know what to feel. I guess I'm just too tired to be introspective tonight. 

I'm sure at some point there'll be a good ol' philosophical blog post about India, but not now. I'll tell you what, though. I sure do love it here. I think India gets in your skin and your blood. It has the ability to challenge every belief system you ever had.  It has the ability to be the most beautiful place and the most ugly place at the same time. It's a country full of extremes. I alway leave a part of my heart here when I go.

Okay, so that's enough rattling for today. We've got a full day of sightseeing tomorrow. I'm really excited about it, but definitely need a good night's sleep for tomorrow.  Only three more sleeps until I get to meet Naveen! I really enjoyed just walking around Mumbai today, but not a second goes by that I don't think about my little boy.  I'm beyond excited.

Will write more tomorrow night. Maybe I'll even figure out how to,load pictures!

Guten Nacht!














We Made It!

First of all, let me apologize for the format of my blog posts. They're all running together and I know that makes it difficult to read. 

Second, I am bone tired. Bone Tired. I might fall asleep while writing this.

Third, I suffer from an incurable disease that I contracted here in India. It's called "I want to pick up and hug and squeeze all the children I see". I have a feeling this disease is going to get me in a lot of trouble. I'll have to exercise extreme restraint in order to keep my hands to myself.

Fourth, I also suffer from " I love Paneer Muttar Masala so much that I don't want to try anything else".

Fifth, the hostel/ hotel we're staying in is not so bad after all. It's sparse...a bed, a toilet, and a small TV. It's perfect for staying in and is a ten minute walk to all the sights. It's a bit like a dorm room.  There's a great, cheap vegetarian restaurant about 3 minutes away and we can walk everywhere. 

And speaking of walking everywhere, the sixth and final thing you should know is that I lost my weenie. Yes sir, I'm no  longer a weenie! My butt still hurts, but, by golly, my weenie-ness has disappeared. (I may even branch out and order Panner Butter Masala instead of  Paneer Muttar Masala  tomorrow. Whoo hoo. Go brave girl, go!"

I think one good thing about our hotel being so sparse (there's not a restaurant or anything in it), is that it would be mighty depressing to just sit here all day. Plus, I love my food and since there's no room service, I'm being forced to go out. I was a little nervous, but I got into a groove. We walked all over the place. We saw the Indian train station, which used to be Victoria train station. The architecture was AMAZING.  There are some incredible buildings in Mumbai...it blows me away. We did a lot of just wandering here and there, and then later on, we went to Chowpatty Beach. We got a lot of stares there. So many in fact that I was beginning to wonder if it was off limits to tourists. I didn't notice half as many stares just wondering around, but it was really apparent at the beach.  

It's a pretty cool place. The breeze from the bay was so nice ( it's been in the mid-nineties here), and lots of families were milling around. Kids were making sand castles, and people were playing games of cricket and having picnics.  There were lots of food stands and we bought some cotton candy from a little boy who must've been about nine. There was also a small slum colony right on the edge of the beach.  There were people walking around selling balloons, but one of the little boys from the slums grabbed a small trash bag from a trash pile and blew it up to make his own balloon. Your immediate reaction is to feel sorry for the kids, but they take it all in stride. I mean, they're growing up with the beach as their playground.  It's hard to know what to feel. I guess I'm just too tired to be introspective tonight. 

I'm sure at some point there'll be a good ol' philosophical blog post about India, but not now. I'll tell you what, though. I sure do love it here. I think India gets in your skin and your blood. It has the ability to challenge every belief system you ever had.  It has the ability to be the most beautiful place and the most ugly place at the same time. It's a country full of extremes. I alway leave a part of my heart here when I go.

Okay, so that's enough rattling for today. We've got a full day of sightseeing tomorrow. I'm really excited about it, but definitely need a good night's sleep for tomorrow.  Only three more sleeps until I get to meet Naveen! I really enjoyed just walking around Mumbai today, but not a second goes by that I don't think about my little boy.  I'm beyond excited.

Will write more tomorrow night. Maybe I'll even figure out how to,load pictures!

Guten Nacht!














Saturday, February 18, 2012

Travel Highlights - Air Emirates

Greetings from Dubai! I thought about being really clever and saying hello in Arabic, but since I don't know any Arabic, I had to resort to "greetings". Whoops, never mind. It turns out that my travel buddies, Sandwich and her daughter, Daisy, know the answer... those home schoolers, they know everything. Salaam from Dubai!!! We're here for a four hour layover and then it's on to Mumbai. After a fourteen hour flight it feels good to stretch our legs, drink a $10 cup of coffee and contemplate whether or not to buy a hookah pipe on our return flight. Although I also have my eye on a magic genie lamp in the airport gift shop. If I get three wishes, one of them will be that our 16 hour return flight to Dallas be magically transformed into a 2 hour one. I think it might take days for the swelling in my knees to go down. Speaking of the flight, let me just say that Air Emirates rocks! Oh my gosh, please do me a favor and book a flight to India just so you can try out this airlines. Their inflight entertainment is AMAZING. Omigosh, we had over 1200 movies and tv shows to choose from. And don't get me started on the music they had available. I got to listen to complete albums of artists I haven't listened to in ages... Pulp, Queen, David Bowie. Y'all they even had Miranda Lambert's newest cd on there. East Texas shout out! I also got to watch movies.... complete movies that I never got to see in the theatre because the only movies we ever go and see anymore are rated G or have the words Disney, Pixar, or Chipmunks in the title. And I watched two Bollywood films. One was called Mere something something something... I think the English name was My Brother's Bride, and I loved it. The second was called Bodyguard and it was, I think, the highest grossing film in India last year, but I just didn't like it. Too much preening and muscle flexing. I'm just not a big Salman Khan fan. You know, I think I just got put on a couple of hit lists for that little fact. Anyway, the flight was great. The food was awesome. Salmon, pizza, chocolate (if you pay 1500 dollars on a flight, there'd better be chocolate!), hash browns, eggs. Man, it's a shame when a woman has to commit to an overseas adoption just so she can have a nice place of salmon and watch a rated R movie. Regarding Dubai, I'm only getting to see the airport, but it seems pretty nice. My SIL lived here for years and I regret not coming to visit. I think it'd be so cool to visit that indoor snow skiing place in the middle of the desert. Okay, I only have a few more minutes before my fingers fall off. I did buy one of those Bluetooth keyboards to make typing easier, but the battery only lasted about 5 minutes, so I'm having to overcome my fear of typing on a touch pad. Anyway, I'm amazed at how tacky some of the women tourists are dressed. I've already spotted four girls with tank tops and no bras, two women with leggings and short t-shirts ( it's so classy when everyone behind you can tell you're wearing a thong, dontcha think, and one woman with a half shirt and low slung sweats with "juicy" written on the butt. Thanks for giving all us Western women a bad name, ladies. I think it's really important to always be respectful of local customs. Okay, that's my little rant for the day. Will hopefully write more from Mumbai. Adios! Or whatever. ;)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ind*a or Bust!






I thought I'd give everyone an update on Naveen's adoption, because if you're like me and you're currently in the process to adopt from Ind*a, you are also currently stalking every single Ind*a adoption blog that you can find.

And I can assure you that if you're currently adopting from Ind*a, then I'm currently stalking your blog, too.

We can be adoption stalkers together!

So, here's my big, mega update post on Naveen's adoption.

1. NAME CHANGE

I can't mention Naveen's birth name on here just yet, but when we started the adoption process a year ago, we decided to keep his birth name as his middle name and give him a new Indian name for his first name. Sim has really regretted not keeping Noah's birth name "Partha" as his first name.  Eli's name is actually Elias, and is Spanish for Elijah, and, of course, we kept Nandini's birth name and can't imagine her as anything other than Nandi.

So, we went back and forth and finally settled on Naveen. Partly because I like the actor, Naveen Andrews, but also because both Sim and I spent time with the most adorable little boy at Sarah's Covenant Homes, whose name is Naveen. Plus, we just really loved it.

Well, fast forward 11 months later and Sim suddenly announces that he wants to call Naveen "Ian". Say what? You can't just pull a switcheroo like that. But after a lot of talking and stalling and debating and all, we decided to name Naveen, "Ian Naveen (birthname) (last name)" and call him Naveen.  But he'll always be able to use his first name if he wants a more Western name.

I just wanted to explain all that because you might hear me refer to Naveen as just "Naveen" or you might hear me refer to him as "Ian Naveen".  But I'm still referring to the same adorable little boy.

2. COURT DATE (AKA - WE'RE LEAVING THIS WEEK!)


Excuse me while I pinch myself because I still can't believe that I get to see my little boy next week!

If you'll remember, Ind*a changed their adoption laws over the summer and now the region we're adopting from is requiring two trips. We'll get to spend a couple of hours with Naveen and then go to court the next day (and, really, what does one wear to court in Ind*a? It's so trivial, but I'm freaking out over here) and then we'll head back to the orphanage that afternoon to spend a couple more hours with him, and then a bunch of people are going to have to carry me out on a stretcher because I'll probably collapse in a heap of tears at the thought of leaving him for two more months.  And Sandwich, my travel buddy, will have to revive me by waving bars of Toblerone under my nose and promise me that we can have one last meal of Paneer Muttar Masal before we leave.

It might work, but then again, it might not.

Anyway, I'm beyond nervous about the court date (Will Naveen scream the whole time? Push me away? Will he wrap his little arms and legs around me and lay his head on my shoulder?), but I'm trying not to think about it. All I can think/dream/breath right now is that I get to see him in 11 days. But because Ind*a is actually a day ahead, it's really only 10 days. And because I lose almost 2 days in travel time, it's really only about 8 days. Or so I tell myself.

3. TRAVELLING


I'm really paranoid about giving exact dates, hotel stays, blah blah blah before it happens, but I can say that we're leaving next Friday and arriving in Mumbai for Sunday. We'll leave the following Saturday night, which gives us about one week in India. The reason we're going for a week, when we only need to be there for 2 days is because it just seemed really ridiculous to spend all that money on a plane ticket (about $1500) and risk that jet lag for only 2 days. So, we're spending a couple of days in Mumbai, just hanging out and eating as much paneer as I can muster, and then we'll hire a driver to take us to the orphanage (in another city). We'll be there for three days and then head back to Mumbai to fly out.

When we get back, I'll let you know where we stayed and what we thought of it because I know there are a lot of you that will be following the same itinerary when you get your court approval. But I will say that we're doing some extreme budget hotels in Mumbai and I've already got my flat sheets and toilet paper packed.

I never thought of myself as adventurous... until I booked a hotel that starts at 15 bucks a night...

4.  ADOPTION TIMELINE


If you're adopting, then I apologize for the warble you just had to endure in order to get to what you really want to know... our adoption timeline.

I think our timeline is going to be obsolete really soon, especially with the new rules that went into place with C*RA at the beginning of the year, but you never know. So here it is...



WC Match 3/9/11
 Homestudy completed 4/13/11
I-800A submitted 5/9/11
Dossier submitted 5/13/11
Acceptance Papers submitted 5/17/11
Fingerprints for I-800A 6/3/11 but had to reschedule b/c husband was out of the country
2nd Fingerprint Date for I-800A 06/28/11
I-800A approved on 7/16/11 and arrived in mail on 7/20/11
I-800 submitted 08/02/2011
I-800 approved 08/30/11 and received in mail on 9/3/11
DS230 submitted 9/6/11
Article 5 received 09/16/2011
NOC 01/09/12
Received phone call about 1st visit (for court) 01/26/12
Court date (appear in person) week of February the 20th

5. BLOGGING WHILE IN INDIA


I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to update while I'm gone. I'm taking the iPad and anyone who knows me knows that I can't stand to type more than one or two sentences on it. My thumbs just can't get the hang of it and it takes me ages to hunt and peck out a single word.  So, if I can get to an Internet Cafe then I'll definitely update, as I know my mom is going to be glued to the computer unless she gets an update each morning.

6. PLEASE PRAY FOR SIM AND THE KIDS


If you remember, will you please pray for Sim and the kids while I'm gone. Ind*a would prefer both parents travel, but it would be too expensive for us to get another ticket, plus it's very difficult (with our family dynamic and issues) to  find anyone who could watch the kids for a week.  I would have loved for Sim to go instead of me, but he doesn't have his US citizenship yet, so he can't fill out  the paperwork at the US Embassy in Delhi. The entire adoption had to be under my name.

Sim is a fantastic father, so I know he'll do great, but Eli is who I'm really worried about. He has a lot of issues with anxiety and is already in hysterics about me leaving. He had a rough time when I went to SCH two years ago and we're all bracing ourselves for a repeat.  Nandi and Noah seem to be handling it pretty well. Noah told me that he's s-o e-x-c-i-t-e-d to have another little brother and Nandi can't wait to have a little brother to baby. She's such a mother hen.  But Eli is my biggest concern. His second grade class is doing a musical called "American Tears" about 9/11 and he's terrified of me getting on a plane.  If you remember, would you please pray that he finds peace while I'm gone? Thanks!

Okay, so that's our huge, big, mega India update. So much to do. So little time. And so incredibly excited!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Things That Get On My Nerves

I know I've only posted one blog post in the last six weeks... and here I come on with a rant (well, not a rant. More like an online therapy session), so if hearing me complain for the next ten minutes isn't your cup of tea, I apologize.

I'm pretty non confrontational and will go out of my way to avoid conflict, but there's a couple of things that have been on my mind for awhile and I thought I'd give Sim's ears a rest. So here we go...

Things That Get On My Nerves

1. People wearing scarves with tank tops.




Now, Jennifer Anist*n could give a hill of beans what I think about her wardrobe and I normally think she's spot on, but really? What drives this fashion choice? I thought maybe it was just a California thing, and you know, maybe I can kinda understand because the weather near the coast is a bit temperamental and you never know when you might get a gust of wind and need to wrap a scarf around your shoulders. But now I'm seeing people doing it in Texas. TEXAS, people. Texas!

It fascinates me. I mean, do people wake up, yawn and stretch and say, "It's 95 degrees outside. Looks like I'm going to need a tank top and a scarf today."  If it's hot enough to wear a tank top, why would you drape a scarf around your neck? I don't know about you, but when temperatures start rising, the first thing I do is throw my hair in a ponytail and get my hair off my neck. The last thing I'd want is to wrap layers of material around my neck.

Which brings me to my next point. If you live in Texas and you walk around wearing a tank top and a scarf, honey, you're just trying too hard. I'm not saying everyone needs to adopt my standard dress code of jeans that haven't been washed in 5 days, flip flops, and stretched out tank top, but for the love of all that is hot and humid, quit wearing thick scarves when it's hot outside. You're making me sweat!

2. Billboards For Strip Clubs That Have Ugly women On Them.


Courtesy of franelle.net


I'm not about to post the actual billboard I'm talking about in case by a freak chance someone who reads this blog is actually related to one of these women... or heaven forbid, is one of these women, but anyone who drives to Dallas from Mesquite via 635W  must surely know which billboard I'm referring to....

Okay, look. I'm not an expert on strippers. I hear they make good money and all and are probably really nice people. No judgement here.  And I'm totally going to see that Magic Mike movie when it comes out because my crush on Matt Bomer knows no bounds... but I think it's safe to say that except for that one time in New Orleans and KK's 19th birthday at Chippendales (where I was so embarrassed that I hid my face behind my hands the entire time) that I've never stepped foot inside a strip club.  But if I did, I'd want to make sure the women were pretty good looking.

Although maybe I'd hope they were skanky and had sagging boobs and lots of cellulite so that I could feel better about myself.... hmmmm....

But the point is, you use billboards to draw people into your business, right? So why, in Dallas, which seems to be a mecca of strip clubs, would you show two questionable women to advertise your place? I hate to think what kind of men would look at that and go, "Phwaaaar! I know what I'm doing on my lunch break!"

Let me break it down for you... the chick on the right side of the billboard has bleached hair and is chewing on her finger and looks like she comes complete with no fewer than 14 venereal diseases. And she has bad skin.  And I think she has eyeballs, but I'm not sure because they're completely rimmed in black eyeliner. And the girl on the left has black hair, but her bangs are bleached blond. What the what? She looks like a skunk with a bad dye job. Now, I'm thinking that maybe, possibly, probably not, but let's give her the benefit of the doubt, that look could've passed muster back in 1995, but in 2012?

It bothers me so much.  I have this fantasy of sneaking onto the billboard with a bucket of black paint and coloring that girl's hair in the middle of the night. And maybe putting some lipstick on the chick with VD because baby pink pearl lipstick just does nothing for her looks.

And while we're at, can Sar*h's Secret PLEASE change their billboard, too? I mean, granted it's funny, but every time I go to chop a cucumber, I imagine a little face on the end pleading with me to spare its life. I tell ya, that billboard has just about ruined cucumbers for me.

3. Eve Mendes

Because she's dating Ryan Gosling. Do I need another reason?

Ryan Gosling Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling hold hands as they make their way through Charles de Gaulle Airport with their luggage.

I hope that's not a tank top underneath that scarf ...


4. People Who Expect You to Pay for Their Adoptions



Courtesy of babyupforadoption.com


Look, this is our 4th adoption, so I know how expensive adoptions are. And let me tell you, we are not rich. 9 years of autism therapy has pretty much broke us. But we wanted to adopt one more time. And we knew it'd be a sacrifice. And we knew we'd have to borrow against retirement and put most of it on a credit card. And we knew that we might have to have some fundraisers. But we never, ever expected anyone to pay for our adoption.

Now, this is not geared towards any of my friends or anyone who reads this blog. But I've seen a disturbing trend lately where some people feel that, as Christians, we are obligated to help out with their adoption.

Let me tell you, I am the first to support adoption fundraisers. I will buy your T-shirt, bracelet, jewelry, coffee,  puzzle piece, you name it.  I love adoption and I love adoption fundraisers. But if you try to guilt trip me into donating towards your adoption by quoting Bible verses about how God demands I help you, then I'll turn and run away faster than you can say, "Show me the money!"

Also, nothing bothers me more than someone saying, "If you have extra money laying around, consider donating to our adoption so that we can continue this adoption debt free."  This a true one. I got that from someone. Excuse me? Maybe I'm just bitter because I don't have the balls to email everyone in my contact list with the audacity that they should help us complete a debt free adoption, but I think it's plain rude.

Plus, adoption is like a mortgage. You just kind of expect to be paying on it for the next 30 years.

Again, I'm not against adoption fundraisers... heck, where do you think I get all my T-shirts from? But please don't try to guilt trip me or bully me with Bible verses or I'm just gonna have to de-friend you.



5.  Bloggers Who Think Their Poop Don't Stink


Courtesy of jimbovard.com


I have a love/hate relationship with a certain set of bloggers. I find them fascinating because they always seems to have their act together and they take spectacular photos and they do things like knitting and making soap or goat milk lotion or candles. And they buy all organic food and they homeschool their kids (who all happen to be geniuses and reading on a 7th grade level at age 4). And they make stuff for dinner like quinoa salad with fresh asparagus, arugula, and radishes or something like that. And their kids actually eat it! And they never ever ever shop at big box stores and they proudly proclaim that a chicken nugget has never passed their kids mouths. And they never watch TV and their kids only play with wooden toys and they write in flowery prose that totally gets on my nerves and they never use words like totally, like, or you know.

You know?

And I can't help but think that it cannot be that perfect.  It can't, can it? And I know I should stop reading them, but in a weird way, reading those blogs and getting upset is a perfect justification for me to sit on the couch with a jar of Nutella and a spoon.

I'm a comfort eater, you know.

I think Sim wants to get one of those computer thingies that blocks certain websites and I'm certain he's going to load every blog on my google reader onto it and forever ban me from reading one more word about homemade granola.   But until then, I just can't turn away. I'm waiting for one of those bloggers to slip up one day and mention that they actually lounge around the house watching Vampire Diaries while gulping down Route 44's from Sonic all day long and screaming at their kids.

And then we'll be soul mates.

P.S. I hope you don't think I'm one of those bloggers who thinks her poop don't stink. Because I can assure you, it does.

Whew, I feel soooo better now. I'm normally not such a grouch, but I just had to get a few things off my chest.  Gosh, I love online therapy.

Next time, I'll do a list of things that rock my world. And I promise it won't be 6 more weeks until I post it!

Gotta run. PB&J. It's what's for dinner.  Or maybe chicken nuggets. I'll never tell.