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, April 30, 2012

Monday in Old and New Delhi - Per Sandwich

It's Monday, I think, in Delhi (OLD Delhi)

Our plane landed on schedule (half hour late since we took off late). Leslie, "Have I been to this new Delhi airport?" That's how fried she is. I told her yes, three days ago.

She took Naveen to the bathroom (surprise!) and by the time they met me, I had the bags on the trolley. Our driver was (still!) waiting for us and had NO English! He was um, a little scruffy-looking. Or maybe it was his 70s style shirt. This worried Leslie regarding the size of the car. (scruffy driver = small car?). Well, apparently it does. I knew he'd get it all in, but she was pretty worried. It all fit, lots of it on the seat next to her. The driver was offended that I put my seat belt on in the front seat. "Is not necessary, Madam" uh, thanks, but YOU'RE wearing yours, and in the front seat in India I wear mine. (in the back seat I go Indian style, without one) =:o

The drive was about 45 min. And Leslie dozed, but I can't close my eyes when I'm riding in India unless I'm ready to die from exhaustion. I love watching it way too much!

We arrived at the villa and were met by some porters who spoke very little English (but they were super at hoofing our 50+lb. suitcases up three flights!) and we were beginning to feel worried about this place, the ShamNath Villa.

It is beautiful with large rooms, high ceilings and marble floors, shuttered windows with wood trim and a VERANDA, very colonial, located in Old Delhi in Civil Lines. This was a colonial British area, back in the day.

But the outlets are odd and we couldn't plug anything in, the beds are Indian (like sleeping on a cement slab, Leslie said) and the Internet didn't work in the room, tho we were given the password and login at check-in. It was 11:30 and we felt a little panicked.

Nothing a little Melatonin and a hard-night's (literally) sleep can't fix tho.

In the morning we had masala tea and a nice chat with an Indian army major from Tamil Nadu, and then met our hostess at breakfast. Mrs. Shalini is so, so nice and extremely helpful. She was full of advice about Naveen (some helpful) and speaks excellent English. Hooray for English!

We had fresh juice, watermelon cut by Mrs. Shalini herself (I made Leslie eat it and I ate it too), poha and an Indian omelet. She talked to Naveen in Hindi, some of which he understood. Everyone wants him to come to them, but he sticks tight to Leslie. She did bring out some curd for him, and after adding some sugar to it, got him to chow down two bowls! He was asking for more while waiting for the second bowl.

Also at breakfast was a businessman from Sri Lanka, and when our Tamil major came down in his uniform, I eagerly waited to see their meeting. It was civil, the Sri Lankan more so, with the major vaguely superior, attitude-wise.
At the end of breakfast, Simeon called Leslie and while she was on the phone, Naveen made his usual whining signals for the bathroom, which often just means I don't like this situation, get me out. Only this time it was for real. And Aunty didn't have to clean it up this time. Leslie's plan had been for underwear this morning but she could find them, so resorted to the PullUps. Luckiest break EVER! Naveen, however, was VERY unhappy to have this in his diaper--he probably hasn't in ages--and he cried pitifully for a good 20 minutes even after he was changed and we told him it was ok, he was a good boy. Apparently, when he has to go, he has to go now. He can be dry forever though, and woke up dry this morning.

So after that little adventure, it was time for the car. Mrs. Shalini called a taxi for us (a nice cheap one with natural air conditioning) for only 550 Rs. Plus a 20 Rs. tip. She gave him the directions to the Dr., instructed him to wait and told him where to take us shopping afterward to look for a potty. Naveen is fine to pee on the western toilet, but we thought maybe he'd do better on a floor potty for pooping.

We drove 45 min. through the city, with only one traffic light beggar encounter, to the Max MedCentre. Here Naveen needed an exam in order to get his American visa in his Indian passport. It was the typical get in line, see a clerk, fill out papers, pay the bill, no we do not have change, I will bring. Go to another floor, wait, wait, wait. See the Dr. (he got a TB skin test), take these papers, go back to the first clerk, fill out more papers come back Wed. Yes, Madam, a different time is no problem.

We're scheduled to go back at 11 on Wed. But the Embassy is only open from 9-1:00, so we're going to come at 10 and hope it can be read early.

Another family from the US was there doing their medicals, which Leslie had known they would be (awkward grammar alert). Their 8 year old daughter is from Misram, east of Bangladesh, I think, and I think Leslie said she's the first child from that state to go to the US. A very sweet girl, she gave Naveen a piece of her gum, and another little boy (not adopting) shared his Chips with them both. Thinking back on it now, she (Bella) wouldn't interact with anyone while we all stood there talking, just buried her head in her mother each time anyone tried to engage her (didn't take her chip, even) and the only interaction she made was to come out and offer to Naveen. I wonder if, after observing everyone for the 20 min. or so, she realized he was in the same flippin' predicament she was and she reached out to him in commiseration. And with such a large gesture!

Naveen, naturally, did not enjoy the stick in his arm, but stopped crying fairly quickly. We met up again with Bella and her family downstairs and she was pretty wounded emotionally from the 4 shots she'd received. Poor little thing. They said she actually had a remarkable amount of English, which was good since she only speaks Miso ? And of course there is no one here who can communicate with her.

After the Dr. We went in search of the elusive potty. The driver took us to Khan Market, but everyone kept leading us white ladies to upscale toy stores, Benetton, or a bathroom. We finally gave up and went into McDonalds to get lunch. We bought the driver a sandwich (which hopefully he ate) He actually took very good care of us for being just a plain taxi driver, stayed nearby to keep an eye on us and chatted with another driver while we ate. I suppose if he lost us, he wouldn't get paid, would he? Inside, I approached a mom/English-speaking looking lady to ask our awkward question about the potty. She didn't know where to buy one. Apparently only hospitals and orphanages use the kind we want. I'm sure we are a complete puzzle to the Indian people, always carrying our own luggage, making our own beds, opening and closing our own car doors, and buying industrial potties. Probably the rich ladies buy fancy singing potties, and the poor ladies just hold the baby over a ditch. Nobody uses what we want. So we consoled ourselves with McDonalds.

Leslie got Naveen a chicken nugget Happy Meal. He dove right for the fries today, and drank the juice box, but fed the chicken nuggets to us (even I was offered one! He is going to MISS me!) --did I mention that he asks for me when I'm not there? I don't get to do much, but my presence is noted!


Leslie bought him an ice cream at McDs but he turned his nose up at it and his face away from it so she threw it out when we left. I bought myself one on the way out and was almost finished with it in the car, when the mister made a noise at me and opened up his little mouth like a bird. So what else does a good and delighted Aunty do but feed the rest of it to him. Made my day!

And now we're back here and L & N are hopefully napping, and I am charging (since we have no properly-sized outlets in our room) and typing, down in the common room. And since it is the middle of the night with you, hopefully you blog-junkies out there (you know who you are!) will have a couple of treats when you wake up!

This evening's entertainment will likely include finding a restaurant where we can eat (room service here is $10 per person! ) and possibly testing out the subway. Wish us luck!

Sandwich's Tips

Things to bring:

Melatonin tablets. I've always relied on benadryl before, but I seem to be building up a tolerance because even two don't keep me sleeping all night. I bought 5mg time release melatonin and tried them out at home. They make me sleepy within half an hour and I've slept all night.

Balls. I got the water soaker balls at Target in the dollar aisle. They have all sizes and shapes. They're soft for throwing inside.

Stickers for on the plane.

Nesting cups. They're so good for this age and can be used with water, too. We wish we'd brought some.

Extra camera battery. I have one, but it's not something you want to forget. I did forget to bring it along to BSSK and had to go back for it.

To buy: Leslie says you should buy a bucket and stool if your hotel doesn't have one. Naveen loves to pour with the cup and wash the stool over and over.

She also insists the steel cup is a great idea. Naveen certainly has loved his! (we do also have a sippy but he does great with the open cup.

Parle-G biscuits. 10 Rs. at any street grocery. Naveen loves them and is pretty much living off them. He hates Goldfish and animal crackers. (my boys loved anything, even the American stuff)

We might have to get a plastic potty for pooping. Nuff information.

To play with:

Empty water bottle bowling

Bath bucket and cup. Stool is optional, but cute.

Someone asked where we are staying. In Pune, we are at the Park Central e-Suites. ( not to be confused with the Central Park, which is swankier and farther away.)

We really like it here, but your mileage may vary if you are not comfortable in India.

The rooms are huge and clean. We have paid $61 & $72 for our rooms on the two trips. Indian breakfast buffet is included with idli and sambar every day and a variety of other selections including poha, upma, paratha, roti, pakoda, dosa, vada, curd (plain yogurt) and more. Eggs cooked any way, toast, croissants, corn flakes are also available. We don't eat the fresh cut fruit or drink the juice or milk, but it's there. We eat all the Indian things and have not been sick. There is also coffee and tea.

On this trip we ordered room service and that was excellent as well. I even ate the curd and cucumber raita. We've not been sick. We did not eat other raw veg or fruit except banana.

Reception speaks good English and is very helpful.

There is good Internet in the room (except for the blips we had this time, but that can happen anywhere.)

So the hotel is great. It is also very quiet- one of the quietest I've been in India. The neighborhood might be the biggest drawback if you are not comfortable here. It's real India, right outside the door. There is a cow that lives down the street and a clinic (the hotel receives more traffic) next door. They are burning something behind the clinic all the time. There is a water filling station at the end of the street and big tankers come in to fill (but I only noticed them this trip).

It's right at the entrance of Koregaon Park so easy to direct autos to. (Lane A, straight to the end, left and left again --follow the signs).

The Osho Ashram is in Koregaon Park and is world famous. Our Thursday lunch ladies told us it is all sex and drugs at the upper levels, which I hadn't known. It's not well thought of in the area and you see the devotees walking around in their maroon robes and lots of underdressed Westerners around. Prices are high because of the foreigners and the rickshaw drivers will often try to cheat you.

There is one musty room here on the first floor but we just asked for a different one and were moved.

Pune Central is just a few blocks away.

Sunday in Pune/ Delhi - Sandwich's Views


Slept til 6:00 and went into the bathroom to FaceTime the kids. When I came out, Leslie was awake. Naveen slept until 7:30.

We went down to breakfast and he asked to go potty 3 or 4 times. It's really the one thing he can control and communicate right now. Plus he's two and potty training. But it's exhausting! You couldn't pay me a million dollars to go back to those days! I'm so glad to be the Aunty!

He ate pretty well. He liked the upma, the dosa, and the chapati. Not the curd. He's kind of a carbohydrate boy.

While i wascdrinking my tea, leslie took him outsidevto walk. He liked that. After out tea, we headed upstairs.

He had a bath and played with the water, but not as long as yesterday. No poop on the floor (or anywhere).

Next they went outside again and did two laps around before he asked to come up. As soon as they were up, he asked to go back out, but Leslie was tired out so she told him no. What followed was a lesson in two-year old discipline. His very first! Awww!

He pointed at the door. She said no. He cried and pulled on her hand. She picked him up and held him. He asked to get down. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For 20 minutes or so.

Finally he threw himself on the bed and stopped crying while she rubbed his back. She was able to distract him with a book then. He's so smart about repeating things and after she told him a few times, he could say them himself.

Next we got naked again (well only he did) and played with the bucket et. al. again. I sat with him this time and Leslie packed. We put shampoo in for bubbles a change of pace and he washed the stool for a long time today. We threw in some extra cups we scratched up (the shoe shine kit, sponge ripped out and oil washed out).

I'm sure there's cute stuff I'm forgetting.

I needed to go to Pune Central to pick up some things for Molly and Leslie was hungry for McDonalds, so off we went in the auto. We went to Mickey Ds first in case Naveen didn't want to be out, but he did really well. We satisfied our McSpicy Paneer cravings and got some fries in case he wanted some, but he wouldn't try them at first. Leslie kept trying to feed him one, but he'd shake his head no. He just wanted his Parle-Gs.

He's getting comfortable enough that he can get down from her lap now and walk a few feet away. When he came back he reached the table he put his hand up and took one fry. He sucked it a little but didn't want to bite it.

Just as we pulled up, there was a little boy with a toddler sitting in the sun in the sidewalk in front of the mall. His face lit up and he got a huge grin when he saw us in the auto. Such a tiny businessman, recognizing opportunity when he sees it. They came up as I paid the driver and the boy put his hand on my arm and the baby on his hip did too (although it was actually a small toddler because it had been running around on the sidewalk. The boy put his fingers to his lips, Hungry and the baby did too. I said Nie because I never give to children and their syndicates (sometimes to old ladies or handicapped). He launched into his Please, Madam routine and as I put away my 40 Rs change, I remembered I had some coins I never use, so I gave him one.

I feel guilty if I don't give, because I have so much, and guilty if I give because you know they are working for someone and either don't need the money or don't ever see it. Their plea is that they're hungry, so do you buy them some food? Will they get beaten if they eat it? Is it condescending to give them your leftovers? Should a baby eat French Fries 10 times a day? I hate this part.

Next we autoed to Pune Central. Leslie sent me with money to the section I needed to go to, and she took Naveen to the food court for ice cream (which he liked). I knew exactly which things I needed as I'd taken pictures with my iPod Thursday and emailed them to Molly.

Leslie had flagged an auto but he wanted SIXTY Rs. To take us 2 blocks to our hotel. It should have been 20-30. He tried to argue that it was one way and there was no turn and we were standing in the hot sun with a tired baby, so we gave in.

When we got to the hotel TWO MINUTES later, I punished him by making him break a 100. Of course he didn't have change, so he came into the hotel to ask for some. They, of course, didn't have any either. So she took the 100, gave him 50, asked me to give him 10 (after she berated him for overcharging us when I told her how much we paid) and she promised to give leslie 50 later when she got change. Just now writing this, I asked Leslie if she ever got the 50 Rs. And she said No. So that auto ride actually cost us 110 Rs.

Leslie and Naveen went to the room to nap, which he did and she packed.

I on the other hand, set out in search of adventure. I went off walking through our neighborhood looking for interesting shops. Nothing. Being Sunday, all the sidewalk merchants were out on the main road, all selling the same things. Every stand had purses, wall hangings, shoes and used-looking clothes. After perusing the whole length of the street, I bought a purse for 200 Rs.

Next I found a chemist (pharmacy) and bought PullUps. With as well as Naveen is doing, and as OFTEN as he wants to go potty, it's too hard to take a diaper on and off every 20 min. So Leslie had wanted some PullUps.

A little further down was a small shop I'd seen on my way to McDonalds that was selling um...for the sake of first graders who can read in my household.. A toy with the same name as a hopping, singing insect. ;). Got one for Naveen, too.

I looked at tiffins at the next shop, but they all had razor sharp edges when you opened them an the we're difficult to put together. Not good for a 7 year old.

Next shop I got more Parle-Gs.

I grabbed an auto for only 20 !! Rs. And paid him 30 for being honest. He dropped me at the head of our lane and as I walked back to the hotel, I picked up a banana for 3Rs. Probably a rip-off. I could have had 2 for 5Rs.

Leslie was all packed. Naveen was sleeping. When he woke up, I took him in the bath for more water play. I am Water Aunty.

We lolled around waiting for 4:30. At 4:00, Leslie went down to ask the front desk something and our car was already waiting. She hustled downstairs to settle the bill and I quickly packed the rest of the stuff up.

The drivers eyes got big when he saw all our stuff. I think Leslie had said 2 bags, not taking into account our carry ons and Naveen's bags. But we are master packers, and we squeezed it in easily.

The driver was Nepali with very good English and told us all about where he's worked, how he came to Pune, his brothers and sisters (there are 6 plus him, A very large family, Madam.). I told him I had 5 children and he couldn't believe it, I'm so young! How do I manage so many? We talked about where else he wanted to work and the if faculty of getting a visa.

All this was in the 20 min. it took to the airport! At the airport I showed him a picture of my kids and he was pretty confused about the boys. I don't think he'd ever heard of adoption and he really couldn't fathom that my boys were from India. Finally he looked at Leslie and said, Same as yours? pointing at Naveen.

At the airport we went easily through check-in and security, but Naveen wore Leslie out. Naturally our flight was delayed and he came out of his shell. He decided he was finally hungry and he ravenously ate biscuits, one in each hand. He went to the potty every 7 minutes (not lying! Ask Leslie) dcz (Naveen just typed that), drank pani, went for a walk, ate Pringles, got on Leslie's lap, got down off Leslie's lap. He does not however, a) run away or b) scream, so for that we can be thankful. We also taught him to say please for Pringles and he already says "tahnk oo." Leslie's pretty sick of the false bathroom alarms, though.

I ate masala corn.

We decided it was really good that we took him out these several times and to Sarah and Jose's as he was much less nervous about going out with us and being around people when we had to go to the airport. He even talked to a lady when she came up and asked if Leslie was adopting him and Leslie told her he spoke Marathi. She asked him his name and he told her! Then she asked him about his Mommy and going to live in Texas, and he told her, waving his arm overhead, that he was going to fly there! He knows his story! He is absolutely incredible! And BSSK prepares them so well.

We boarded and left on time. No, they don't have child belts. He'll be fine. They got in late, so the cloths on the back of the seats aren't changed. There is hair on the seat's next to mine. I tore mine off and dropped it on the floor. I don't want head lice, thank you. There's someone's newspaper in my seat pocket and old headphones in Leslie's. No ones come to check that were wearing our seatbelts as we land, nor asked me to turn off my iPad. We're going to call it Don't Cair India. There WAS rasgulla for dessert.

So. Now we're all caught up. Hopefully our driver will have gotten the message that our flight is delayed and will still be there. Our Villa is 60 minutes from the airport. Naveen was very, very good on the flight. Leslie didn't tell him they have bathrooms.

Saturday in Pune - Sandwichs's Views

Pune, Saturday

Leslie did not sleep at all Friday night in bed with her little wiggle worm. I didn't take anything, plus I stayed up til 11:30 writing a blog post (if I don't write it out every day, it all swirls together with the jet lag in my head and becomes a blurry mess). I woke up at 2:00 and couldn't get back to sleep until 4:00. Fireworks at 6:00 woke us both up.

Not Naveen, tho. He finally crashed at 7:00 and slept straight through until 8:30! And he woke up happy as a lark. He and Mama played a little game on the iPad to wake up, then she got him dressed and we went down to breakfast. After eating nothing since lunch the day before, he was ravenous and ate idli, chapati (actually, it was paratha, I think) and poha. He didn't like the milk and he loved drinking the water out of the glass glass. No steel cups when you're in a fancy restaurant!

After breakfast, he stripped down and played with his bucket and cup in the bath for an hour. He poured water, washed his stool with a bath puff and refilled over and over. Near the end, I was out in the room and Leslie had come out for something when he rattled off a bunch off words in Marathi. She went in to see what he wanted a nd he did a little squat and pooped right on the floor! Which is what they do in the little toilet room at BSSK. Leslie started gagging and screaming (which is what I would have been doing if he had barfed!!!!) so I swooped in with the diaper he'd had on before his bath and dropped it into the toilet. A little wiping of the floor with the diaper and a lot of water poured on it towards the floor drain, then I dumped some shampoo on the spot and swished it with my foot. All done,

Next we bowled with the empty water bottles.

Next we tried all the toys.

Daddy called and he talked to Daddy on the phone. He says Noah, Nandu, Eli, Mommy, Daddy. It's so cute!

Next he got out all the snacks but wouldn't eat any.

Next he danced to Bollywood videos.

We ordered room service for lunch. Plain dal and rice for him (although we shared it), Paneer reshmi, curd (which he didn't eat but I did), roti. The food is very good and comes quickly (if you order it during room service hours!). The sauces served on things in restaurants seem to be all variations on a theme within each restaurant tho. At our Mumbai restaurant last trip, every sauce was heavily tomato based with different flavorings. Here they are all cream-based, flavored differently. Naveen didn't eat much, but Leslie and I are eating VERY well. Sigh.

Leslie was beginning to feel cooped up and wanted different shoes for him and underpants, so we caught an auto to Pune Central, the big department store across the street. We found shoes (tho they've since seemed to be too tight maybe) and had a long non-conversation with the non-English speaking teenaged floor clerk boys about underwear for boys. The had them for girls, and had some knit baby shorts that looked like pajama shorts, but once they finally understood we wanted underwear, no, for the baby, no not for girls, boys! They didn't have any. Where can we buy? I don't know, madam. MG Road perhaps. So we bought the pink flowered ones for girls. Also one tub of play dough, 30 Rs.

He didn't like the rickshaw, BTW, and wasn't crazy about shopping, but did ok. I'm sure it's frightening each time we go out, but it's part of the process, to see that we go out, we DON'T take him back to BSSK or give him away to anyone else, and then we come back to our same room and Mama is always there.

While at the store, a lady clerk put out her arms to him and he shook his head no and buried his face in Leslie's shoulder. He is doing SO well!

Thursday when we met up with Sarah and Roopa, Sarah had invited us to their house for Saturday. We left it in the air, not knowing how Naveen would do, but when he was so much better sat. morning, we agreed to come. You can only spend so many hours in a hotel room before everyone goes crazy!

Naveen, by now, had completely potty trained himself and was stripping off his pants and pointing, either to himself or the bathroom and grabbing Leslie by the hand to drag her there, every 30 min. M&Ms are a miracle! When he goes, he says "chocolate!"

The car should have come at 2:00 but didn't arrive until 2:30. In that time he went to the potty 3 times and back to the room for clothes charges twice (once from spilling a whole cup of pani on himself and the couch in the lobby and once because he overshot the toilet)

He fell asleep in the car immediately. The driver spoke excellent English as he comes from 4 generations of Seventh Day Adventists (his "great grandparents were converted, Praise God," he said). He keeps his Bible next to him in the front seat and was educated at the SDA college here in Pune. Arvind, his name is.

Leslie asked him to translate a word Naveen keeps saying, and Arvind paused a long time, then said, "It's slang." Leslie asked what it means and he answered, "It's just a slang word, Madam.". We talked about some other things, then abruptly, he said, "actually, it's a bad word.". Leslie asked again and he said he didn't know how to translate it to English. We talked more about other thing and again suddenly, he said, "It means to shame your mother.". We exclaimed a little bit, trying to figure out what exactly we were dealing with. And we laughed a lot.

Later, when he picked us up from Sarah and Jose's (it's pronounced joze, rhymes with Rose) the first thing when we got in the car, he said to us (must have been thinking about it all afternoon, this devout Christian man, how to explain this to these ladies!) "The word is a very bad one, madam, like the F-word."

Oh, Lordy. Leslie's been crooning to him, "Mommy's sweet little Mother******!".

So then we kept saying it, trying to be sure we had the right word and practicing it and laughing, until we imagined a bunch of foreigners in our car trying to pronounce MF. Then we let it go already!

So, our visit to Sarah and Jose. They are so nice! They have 5 kids and they are very American. Jose is from Kerala. He speaks some Hindi and a little Marathi, and the kids are taking Hindi lessons, but they mostly speak English.

They are the sweetest people with a great story! Sarah, Leslie and I talked about homeschooling (I met Sarah on the Sonlight Forums), adopting, parenting, being married--typical girl talk.

Naveen sat next to or on Leslie's lap the whole time and drank water and went to the bathroom. We had a tour of their house, which they own, and ate cake with custard and strawberries. Wonderful!

Her husband loves to garden and he grows tomatoes and persimmons on the roof and bananas (Naveen had one), plantains, coconuts, mangos, papayas, vanilla. He gave me a tour of their yard.

They also have one of those portable BBQ pits on their roof and for dinner they grilled chicken (killed that morning, much to Leslie's dismay. She likes to pretend her chicken is manufactured at the store!), a fresh salad and rolls. Everything was delicious.

As the afternoon wore on, Naveen got increasingly fussy. He was afraid of their dog and hadn't napped long. I'm sure he also didn't understand what we were doing there. He also didn't like for Jose to talk to him in Marathi.

By the end of dinner, which they graciously served a little early, Naveen was crabby, Leslie was really tired, and we were ready to go. We apologized for eating and running, but they were so understanding!

He fell asleep almost immediately in the car and Leslie dozed, so the driver and I had a good chat about driving in India and how many people can legally ride on a motorcycle. (2 or two parents and one child. I saw 3 men and he said in the villages there may be routinely 5! I also often saw two parents and 3 children )

When we got back, Leslie called Maina on the phone to see if he normally urinates so often and he also had been crying a little beforehand. She thought maybe he was getting a UTI. but Maina assured her this was normal for him, and he perked up as soon as we got back. They sang songs and read a book (he sings E-I-E-I-O so cute! I got it on video). After about 10 minutes, he rolled over and went to sleep!

He is just the best boy, and really, SO easy and laid back.

I fed Leslie a melatonin tablet and took one myself and we crashed. We do a lot of crashing!

What a day, but we're so proud of Naveen! He's responding to his name, repeating words Leslie says, telling when he needs the potty. He plays by himself, is curious and observant, and quite smart! He's just darling!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Seeing Naveen - Sandwich's Thoughts

FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2012

Friday, Pune--Meeting Naveen

It's late but I should blog or I'll forget everything.

We slept all night until we woke up at the same time--6:20. Still no Internet, which was good for all night sleeping!

Shower and then breakfast downstairs. They have the best breakfasts here!

We went out to our "Walmart" around the corner where yesterday we bought a razor for Leslie and parle-g biscuits in preparation for Naveen. Today we went in search of a bath bucket. The hotel only has a shower, no buckets. We bought the dustiest bucket, stool and cup you've ever seen along with a bag of milk.

We felt guilty sneaking our purchases into the hotel. We wondered what they'd think if they saw us bringing in a bucket and stool!

I went through Leslie's suitcase and reorganized everything in preparation for Naveen. We picked out an outfit and got his shoes and a diaper. She was too overwhelmed with nervousness to think straight and do any more.

We caught an autorickshaw and arrived at ****. Leslie went up to ****'s office for the "talk" and I was sent in with the big kids who were lined up for "prayers.". I'd never seen this before so it was really interesting to see this bit of their life. Naveen was brought in for this as it was a special day. He came right over to me and gave me a long stare before playing with my purse. They were telling him Mommy was there and obviously he didn't see her as she was upstairs, but I think he recognized me.

Next they put on shoes and we went out. He played mostly alone. I was given a big talk about not taking photos of children except for his album, so except for one instance before I got yelled at, all the photos have Naveen in them, for his album ;). Unless I was very surepticious. Too tired to fix that. Where's auto-correct when you really want it?

Anyway, he mostly played alone while we waited an hour for Leslie to come down.

He first wouldn't go to her but when all the others were in her lap, then he was all,"MY mommy!!"

He alternated really warm and huggy with stony moments. You could tell he KNEW this was something big today.

But he is very smiley, very loving, VERY bright. He watches everything and doesn't miss anything. Both his gross and fine motor are excellent! He can string little beads like anything! He definitely knew she was Mommy--he even pointed to her when someone asked where Mommy was. He's a great eater and feeds himself. He drinks water like crazy-they said he is always thirsty and it's good for his kidneys to drink a lot. He makes the cutest facial expressions and he's quite the imp. He tilts his little head and checks to see if you saw what he did, but he was able to be distracted when he got too naughty.

After lunch they went potty and then he played with Leslie a bit more. I stayed back all day taking pictures and talking to him from afar. I am "Aunty.". He loved the shoes I bought him. When she pulled them out, he stuck his foot right out for her to put them on!

He said no to a nap, but eventually someone drew him away and we had lunch upstairs. There s another family there who went to court for their daughter today.

After lunch, I took an auto (that's a rickshaw) back to the hotel all by myself as I'd or gotten the extra camera battery AND *****'s tshirt. I negotiated with two different drivers and then directed the winning driver down the wrong lane, then down the right lane and all the way to our hotel. I'm sure he thought I was an idiot, not knowing my lane. Anyway, I got him to WAIT for me while I ran in (pretty proud of that) and then take me back to ****.

I hung out in an empty room while Naveen napped and Leslie was getting his medical files.

After his nap he got changed into new clothes and had some milk. He'd been getting sadder and sadder as the day went on. We went to the school room for the ceremony and his face drooped more and more. At one point he was trying not to cry. I remember that very same look on Martands face the day we picked him up. It's heartbreaking!

All the kids came in for his ceremony. Two little boys from his class he met at the door and took their hand while he walked them to their seat. He is so sweet and they said he is very good with the younger children. He also had his picture with a big girl who was hanging around "helping" him all day.

They performed the blessing ceremony and gave him a dish of chocolates--like tootsie roll caramels--to hand out. Then we had to go up through all the offices to say god bye to the staff. I don't remember doing that. We both thought the day got really drawn out She also got a gold BSSK coin in a velvet bag. I'm sure I didn't get one of those!

Finally we went to the gate where the watchman blew his whistle to call an auto for us. In the auto, Naveen cried for the first time.

In the room, he played solemnly with some toys, and finding everything to be under control, I went out to the tailor to get my bag fixed again and the, ahem, inner seam of Leslie's bad market pants sewn up. 20 Rs. I also took some time to get connected in the lobby to the Net and send out my emails. There was a really angry German there demanding (in India! Just think!) to know EXACTLY WHEN the Internet would work in his room. I found out from him that it had been working until two days ago and let him know which connection was working. Actually, I'm pretty sure God shut it off just for us so we (read:Leslie) could sleep. It worked for the first two seconds we were in our room Thursday, and then it died.

So when I got back from my errands, Naveen was sobbing and pointing at the door to go out. Leslie was never so glad to see me. So, the scoop on this (and Leslie agrees) is that it's great that he's grieving now. She tried everything to distract him and comfort him, from toys to books to food to games and he just cried on. All she could provide after that was her presence and her love, which he accepts. He lets her hold him, he comes to her with his arms up (he really wants her to take him back but when she tells him sadly "No" he cries, but in her arms. ). We ordered some food for him that he wouldn't eat (rice and dal) but he did eat some of the gulab jamun ***** sent along. He loves his sweets!

He did let me pick him up and walk him a bit. He doesn't hate me at least. And he stopped crying for a minute when Crazy Aunty set up the empty water bottles and used his ball for bowling! I think leslie said he bit her once when I was gone, but other than that, I've only seen sadness, not real anger. I told her he reminds me of the way kids are when they are new at daycare. So I think he's going to be fine. She's so good with him!

She had bought him a steel cup like they are used to and let him drink his water from it at ****. **** predicted, rightly, that his would be his comfort item. He asked for it with "pani" water over and over. After 3 hours of crying, he lay down on the bed and let her pat him to sleep

Oh, and he went potty on the toilet when she put him on. He's so smart!

At 7:30 she and I ordered room service. The food is really good here, and not too expensive, when you consider the hassle of going out.

So, bedtime now. Hopefully I won't regret staying up to post this when our boy wakes up at 3am!

Thursday in Pune - Sandwich's Blog Post

Thursday, Pune

The domestic airport terminal is just as nice as the international, only upstairs. The whole thing has been running in the red, according to the news. They are going to beginning levying a usage fee for every transit through the airport: arriving, departing and transit through. Just a little political news for you.

We had an uneventful flight to Pune, in which we both slept some more and ate a nice Indian breakfast (still not as good as on Emirates, even tho this was Air India. Collected bags and the hotel driver was waiting for us with a little sign.

It's only a short drive from the airport to our hotel. They didn't have our room ready, so they put us in a temporary room. We showered (ahhhhh!) and changed and I unpacked Roopa's things.

When we tried to connect to the Internet, we found it was disconnected due to non-payment of bill, or so the Airtel website said. Bummer.

We walked to the restaurant (and only got a little lost). Good thing I had looked it up on the map before we left home! I have been so laid back and unorganized about this trip! It literally was the one thing I did to prepare. I didn't even email brad my flight info until I was in Dallas!

We were there about 20 min early so we ordered Masala tea which came in huge cups (yay!). First to arrive was Sarah and her husband, who I didn't even know were coming! She is also a homeschooler I've met once or twice online. Roopa had mentioned she might invite her, but Sarah lives an hour away so she hadn't been sure she'd come.

Anyway, they were super nice. Her husband only stayed long enough to make sure we were nice people, and then he left for an appointment. Roopa arrived shortly and we had the nicest time! The restaurant was Italian owned by Westerners of some sort(we didn't see any employees but Indians) and had a cafe-type menu with sandwiches, wraps, crepes, croissants. Leslie and I had crepes that came with an amazing alfredo sauce! We hung out there for THREE hours, talking!

Roopa is Indian, raised in America, married to an American. Sarah is American, married to an Indian and living here for 12 years. We talked about homeschooling, our kids, adoption (Sarah has adopted 4 kids and Roopa has 3 adopted siblings), the red-light districts and that trade (more horrible than you thought you knew), the abuse of women here, shopping, Jesus, living in India, --your typical female conversation!

When we finally wrapped it up, we took two rickshaws and went shopping! They took us to a huge mall (for India!). We shopped together for about an hour, then they had to leave us. We might go to Sarah's on Saturday as she invited us and we might meet up again with Roopa in Delhi, as they are headed there Friday.

Leslie and I caught a rickshaw with the help of a sweet Indian girl. The first three we tried on our own refused to use the meter (which Roopa said they should) and wanted to charge us 140 Rs. to the next place. The first rickshaw the girl tried saw it was for us and also refused the meter, saying he wouldn't do it for an Indian either. The next one she tried didn't see us and so agreed to 40Rs. Luckily, Roopa had emailed me places to shop, AND directions, so I was able to give the driver a landmark. Which was a hospital. Which s where he took us. And dropped us off.

The store (FabIndia) was right across a very busy street and we were able to find it. We tagged along with an older man to cross the street. (he kept looking at us as we sidiled up to him and once he realized what we were doing, he said, "use caution!" meaning "I am not responsible if you are killed!"

We didn't find anything at FabIndia and were out of there in 10 min.

Next we rickshawed to Lifestyle, where Leslie found a few things. This was a 4-story department store like Pune Central. Finally, we gave up there and ended up back at Pune Central and she found the rest of what she needed. She was shopping a huge list of things people had asked her to buy.

By now we were ready to collapse and it was 5:00 pm. We walked back to the hotel, me dragging a drooping Leslie behind, but it was really too close to justify a rickshaw.

We went to our new, official room and found that we'd been issued a king bed! Leslie fell into a chair while I went to the desk and arranged (and previewed) a new room. We got moved and collapsed on our twin beds to wait for the luggage.

Still no Internet. "Tomorrow, Madam". Right.

We had thought about going out to Prem, the nice restaurant we ate at on our last night in feb. but they don't open until 7:30. Then we decided it was really important to find out how the room service food was, in case we need to order in when we have Naveen. We discovered a) it takes 45 min., b) it was really good!

And then we fell into bed and slept all night!

In the Air

*This was written off and on throughout our various flights and layovers  while trying to get to Pune.* our Internet connection has been down, and Naveen has worn me out (but it's all good!!), so I'll try to update in the next few days - but I already had this blog post all typed up.


Right now, I'm sitting on a bench outside baggage claim in Frankfurt waiting to meet my friend Christoph. He was a German exchange student my senior year of high school and we've kept in touch over the years. The Internet makes things like that so much easier!

Sandwich is...well...I'm not sure. She chickened out, er, I mean decided not to leave the transit area (Hi Sandwich!) in case we took too long and missed our flight.  Anyway, Christoph should be here in a few minutes and then we're going to eat at some German restaurant in the airport.  I have no idea what to expect. Bratwurst and lots of sauerkraut?? Man, I hope that settles well with me because we have another ten hours in the air in very close quarters!

Speaking of embarrassing things that can happen on a plane....my oh so comfy, but dirt cheap pants from the Colaba Market in Mumbai ripped up the seam on the plane.  In the crotch. 


Why?? Why do things like this happen to me???

And my shirt that I bought at the same store? Well I noticed it has a huge hole on the side of my boob. It must be karma for trash talking all the half dressed German tourists we saw when we were in Mumbai.  It's like Lufthansa put a curse on me or something for tainting the image of their wanderlust travelers.


Okay, I'm back. I met up with Christoph and I DID have bratwurst and sauerkraut and it was goooood!  Did I mention that the plane had me marked as wanting a vegan meal? Which meant they served me the same soggy eggplant mix for dinner AND breakfast?  I was starving!  But when the waitress handed me this huge plate of eight sausages, sauerkraut and fried potatoes, I was like, what? There 's no way I can eat all this.

Y'all, I scarfed those suckers down in about ten minutes flat. And I know that sausages are made from lips and butt and all the scrapings off the sawdust floor, but it was the BEST lips, butt,  and sawdust I've ever tasted.

Vive le Frankfurt!

Oh, and Christoph gave me a sack full of TWENTY kinder eggs!!  You should've seen my face light up.  On the outside I appeared normal, but on the inside I was channeling my inner Smegel and I just wanted to grab that sack, clutch it to my chest, and say, "My precious!! My precious!!" and growl at anyone who came near me and my precious sack of chocolate oval treasures.

Right now, I'm sitting on the flight to Delhi. Sandwich has fallen asleep next to me.  I think she had to so she didn't have to listen to me grumble about the flight.  You see, I'm picky about my in flight entertainment. If I'm paying $1500 for a plane ticket, there'd better be an individual tv screen on the back of each seat with a good selection of movies.   Air Emirates really set the bar for that standard.  They had a crazy good selection. Well the flight from Frankfurt to Delhi is a flashback to 1993. Maybe even beforehand, but that's the first year I ever flew overseas, so that's my reference point. Anyway, they have overhead monitors and they're showing ONE movie. This is an eight hour flight. Momma is grouchy, tired, and sick of eggplant. She wants her individual TV screen and she wants it now.

But, I do have to give kudos to the flight staff. They are super good and friendly and I have no complaints about them. They really made the flight more bearable.


One cool thing is that we made with friends with the lady sitting next to us. She emigrated to Canada forty-one years ago, but was returning briefly fir a family emergency. Anyway, she was so nice and we chatted away for most if the flight. And get this...her daughter is also adopting from Pune! Is that a small world or what? We promised to keep in touch and she blew kisses to us as she was leaving.

Right now, we're just hanging around for our flight to Pune. Sandwich and I just shared a Paneer dosa (yes, my Paneer obsession continues!!). I also just got finished reading the Indian version of People magazine. It was only a dollar!

I showed the lady sitting next to me all the pictures of Naveen and now my anticipation is growing. I really just want to get to Pune, take a shower and sleep for the next 24 hours and wake up on Friday in time to get Naveen. But we have big plans in Pune today.  We're meeting a woman that Sandwich meet on the Sonlight Homeschool Forum for breakfast and then we're going to try and get the bulk of our shopping out of the way.  I had several friends give me lists of things to buy, and there's nothing more satisfying than going on a shopping spree on someone else's dime.

I also brought along my niece's Flat Stanley to take pictures of while in India. Her Kindergarten class is doing Flat Stanley right now and the timing was perfect.

Okay, I'm getting tired. Can you tell? My energy is zapped. It's currently 2:30 in the morning and I've only slept about threes hours in the last thirty-six. I'm starting to drag.  

Oh, before I forget.... If you change currency at the airport, ask if they can give you smaller bills. They gave me all  thousand rupee bills and I can't break them anywhere. Nobody seems to have change around here - or they don't want to part with it.

Looks like we can finally check in now. We haven't had Internet access the whole way, so this won't be posted until we get to Pune.

I'll try to update about our day later on tonight if I'm not too tired. 

Only one more sleep until Naveen is ours forever!

The Internet in the hotel's been down, so I haven't been able to update all at all. It came back on about 15 minutes ago. I do have a blog post typed up in my notes about the journey here, but not one about meeting Naveen yet. It's been a long day and we're all exhausted.

So, I'm copying the post I just put on Facebook and will update more when I can. Please pray for a smooth adjustment for Naveen, Thanks!

I'm so sorry I haven't posted yet. The hotel's internet has been down and is now only up sporadically. Anyway, we have Naveen! He's grieving pretty hard. After three hours of crying and pointing to the door, he fell asleep. He looks like a little sleeping angel. He had a rough time at first, but he kept coming to me for comfort and to hold him while he cried, which was good. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but each day will be easier. He really is amazing. I just can't believe how lucky I am to be his mom. He was all smiles for about thirty minutes (in the hotel room) and then he spilled water on himself, stripped off his clothes, pointed upstairs and started rattling something off in Marathi. At the orphanage, they go upstairs to change their clothes. When I told him no, I think he realized that he wasn't going back and that's when he started crying. But when he's happy...he's happy! He loves to dance. Oh, he's so cute dancing to the Bollywood videos. He's curious and quick and smart. And he knows he's cute! He'll do something naughty and then tilt his head to the side and smile. And he's a real cuddle bug. If I'm able to post pictures, I will.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Here we go!

Sandwich and Leslie at the airport

India or Bust

I know I have sorely neglected my blog lately. We've had so much going on...  including a nasty, stubborn battle with staph that nearly prevented me from leaving today.  But things are looking up and I'm sitting next to Sandwich in the airport lobby waiting for our flight to Delhi.

That's right! Today's the day. The two months  have come and gone and the day has finally arrived.

I'm going to India and bringing Naveen home!

I'll try to blog as much as I can, but I have a feeling it'll all come down to whether Naveen let's me or not.  I'm pretty sure he might rule the roost on this trip!

Okay, they're calling us to board, so I have to cut this short. We'll arrive in Pune this Thursday and see Naveen on Friday. So when you're getting ready for bed on Thursday, I'll be holding Naveen in my arms.

It's here! It's here! It's finally here!!