Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Going to Korea

In retrospect the journey back did not begin while setting on our terrace in Bangalore, it was conceived there, but it began in June of 2001 on our deck in Golden Valley.

My wife and I were discussing our good fortune of extending another year on her current ex-pat assignment for her Company, Target, and the topic of the discussion the home leave allowance
Many Companies that have employees on overseas assignments (ex-pats) offer these employees a financial thank you by way of home leave money. This money is given on the assumption that the employee will travel back to their home visit relatives, see friends and extol the virtues of their employer because of this “free” trip home, not us.

This year we chose to go to Korea and to help finance any of our family members who wanted to come along. We have the good fortune to have a total of 18 people going including us.

For the past few weeks we have been e-mailing and calling Children’s Home in St.Paul, who facilitated the adoption process of our three kids, to assist us with our plans. We now have meetings set up with all three Foster Mom’s and a special met and greet with the two Doctor’s Kim whom are in charge of Eastern Social Welfare Society, the agency in Korea who worked with Children’s Home to bless us with our kids.

The schedule is set with trips to the DMZ, Lotte World and to several Korean Markets and of course a trip up the Seoul Tower, which is similar to the Seattle Needle. There is also a small opportunity that may allow us to take a train into North Korea!

The chance for all our kids to see their respective Foster Parents is something that seems surreal. We will be posting blogs as we go and after each meeting hoping that we can add photos somehow so we can keep everyone up to the minute.

The journey begins......

Merry Christmas

The jolly old elf arrived in Bangalore in true fashion. Santa made his spirit known to us and the entire Palm Meadows community when at 7:35 local standard time Jimmy noticed that Santa had brought him a drum set. Not any old drum set a 5 piece affair complete with a bass drum, two snare drums and to tom tom drums and two separate cymbal's. James first words were " not bad, not bad at all" he has not stopped playing them yet!

Kay woke up this morning and announced " Today we go to Korea, Yeah!!" We asked her what else today was " oh Santa comes today, right?" You have to love her priorities!

She was equally impressed with her new Dora ensemble, Dora sleeping bag, pack pack, and bouncing ball. She is all set and ready to go to Korea.

Billy of course had a very Cars Christmas complete with a cars garage ( sleeping bag), books on cars as well as Cd's to learn about changing oil and other important stuff like that, when you are on the go.

Mom and Dad got some very practical gifts and Dad even surprised Mom with a little Bling.

We then went to some of our neighbors to pass out some Christmas candy and cards. Arun our neighbor down the street open his door and Jimmy announced " I got a drum set for Christmas" To which Arun responded " I know" with a sideways glance at us! I guess he had a point it was only 9:30 in the morning.

We then spent the afternoon gritting our teeth as Jimmy banged away, Kay danced and Billy played with his cars.

Then it was off to the Webb's for Christmas dinner with the rest of the Palm Meadoweans that are still here. We deep fried two turkeys and the new local butcher/seafood guy smoked us a ham. It was great fun and we all ate too much.

As we get ready for the journey to Korea,we are wishing you all the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest and most Prosperous New Year.

Love and God Bless,

Tom Tracy,Jimmy, Kay and Bill

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the night before Christmas

when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.Away to the window I flew like a flash,Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,With a little old driver, so lively and quick,I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;He had a broad face and a little round belly,That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,And laying his finger aside of his nose,And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It came upon a Midnight not so clear

It seems we woke up today and realized it is the last day of school, for three weeks? When did that happen and more importantly how did we miss it, again. The lack of seasonal makers does make things happen a little faster and apparently with out warning.

The last day of school is also red day and all the little tikes were clad in the many colors of red Kay even had to wear red bangles.The school had a children only party with the guest of honor, Saint Nick himself. Each child received a lovely little gift, Jimmy and Kay each received a pencil and an eraser while young William received a flower encased in a plastic cube with the words Happy Birthday, proudly displayed across the front?

We had our Christmas and farewell for awhile dinner with the Millers whom you will want to visit their blog http://www.wacmiller.blogspot.com/ to see their trip to Egypt and then their stay in Minnesota for the holidays. We wish them safe travels.

I have been frantically running around Bangalore Christmas shopping and have actually been quite successful. I have found a wreath, ornaments, smoked salmon among other items I can not mention now as young James can not only access the computer he can also read and therefore mentioning gifts that a certain person has yet to deliver is well a, faux paugh.

We are in the midst of getting ready for the trip to Korea and will update you on that soon.

Being that a great many of the world are in full festive celebratory mode for the upcoming feast of Christmas I thought I would pass on the follow info on the 12 Days of Christmas, which if you were purchase these itmes would cost you around $250,000 depending on the hourly wage of the 8 maids, as sort of a PSA:

Religious symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas)

1 True Love refers to God

2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation

7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments

11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles

12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

Meanwhile you better watch out you better not pout....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Deck the Halls

The Palm Meadoweans got together to trim the tree, have some eggnog and get into the Christmas spirit(s).

Abhi and Amber had the Murphy's, Fishers, Webb's and Vanderpooles over on Sunday for an afternoon of Christmas merriment. The kids had a great time decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies complete with sprinkles and home made frosting!

Amber makes and incredible eggnog and the adults had eggnog and Crown Royal, yummy!

There were elves and tiny reindeer, we were only missing the jolly old Elf himself but we are counting the days until Santa!

Billy Turns 3

We awoke on December 11th with this slap on the head from Billy and the announcement that today is MY Birthday, it was 6 am and Billy was ready to go. We were not, so he had to wait an hour or so until it was the proper time to get up.

We sent the little tike off to school with treats for his teachers and classmates and promised him a big party after his nap. Well he was somewhat uncooperative, which should have been our first sign of things to come, however we got him down for a nap and proceeded to get organized for the party. Now you may think that having a Birthday party for a 3 year old is easy , think again. What to do?

Well as you know Billy is a beyond normal car freak, a regular caraholic and every car or motorized vehicle for that matter is his, period. Many fights have ensued between Billy and our Cook and Maid, with the neighborhood kids, the entire Palm Meadows community and currently the ongoing battle with Caden T Miller is at a draw.

So the grand idea of getting a cake made in the likeness of the great one, Lightning McQueen, seem like a great idea at the time. We then had Tracy's marketing team print our a 24x36 photo of Lightning so we could play change the tire on the car, I mean Billy was way down with it. We then made Xerox copies of tires got a blind fold and wham instant success. ( Anyone can do pin the tail on the donkey)

We then had each child outfitted with a matchbox car and had car races down the slide followed up by a coloring contest, WOW.

Meanwhile all the participants were getting hungry so we headed back to Billy's pit, 83 Phase II, for his favorite meal of, corn with butter, mac and cheese and green sour apples and then to be followed with cake and ice cream, we thought.

Dinner was devoured and then Billy set off of the gifts with a frenzy. He received wonderful gifts of cars, playdoh,car legos, a helicopter ( his second love) and from Caden a bike. Yep Caden gave Billy his bike that he used when he was three and Billy was in heaven. Now Caden is a little taller than Billy so the seat was to high, no matter to OL" Bill because he also just received from Zak a set of tools ,which he promptly stated "no worries I can fix it" and did just that.

Now we unveiled the masterpiece of Lightning and put the number 3 candle on top lite the candle and sang one of the worse versions of Happy Birthday ever but no matter there was Lightning in all his glory, candle burning, Billy smiling from ear to ear!

Billy blew out that candle and everyone cheered and then we all said "lets cut the cake" all of us that is ,except Bill. "No way can you cut my cake", we were at a lost. This has never happened before in the history of kiddom. Not cut the cake you must be joking, "stay away it is mine !""leave it alone" we were shocked. The other kids starting chanting cut the cake cut the cake and Ol' Bill just stood up in his highchair spread out his arms in a protective fashion and yelled them down " there will be no cake at this party". What to do? We tried to reason with Bill, I quickly took a picture and then printed out a copy and gave it to him , to no avail .

The other kids were still applying peer pressure to which one of the Parents pointed out at least when Billy gets older no one will be able to pressure him into doing something he does not want to do, great but we had a small riot on our hands and kids looking for cake. So we compromised and gave everyone Ice cream. They still wanted cake.

I took Bill into the other room and tried to reason with him, Bill it is only a cake surely you must understand that? If we do not eat the cake we will have to throw it out and what fun would that be?You have a photo of the cake I can hang it on your wall over your bed and you can see it every night? His only response " No cut it"

Drastic times call for drastic measure. I am not proud of the next few moments but cake is cake. I gathered up some of Billy's new birthday presents, particularly the leggo car set and piled them on the counter on the other side of the room. I then brought my 3 year old over and showed him his new toys. I then told him that the people who came to the party did so to give these gifts to you and to have cake and ice cream. So if we can not give them cake we may have to give these presents back. " CUT IT CUT IT NOW", guilt works.

The cake was awesome Billy took one bite and was off to watch a movie, he does not really like cake in the first place. The riot calmed down and peace was returned to Villa 83.

I mean have you ever heard of a kid not wanting to have cake?

What is in store for us when he turns 4?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Attacked by a Mirror

We were on our way last Friday night to pick up Tracy from work driving down Airport road along with several thousand other people when out of no where the driver side mirror on our van exploded sending shards of glass everywhere.

Jarring Kay out of a small nap she yelled " What the hell was that"? Saravan pulled over and went to talk with the driver of the other vehicle. He then came to tell me I had to talk with this driver because he is "mad". Meaning not so much angry, as insane, like that.

He is a recap of what was discussed;
Tom: What seems to be the problem?
Driver: You pulled into my lane.
Tom: Impossible there are no lanes here.
Driver: True
Tom: We were in front of you so how is it that we hit you?
Driver: You did not hit me
Tom: OK, so that means you hit us
Driver: I did not hit you ,the mirror on my car collided with the mirror on you car.
Tom: Who owns this vehicle
Driver: I do
Tom: Then you are responsible for your mirror and therefore you hit me
Driver: This is not about money I will gladly pay for a new mirror. It is about the principle of the matter.
Tom: What?
Driver: You must agree that my mirror hit your mirror and I am not responsible for hitting your car.
Tom: Do you have brakes on this vehicle?
Driver: Yes
Tom: Whom is responsible for using the brakes?
Driver; Why do you ask?
Tom: Because whomever is responsible for using the brakes is the one responsible for hitting my mirror.
Driver: You do not understand. The mirror collided with your mirror and is ultimately responsible for causing your mirror to break.

At this point I felt it prudent to exchange cards and get his number. I then called his number to make sure it was the right one, I mean after a conversation like that, it is any ones guess.

Who do you think is going to pay for the new mirror?

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Christmas Bazaar

This is the second Christmas Bazaar that we have had the privilege to participate in. Every year the Overseas Women's Club (OWC) has a Christmas event that brings all the Charities that they support along with several of the businesses that one spouse or another is involved as well as the ever Popular Bangalore Rugby booth to St. Mark's church to sell their wares and for the kids to see Santa.

The actual seeing of Santa does occur however there are a limited few children that have the nerve to actually sit on his lap. Which drives Santa into depression and ultimately the bottle and Oh well watch the Billy Bob Thornton movie and you will get my drift.

Meanwhile fresh off a 27 plus hour journey from Minneapolis back to Bangalore yours truly was sitting in the seat wearing the heavy red fuzzy suit, lack of sleep, heat and slow traffic almost caused Santa to take a nap! One particular child was busted by Santa for not listening to his mother and was stunned that Santa knew of the infraction. Remember Santa knows if you are naughty or nice, along with a little help from the parents.

Not sure if its a good sign or not, but our kids are "on" to the fact that the Santa at the Cmas event isnt really Santa. Kay's comment was ... "oh, Wade's Santa this year". Then after Tom's shift as the jolly old elf, "now Bob's Santa". So much for the magic of the Cmas season.

There were booths with all types of shawls, clothes, ornaments and other notion and sundry items. The food booths were great and the Ox drawn carriage rides were also very popular.

After Billy and Kay found every mud puddle and dirt pile (including a snake hole that managed to burn about 30 min's of our time) we climbed back into the Innova and bid a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!