Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jimmy turns 7

Jimmy is 7!!!!

Holy cow, we cant believe it. Our guy is all grown up. He was SO excited to turn 7, its unbelievable how much energy goes into it. Its better than Christmas. He counted down the 7 Friday's before the "big" day and then counted down the final 7 days to his birthday. We had long discussions on what we should do for the party (lot's of games), who should be invited (only big boys, with the exception of Kay and Billy since they are my brother and sister) and even what kind of cake (definitely sprinkled cupcakes) We took him out for Korean food on Thursday night to "toast" his last day as a 6 yr old. Of course they all ate like we never feed them....

Then, the big day finally arrived and guess what ?? He had a 104 temp. Yep, all that prep, excitement and anticipation resulted in a natsy 48 hr bug. Poor guy. He was delirious with fever (talking to Preston at 6am and speaking in a So Indian English accent at about 4am). And, he kept complaining that when he picked his head up "his head goes crazy, there are crazy people in there". Needless to say, Mom and Dad didnt get much sleep this weekend. You know that you 7 year old is sick when he cries because he wants to cancel his birthday party and wait to open presents. In fact, we had told him there was 1 really big present (see the bike photo below) that would be ready at breakfast. At 3am, after a break in his delierium, he said "can you bring my big present up to me after my head stops acting crazy?".

But, never fail. The party was moved to Saturday, the presents waiting until post nap and we are still eating birthday cupcakes. (chocolate chocolate, yum!!). He had the best "day" and got the best presents, truly. Every new present was greeted with "Wow, this is what I ALWAYS wanted" "Cool" "Excellent" "No Way!!" "Alright" The objects of so much excitement??

~ A blue light saber from Grandma and Grandpa (let the Star Wars begin, it is actually quite cool)

~ A new red flamed dirt bike from Mom and Dad (much bigger than his old bike and totally fit for a cool new 7 yr old)

~ A Woody doll from Aunt Sue (he's been sleeping with it for 4 days now)

~ A finn and snorkle set from Preston (this will alieviate the fight that breaks out when Preston bring his set to the pool)

~ Xmen action figures from Kay & Billy (he even thanked both of them and gave them a hug)

The party itself was at Fun City, a sort of mini Chuck E Cheese. There was one game where you had to "drum" in order to defeat the characters and get points. Guess who won that game, over and over and over. I guess the lessons paid off.

We had pizza and soda and tried to keep 10 active kids from running too crazy (sort of a goat rodeo if you can imagine).

But, alls well that ends well. He had a grand time and is feeling better today. (Thank god)

We love you Jimmy and welcome to 7!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pondicherry & Road Signs

For those of you that read this blog regularly, you know that India is nothing if not amusing at times.

Tom and I slipped away for a quick adult only vacation in Pondicherry while Sue stayed back in Bangalore with the kids (we LOVE you Aunt Sue!!)

We had our own cabina that included a gated garden and 3 sets of lounge chairs. It was really cool and felt very private.

The vacation itself was nice and relaxing. 4 days, 3 naps, 2 massages and 1 big fat book. Not bad:) Here's the view of the ocean from the pool through the "door" of the resort...

However, the real amusement from the weekend came in reading all the road signs. Its my favorite habit to look for creatively spelled signs while I sit in traffic. I have seen chicken spelled more ways than you can imagine - chiken cicken chickin etc... So, for a long time I have wanted to do a blog on all the signs in Bangalore, however, it seems the level of spelling has improved over the last 2 years (mine hasnt but local residents have). I can no longer find the pethura of creatively spelled signs. But, on our way to Pondicherry, I had 6 hours to "watch" signs go by...

Here's my favorite Chiken shop by my house.

Hmmm....Alchoal is not allowed....

What gets me is that these arent just painted signs. They are produced high quality signs. I mean where's the proof reading or spell check?! Do they look at each other and do you spell alcohol? the other guy says alchoal..the 1st guy says...are you sure? Yeah, I'm sure... ok, let's put it on a sign and have it professionally produced. I mean, is there NO ONE along the way that knew that this wasnt the right spelling??

Same with suppliers ... supplierrs. Does the extra r mean something?

But the one below that is my ALL TIME Favorite now. I've heard of things being flammable and even things that are highly flammable, but who knew that truck after truck after truck on the Indian highways are carrying Highly Inflammable materials. Should I be worried or not??

Finally, the road signs themselves are hysterical. We went racing by one and I couldnt get a picture of said "Reckless Driving is a One Way Ticket to Hell". I mean, can you see that on the 694/494 loop?!

Andrea Madonna (aka Raj & Florence's baby)

Sunday Aug 10 was the BIG day. Raj & Florence's baby naming/christening. We picked Sue up from the airport bright and early, gave her a chance to catch about an hour of sleep, shoved breakfast into the kids mouths and we were "off" for the big celebration.

If you are Hindu, the baby is officially named and the name is announced at a baby naming cermony around the 3 month mark. This includes prayers to the appropriate gods, pooja, feasting and in at least one case we have heard of, the sacrificing of a goat.

If you are Christian, but of Indian desent, I think the traditional ceremony has been amended. Its a bit like a christening or baptism, however, this one took place in Florence's family home. This is a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom flat. Little did we know it could hold 50+ interested and related people.

Now, I am not sure that we had any set expectations of the event itself, but I was a bit surprised about a couple of things...
~ they held a full christian service in the living room for all 50 people - no one complained or pushed or shoved, just got real cozy with each other
~ they gave the service in English and then translated it into Tamil - I made a major blunder when I laughed during part of the sermon. The minister said in English "it doesnt matter how rich we are, how many nice clothes we have, or how expensive our car is...". What I caught in Tamil was "tamil tamil tamil tamil tamil tamil BMW car tamil tamil tamil"
~ singing is a VERY interactive event - these folks could put the best gospel singers to shame
my personal favorites of the day were "Jesus is a winner man, Satan is a loser man, I am on the winning team"
~ Raj and Florence bought US new outfits!! I was ushered into a room and changed into a full gorgeous turquois saree. Tom was outfitted in a handsome Kurta of light blue. We were embarrased by the generosity of the gifts, especially since we had all gotten dressed up in our best Indian outfits for the occassion. When I teased Raj and said "were you nervous we wouldnt be dressed appropriately for the event?" He laughed and said "yes, ma'am" (no and this was not after he told me I looked dull or fat, other common phrases he has told me in the past:)) Well, I wasnt sure I should be offended or not! I mean, we do wear rather casual clothes around Palm Meadows, but we have gotten rather dressed up for other big events like Saravanan's wedding.

The family went all out and treated us as the chief guests! We had our own table of food that they kept refilling and refilling. Not mention the never ending beers they kept putting at our table. It almost felt like the Taj West End brunch:) Raj even "robbed" some chicken from the caterers in the kitchen and made spicy chicken for just Jimmy.

The baby, Andrea Madonna, was splendid and we all had a great time holding her. Jimmy had her for about 30 min's straight when Kay made her play and entertained her for another 30 min's. Billy, in the meantime was with me in one of the bedrooms, playing with another little 2 month old baby. My kids are baby kids, what can I say. They were all too sweet.

All in all, as you often hear us say on this site, it was a cool experience and only one you could find in India:)

All the best baby Andrea!!! We love you!

(I am sorry but I can not get "Baby Madonna with children at your feet, how do you manage to get any sleep" out of my head. - Tom)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jimmy's marks and Sue's HERE!!

Wow, it was a busy weekend. Last week, Jimmy had his 1st test of official 1st standard unit tests. They held one test/day and then Friday was the parent/teacher conference and the unveiling of the marks.

Now, keep in mind, we tried to study with him each night, but were getting growingly concerned when we would ask him "how'd you do?" He'd say "great! I got 10 of 10" Oh, we were so proud!! Until... he then said "yeah and another kid got 14 of 14 and another 16 of 16" Hmm... just how many questions are on the test? And...are we raising a chronic optimist? I mean, getting 10 of 16 does sound better when you say, "I got 10 of 10 right and the other 6 wrong..."

No fear, he "topped" his tests...
Maths (as they call it here) 25 of 25
English (spelling) 24 of 25
Computers (naming parts) 25 of 25
Environmental Studies (as far as I can tell, reading comprehension) 20 of 20
Hindi 19 of 25 (ok, before anyone freaks on this, he didnt answer the last 4 questions, so I"m tempted to call it a 19 of 21 with not answering the last 4:)

His teachers are all really proud of him, he leads the class in confidence and leadership, always wanting to help other kids. He plays with everyone and is nice to everyone ("also ma'am, he is very talkative and funny") He just needs to do his work more neatly and slowly. It seems he's always racing to be the 1st one done. We are really proud of him.

On another equally proud note, Kay came home with 2 stars on her hand. When I asked her why she said "because I sat still all day". Now, those of you who read this blog and know Kay know... this is a feat equal to Jimmy's test scores:)

We had barely finished recovering from all the school celebrations when....

Sue's here!!!! Sue's here!!!

Sue arrived Sunday morning 4:30am. She looked great and didnt seem to mind the long flight at all. The kids were too excited to see her and Jimmy was up early to cuddle with her. She is our only repeat guest and we have some fun things planned. Keep posted to our blog for the latest!!

Good bye to the Webbs!

1st of all, we apologize for our lack of blogging lately. Tom has enrolled in college on line(Thanks Shawn:)) and all his "free" time is going to studying, getting chat room points, and figuring out how to navitage the college site. Between Tracy sitting at a computer 8 hours a day, now Tom is too:) Hence our lack of blogs.

The 1st piece of news we need to share is actually a sad goodbye to The Webbs. The Webbs have returned to California just in time for Cody to start 1st grade. We will miss S-Bone, C-Bone,N-Bone and S-P-Diddy. We will keep Gemma in our prayers and look forward to a photo!!!!!

Cody and Jimmy became fast friends 15 months ago when Cody said "wanna play power rangers?" and Jimmy said "power up!". Noah and Billy also developed a brother like relationship that included hugging each time they saw each other and fighting mercilessly over trucks, cars, etc. Kay didnt lack for attention as Shawn and Steph and patiently waiting to bring Emma home from China. On more than one occassion, I feared that they'd go home with Kay smuggled under their shirts (one more than one occassion, I wish they would have!).

So, we gathered some of our favorite photos of the kids together as a tribute to their time in Bangalore.

Good bye, but welcome home! We'll be sure to call on you for a Disney land visit when we get back.

The LoudAmericans

Thursday, August 07, 2008

MaduraiTemples and Peacocks

As we began year three it is fitting our first trip is with Ajay and his son Shiv. We have been hanging around together for two years now and have found that we travel well together.

We set off on Friday afternoon and reached Madurai without any trouble thanks to our new driver Raju. (and special thanks to the new DVD player in the van - we are now experts on Star Wars Return of the Sith and Barbies Fairytopia)

Madurai is known for the awe inspiring Sri Meenakshi Templecomplex. It is one of South India's oldest cities and has been the centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries.

The temple itself is humongous. Really, you could totally get lost in it. We stayed at a hotel on the outskirts of town, up on a hill and the temple is by far the largest structure in town. Now, I say "town" and "temple" and I had visions of a quaint little village with a temple out in the countryside. Well. Not so. Madurai is a "town" of 1 million people and the temple is SMACK in the middle of town. So, to say that this temple stood out is no small feat.

I have always wondered a bit about he draw of temples (outside the spiritual aspect, I mean). Many of my co workers children beg to go to the temple for special occasions, holidays and birthdays. I mean, come on , when was the last time on of our Christian children begged to go to church of their birthday?!

After going to Meenakshi temple. I get it! Its like a mini version of the state fair. There's flowers, food, elephants (yep, inside the temple with cool face painting AND they give rides), souvenirs, all types of people and its a festive atmosphere. Fun stuff!

The hotel we stayed at had equal draw for the kids. Besides chocolate donuts on the breakfast buffet and a pool (always my kids favorite parts of vacation), this place had peacocks. Not just wild, catch a glimpse in the forest peacocks, but big, huge, confident peacocks. We woke up the 1st morning to one sunning himself on our terrace, for over 15 min's the kids were enthralled (he finally flew away after they made so much commotion). You can also feed the peacocks every morning and evening. So Saturday evening found us feeding peanuts to the peacocks. I had one of those surreal moments when I realized how cool this experience is for my kids. When we were kids, our parents/grandparents would take us to the lake/pond/river park to feed the ducks old bread. We thought that was too cool. My kids wont have those memories (yet) instead they'll remember the time we fed the peacocks peanuts. Same thing, different country/culture, but it still translates.

The pool was also a big draw even though it was cool out. The kids found a frog, well a toad, in the pool and Dad was the hero when he got it out. Jimmy and Kay enjoyed the pool while Billy caught up on the local news. The boys were very interested in the bombs and explosions that we going on in Bangalore.

Sunday we had coffee with Ajay and Shiv as they headed off to continue their vacation and we had a leisurely breakfast and then headed back to Bangalore. Madurai is differently worth a visit if you are ever in Tamil Nadu!