Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!

Jimmy's "prize" at the halloween party

Ready to go trick or treating!

Jimmy's class party

Kays class party

Mr Davis as the tooth fairy

If you need to imagine the energy and excitement level around here, just imagine...

Halloween parties at school & church, Sue's in town, we are leaving for vacation AND everyone gets to get jazzed up on candy for 1 night of the year. YEAH!!!

The kids finally landed on their halloween costumes - Jimmy is the scary guy from Scream, Kay is a witch/vampire and Billy a red (led) Power Ranger (Langer) (remember he cant say his r's - he says l's instead, its sort of a reverse asian thing). To be honest, the only one who had a problem with what she was going to be was Kay. Jimmy found the Scream mask at a garage sale 6 weeks ago and hasnt taken it off since. Billy walked into Target, found the 1st Power Langers costume and was done. Kay on the other hand, has a bit of Grandma Bill in her. We shopped for her costume for almost 3 hours. Including 2 trips to Target and 1 trip to a Halloween store. She "just cant decide". I dont know if its that they all looked good or if none of them were what she wanted. I finally convinced her that she'd make a killer vampire witch and promised to do her makeup separately and FINALLY we were done.

They all had parties at school and while the school has a no treats policy, that didnt stop the mayhem. Jimmy's teacher (Mr Davis) went as the tooth fairy and I have to admit it was a work of art. Sue got to join in the fun and so kicked off our holiday weekend.

The party at church included bringing along Ben C (cousin Ben) and an effort to get everyone out of the house so Tom could finish his last assignment for school before we jet off. There were games, crafts, treats and more mayhem. The boys planted themselves in the haunted house and "worked" the whole time. They scared everyone that came through and thought it was hysterical.

Finally the cue de gras...trick or treating!!! It was awesome. Loads of candy and super fun to see all our friends dressed up and "out" for the night. There was even a gorilla on the loose that was stealing kids candy (only to give it back a block later).

Lucky Sue, the kids are exhausted, have bags full of candy and we are out of commission for 7 days. Good luck! (and thank you !!!)

Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Homesick for Bangalore

Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while will remember a blog I wrote about 2 years ago about homesickness. I compared it to the flu. While you think homesickness will be more like an allergy (sort of a constant irritant but something you can live with) the reality is that its like the flu. It hits hard, unexpected, takes you out for a few days and leaves you going...'wow, what was that?!"

I had that experience this week, but instead of missing Minneapolis, I am missing Bangalore.
What brought this on? I'm not sure ... I think it was spurred by 2 things.

One, I am reading "I am a Stranger Here Myself" by Bill Bryson. Its an hysterical account of his move back to the US after 20 years in Britain. I cant even begin to describe how accurately he describes american life. Not in a degrading or complaining sort of way, but in a way that makes you realize how lucky (and "falsely" entitled) we truly are. If you have ever spent more than 3 weeks out of the US, read it. Its a good ego deflator.

Then, I had an incredibly vivid dream in which I was having to say goodbye to all my girlfriends in Bangalore. I was SO sad, my heart hurt and I am sure I was sobbing in my sleep. Its bad enough to have to have had to say goodbye once and know that while I'll keep this group close to my heart, we'll never physically all be close again (or even on the same continent at the same time, again). Too sad. This got me thinking of all the things I miss. (besides Radha, Stuti, Carol, Angie, Francis, Petra, Stacy, Allison, Angelica, Jessica)

~ Vivid, crazy, detailed, psychidelic dreams (see above) - there is something about living in a totally foreign experience where you are out of your comfort zone everyday that amps up your dream meter. My dreams here are nice, but they are more the modest cozy suburban middle class dreams of hot dish and snow pants.

~ The stars - I was walking Nikki last night and realized I miss looking up at the stars from the villa and seeing a million bright little dots and the totally disorienting sense of not recognizing a single constallation. Talk about unnerving. Its amazing how reliable/safe it is to look up and see the northern star and big/little dippers. It grounds you. (not to mention that with the glow from Mpls, you really cant see many stars)

~ The colors - I now live in the world of black, grey and brown attire. I walk through the halls of Target and its a sea of conservativeness. No oranges or turquoise, no red, yellow, blue or gold. No shiny sparkly shirts. No beaded flip flop (chappels). No big dangly earrings and tons of bracelets (bangles) and rings on every finger. Stepping out here is dark blue, burgandy and MAYBE red (if you are wearing team colors that day)

~ The food - Its cheap, fresh, offers a ton of variety of fruits/veggies (that actually taste like something other than the hothouse they were grown in) and spices that would set your hair on fire. You can go to ANY buffet for lunch, eat for less than $7 and gorge yourself on 17 different dishes that dont all taste like they were made in the same pot with the same spoon. (Indian food here is NOT my favorite)

~ The adventure - While our day to day lives could be as routine as they are here, there was a sense of unpredictability just around every corner that added a spring to your step. Along our many drives around the city, we encountered.... a woman hurling her feces at a bus, a goat being decapitated for a ceremony, beggers that were missing teeth, fingers, etc (many children), donkeys riding in ricksaws, camels pulling carts on the highway, an elephant lumbering up to a temple for a puja, etc etc. Now, our trip to Duluth last weekend was fun, the trees gorgeous and the predictability of gas stations, modern comforts soothing; it didnt quite have the same sense of adventure we had come to enjoy.

~ The coffee/tea - yes, I even miss that stupid Coffee Day machine in RJU. I miss that I had to walk 2 flights of stairs to get to the machine that made a decent cup. I miss the tablespoon of jaggery (sugar) that you had to add to make it drinkable. I even miss the fact that 1 cup was all you needed (literally, more than that you had to take anphetimines to come down). I miss the chai at the jewerly stores. It was so amazing. I have a craving to go jewerly shopping just to drink the tea.

So, while I have been missing my friends, the food, the experience, I just got socked in the stomach by homesickness. I'll get over it. I have so much here that I love (people food experience) but I also know that homesickness is like the flu; you never know when it'll hit and no one is immune.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kay's sings backup & Jimmy brings it to ya!

So our friend Will Hale has created this new awesome family musical experience. He is playing at the Cedar here in Minnespolis and having kids of all ages join him in a rock concert, family style. We were asked to help with the event and the kids decided they would do back up, well only Kay actually had the courage at the end of the day, but the rehearsals were great.

Kay, as you all know, really has no fears and when she jumps in & hangs on because ....she is going for it. She climbed on stage looked at Will and said "hit it" and that was how it is done. She was up there singing away to "Don't tell me it's easy growing up when your falling down" and she had a ball.

We needed to get one of those old fashioned long cane hook things they used in Vaudville acts to drag her off stage, not because she was no good, just the opposite and I think that Will was getting a little nervous sharing the stage with a 6 year old back up singer with an attitude.

Here is the you tube link: (keep in mind that Jimmy was our videographer)

Jimmy in the mean time has begun to branch out of his shell and statred to sing accoustic versions of his favorite you tube songs. He recently had become obseesed with The Blues Brothers , Soul Man, and really there is not much more that I can say than watch this:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seriously blog negligent and unworthy

Ok, you are all probably convinced that we have fallen off the face of the earth. Well, we have, in a way. Our blog world at least.

Tom and I started a fitness challenge in an effort to get into shape for our upcoming week long (kid free) adventure to Puerto Vallarta (yeah! can you tell we are excited?). We are doing it with the 3 couples that we'll be vacationing with and its boys against girls. You can already predict the outcome, right? We are in an all out fitness WAR! Dont ever call this group uncompetitive.

The goal is to log as many aerobic miles as you can each week. This has come at the price of sleep, meaningful conversations with my spouse and updates to the blog (we are trying to not let it affect school, work or the kids, but even those are getting pulled into the fray.)

What does this mean? Here's an email exerpt from Tom to the group trying to rally/inspire his team to "do more!"

"The truth of the matter is that Tracy and I try to work out for around two hours a day, some days we do some days we cant. The issue is weekends. If we can get a workout on either or both days that is somewhat of a bonus. We use the chart to figure out our numbers. We have goal charts for the kids and us and we make a family event around marking the charts and who accomplished what goals.

Before we started this Tracy and I were doing about 40-45 miles per week.
This would include 30-35 workout miles plus the "gimme" 10.5 for daily activities (breathing, chasing kids, etc). Since we started the program we have changed our behaviors (which gains us 5 miles per week in bonus miles - stuff like: salads for lunch, dinner before 7pm & limited drinking - thats the hardest one), some weeks we do better than others and have added an extra day or two to our workout schedule. Which means we now workout 5-7 days/week versus 4-6.

We average 6-8 miles per day. It is not easy to do and I am not sure that we could sustain this pace for an extended period of time however we committed to 9 weeks and so here we are.

I have found that this "competition" has motivated me to up my personal goals. I now find myself making time for an extra workout versus watching TV or something else. I would like to figure out a way to continue as the challenge part helps me stay motivated

Plus its been fun to check with our team mates and see how they are doing and rub it in when we (girls) win. We have 2 weeks of score posting to go and right now its girls 4 weeks, boys 3 weeks. The girls need to clinch 1 of the upcoming weeks to get the gold.

We'll let you know how we do.

In the meantime, off to the club!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

The view from here

It has be quite some time since I have had the energy or the time for that matter to log into the old blog and post some random or not so random thoughts. So much so that my birthday came and went, my wife posted some reflective and deep thoughts and still no input from me.

I have been trying to figure out the difference from being in India compared to being back in the US and quite honestly it is hard to compare or contrast for that matter so I have stopped. I can say that I am happy to be back home but miss India and the people terribly.

I have started to branch put of my normal book reading and started reading books about people and their stories and find that it is fascinating to read something other than a mystery or spy story. I have found that there is a common denominator, which to some extent I always new was present, which is tragedy. It is in itself is no fun but the results are often times so much greater that the tragedy seems worthwhile. I hope that does not make me sound like I am rooting for tragedy, I am merely saying that reading or for that matter seeing things with both eyes open gives one a better or broader perspective.

I look back over the last year and see the growth I and my family have made and the fact that as hard as I try the kids are growing up. I know they are not even in double digits yet but they are three of the coolest people I know, not to mention Tracy! To have celebrated yet another birthday and the mile stone of 11 years married adds to the joy of the past year. I look forward now more than ever to just hang out at home, play with the kids and learn about the universe as it told bu a four year old using the current trend toy as the center, Yikes!

There is a surreal feeling of watching your child see an arts and craft show on TV and then go gather all the needed equiptment and re-create the craft that they just watched. Kind of cool. The kids are the center of your universe and until you have them you would never know.

The moment Bruce made the cover of AARP, was another time to think about music and the impact it has on people and well me. I am about as tone deaf as one can be and I am the poster boy for ' He could noy sing his way out of a paper bag', all true.That does not mean I can not listen to my kids sign give Nikki a Steak and not be pround of the way Kay hammers on the guitar, Jimmy lay's down the beat on the drums and Old Bill eases a lazy melody out of the piano. Who knows what musical talent lurks behind the ears and eyes of the three youngest loudamericans.

So as I now enter into the last year of my 5th decade I am looking around at all my blessings and with at some times tears of contentment, cannot imagine how lucky I am. To have family and all of the healthy, spending time with them and friends and the recent memory of how well the new era of Vikings football has taken hold, make me appreciate all the good things we have.