Life actually.

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:30-31

“Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

After the grind of language learning, homeschooling and home “minister-ing,” I look forward to the weekends, to rest. But as every parent knows, weekends are cool, but they are no day-off. So in typical fashion we filled the weekend with activities that were outside of the every day and had some fun. For this post I will share about two weekends and the week in between.

We took the kids to beat the heat in an indoor play center called Kid Fun City.

The next day we took them to the pool we had gone to a couple weekends ago. I made sure I took pictures of the estate that this pool is located on because it is a former general’s mansion turned resort and for a fee the pool is open to the public. The grounds of the resort are incredible, and I am sure Adam and I would have spent more time exploring if the kids were not running full speed ahead to the pool.

After the pool, we returned home and spent some time preparing for the week. We began monday in normal fashion with language classes and homeschool. However, it also began with some unexpected news of friends leaving. Here, the landscape can change in an instant. There are many other expats here in the city and many travel to their home country for holiday and many leave either because it is time for their return back or the government has asked them to leave. As a foreigner, we are restricted to a certain amount of time in country depending on our type of visa and business. I was gripped with the reality of our limited time here. Much like all of our days, in the big picture or small, tomorrow is never promised. We filtered much of our week through the temporal nature of life abroad while wrestling with being present at the same time.

I gave this post the title of “Life Actually” because it reminded me of the movie, love actually. You know, the scene in the airport at the start and end of the film, with all of the hello’s and goodbye’s that life brings. I changed it to life instead of love because of the sobering nature of the week. Hello’s and goodbye’s are a part of life, but that does not make them easy. It was not easy to leave friends and family back in the states, and it is not easy to be absent during trials and celebrations. It hurts to say goodbye to new friends, it hurts to be left behind. It breaks my heart to watch others deal with grief of saying goodbye, be it temporary or eternal. Goodbye’s are heart breaking.

Small things can break the mundane and soberness of reality. For example, laughter and ordering coffee from your favorite coffee place in the middle of language class, or watching as as many Marvel movies in a week as you can. And hands down, Bollywood music and movies can change the mood of a room in an instant. “Bum Bum Bole” is one Bollywood song that is a hit right now and the kids are loving it. During our language class the kids have class with an excellent teacher and she taught them the choreography to this song and they had a blast. Music and dance always bring light to my day so it was pure joy to see Gracelyn’s excitement when she showed me what she had learned.

At the end of the week, I was so excited that my new Kurta dress was ready to be picked up. I was amazed at how great it fit, how beautiful it felt and how comfortable it was. And finished in perfect timing as Adam and I got to go on our first date since we moved here that Saturday! So I put on my new dress and we went to a coffee shop for pancakes, cappuccino and uninterrupted conversation. Oh, and we swung by the market because who doesn’t when you have the chance to get some groceries sans kids. As if having a babysitter wasn’t enough, we also took the kids to see the movie Secret Life of Pets. It was actually their gift to Adam for Father’s Day. At the movie theater there was a promotion for watching the Cricket World Cup Match so we enjoyed getting a “snapshot” with some local celebs.

After the movie, the kids and I worked together to bake some gluten free cupcakes and bread for Father’s day. It was my first time using a small convection oven and first time making bread ever. So….. it was…… interesting. I mean, it tasted like bread! That’s success, right?

In the afternoon, on Father’s Day, we were ecstatic to see the rain and the wind! It is either pre-monsoon season, or actual monsoon season, but either way- it rained! And that meant the temperature dropped. I stood outside letting the wind blow all around me as Gracelyn frolicked around in her rain boots singing “Jumping up and down in muddy puddles,” a tune from Peppa Pig, which surprisingly here is a local network favorite.

That night we went to our friends to watch the World Cup Cricket match of India versus Pakistan. All five of us loved the fresh air, the view of the mountains, and witnessing the joy and operation of a large family living communally. Our kids played with all the other little kids and the men watched the game while the women talked. As different as life may be from one place to another, the reality of shared interests that can transcend culture is awesome.

After these two past weekends, I was reminded that rest over the weekend is an illusion. I often awake saturday morning remembering the days of youth, sleeping in and watching TBS all day. It is much different now, as an adult, a wife, and a mother. It is also very different living in another country. I still can not believe how much sleep I used to get in my 20’s! But I digress. I am learning not look to the weekends to rest. I was reminded of this as I was looking at the mountain view at my friends house. As long as I can remember, mountain and lake views have always had a calming and soothing effect. I think it is because I grew up visiting the Adirondacks and some of my best childhood memories are there. And the view is always breathtaking. But I think it is also because when I see a mountain I hear the verse in my head, “I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-3

Truths like this and the ones at the start of this post help me find rest when weary. They help me find peace in a world where so much is not as it should be. They help me get back to the grind. The grind of “home-ministering” as they say here. The grind of home-school. The grind of daily tasks. The grind of transition. The grind of culture shock and homesickness. For the joy of the Lord is my strength.

These cuties help too 😉

Its getting hot in here.

“Two are better than one, because they have good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

115.

108.

113.

111.

These were some of the temps this past week! Out of gatorade and glucon-d just ain’t cutting it. Not to mention our kitchen is the hottest room in the house and the only room without an AC unit. It is a sauna. And this whole gluten free eating is getting old! It requires constant food prep (in the heat) and several trips to the local grocery store (in the heat) and when we are finished, all we want is water anyway! This NY gal must still have NY blood because I feel like an oven that is always preheated, so with these high temperatures I need an ice bath to stabilize! So grateful for my husband. Our teamwork this week was clutch. This week did involve more than just heat though.

We paid our first electric bill which looks like a receipt that you receive and then are required to go pay at the electric supply office. This is tricky, without assistance I am sure Adam would have been lost somewhere in the middle of town in 110 degree temperatures looking for a building that no doubt is unmarked, has a long line of people and no A/C. Thankfully our superhero Landlord stepped in and saved the day (which he has done several times) and drove Adam to pay the electric bill and also dropped Adam and the boys off to get a haircut! How do you like that!

Those boys just about broke my heart with their big boy Indian hair cuts! They looked so grown up! And my heart broke for Adam as his sickness continued to hold him down no matter how hard he tried. For a guy who rarely went to a doctor in the states when sick, the fact that Adam went to a doctor here says a lot….. Indian virus-1, Adam-0.

In spite of the heat and sickness that dominated much of our week, I made it to the import store that sells frozen berries, frozen chicken, and frozen french fries! This is significant. I had heard about this store and tried to find it on my own. An hour later in a tuk-tuk with two boys, lost somewhere in the marketplace and overheated, we gave up. So thankful for a friend who picked me up and brought me there in her car! That meant I did not have to ride home with loads of groceries in a tuk-tuk! I took a snapshot of the outside of the store so that I would remember so I can go it alone in the future. I know I will need to with all this gluten-free cooking.

And, with my frozen chicken I was able to cook with the pressure cooker for the first time and make shredded chicken! I was so nervous I would over cook it that I ended up turning the heat off and checking on it 4 times. Which meant that it took double the time to cook, which kind of defeats the point of a pressure cooker. This also meant I spent twice as long in the sauna, er, I mean kitchen. Yeesh.

We were so excited that we had been invited to a friends house to watch India play in the world cup this week! Unfortunately going would have required both of us to be able to stand vertical. The heat had gotten us so bad that we took turns lying on the cold floor while the other tried to manage, anything at all. In our fatigue and surrender we let the kids take the shower buckets on the porch for some water play and they ended up turning the floor of the porch into a slip and slide. It was pretty great to watch. From inside,… on the floor,… in the A/C. Needless to say, India won the match against South Africa, and also won in the battle of Indian heat versus our hydration battle strategy. Now you know why I mentioned glucon-d not cutting it! Fortunately Amazon India brought us our tub of gatorate mix over the weekend!!!

India may have had some victories this week, but so did the Braucher’s. Jackson had his very first speech therapy session via skype! He crushed it! For a 3 1/2 year old to focus for 30 minutes on skype and not only remain engaged but excited was an answer to prayer. We are so excited to continue this therapy and are so grateful it even exists. We are also extremely excited to see Jackson’s progress in speech therapy, as he had spent two years with little to no progress in speech therapy before we knew about his hearing loss, and now that we have his “ears” in and they are all tuned up, we are ready!

Drumroll…….Gracelyn and I are finally ready to reveal some of our yoga progress! It has been awesome watching Gracelyn’s natural athletic ability unfold in these classes, very similar to how it did when she took gymnastics in the states. I have loved taking yoga from an athletic standpoint and have experienced increased mobility and pain reduction. Here they are!

Our week ended with receiving our long awaited package from the states full of goodies from Mima for the kids, and precious items such as popcorn seasoning, young living essential oil products and ziplock bags.

Stay tuned for next week, I have a feeling the popcorn seasoning and probiotic gummies we got will be a game changer.

Oh, and I went to the tailor with the material I bought last week! My dress will be ready on the 15th!

A Teeter Totter week.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

Up.

And down.

Up.

And down.

That was this week. At least it was not like a merry-go-round. Although, my stomach would disagree.

Started with a great yoga class monday afternoon. My foreword bend is getting so much better and I felt like I nailed the Surya Namaskar. Feeling confident and limber, I was excited for a good week. We also made the decision to remove gluten from our diets. With Sensory Processing Disorder, Anxiety and potentially ADHD in the mix amongst our family members, it was time to test the correlation between gluten and hyperactivity. And then Garrett came down with the stomach bug.

But it’s OK! He only threw up twice in the night and we only had to wash 3 sheets!

And I had a girl date with my friend! We went to Old City which is this incredible piece of history. We strolled through the market, through a sea of colors and textiles and block prints and vendors shouting phrases that I am certain are in the Aladdin movie. I was on the hunt for “choodiyaan”, aka bangles. Married women here wear bangles as a representation that they are married, and I have not been wearing any! No wonder the tuk-tuk driver asked.

I was excited to find my first pair of bangles and first pair of Rajasthani flats. I also came with an extra dose of humility because I was well aware that most of the bangles probably would not fit over my wrist, nor flats on my feet. So when looking I joyfully shouted “Badi”, aka big when asked for my size. I was successful with the bangles! Not so much for the flats. And I found an incredible bag to boot. At least I can live vicariously through Gracelyn’s flats.

Gracelyn was making great progress with her 6 medicines that the ENT ordered. Probably because I gave her chocolate baking morsels from the states after every medicine. And that’s Antibiotic, Steroid, Probiotic, Allergy, and two nasal sprays. After a long previous week of sickness, I had taken her to the ENT over the weekend. We discovered that she is allergic to the dust here. So allergic that her adenoids were incredibly swollen and her ear drum was at risk of rupturing. They even sent us to x-ray to check on her adenoids! overwhelmed once again by sickness and medicine, it was imperative that I remember to be grateful for the medical care and and ask friends to pray for her healing. That and to diffuse Young Living Thieves and Purification of course.Also, A few of you have asked about healthcare here. I am pumped to share that after each visit, I pay cash!!! No insurance company, no explanation of benefits, not calling to appeal a service not covered!!! So amazing, in fact, I will show a picture of the receipts and little folders we get to take home from each visit.

The ups and downs are so frequent, they blur together. Wednesday morning I awoke so sick to my stomach that it knocked me out for three days. And when I recovered, Adam went down. What a great week to be gluten free huh? Friends, I don’t know how we managed to maintain it, but somehow the kids made it through the week with two sick parents and nothing but eggs, hard-boiled eggs, rice, nuts, fruit and vegetables to eat. It wasn’t until Saturday that we found a meat guy and figured out how to get chicken delivered to our door! New favorite foods for the kids equal raisins, oatmeal with swirls of nutella, cashews and potato chips. We have lots to learn in this gluten-free journey. At the end of an exhausting week we were not even sure if it was worth it. And then we let them have pancakes. And that was it. After witnessing an obvious impact from the gluten, I decided to head to the store and get creative. I learned how to make Rice flour Roti, and Quinoa cheese and veggie bites. Who knew it would take me to move to India to learn how to up my culinary repertoire. I even learned how to make homemade sweet lime soda. But, ended up using the instant version instead. But hands down my favorite item is good 0ld-fashioned gatorade. With temps of 109 and 110 this week, we have depended on gatorade for survival.

I ended the week on an up. To give Adam some rest, I decided to take the kids to the local mall because it has an indoor play area where they could shed some energy since they were cooped up all week due to the heat and two incapacitated parents. Unbeknownst to me, there was a marvel meet and greet event! It was awesome. Ironman, Spiderman, BumbleBee, all dancing on stage and the kids got to join them. Epic.

Went out to a new shop with a friend, found a new Kurta dress and……. drumroll……. Meters of material! I shared in an earlier post that I am intimidated by the common purchase of meters of material to turn into a three piece suit or a saree. Still intimated by the saree, so that is yet to come. But I did find some incredible material to take to a tailor to make into a dress! I will share the final product after it is made!

The teeter totter ended up. Grateful to end the week on the up and up. Nothing like falling sick, and people you love falling sick to make you homesick. I have missed my family and my friends greatly this week. I have missed their voices, the smell of the fresh air in NY, the green grass and the blue sky. I have missed deli sandwiches with turkey! I have missed friends from all phases of my life, apartments we used to live in, and the ability to be able to be with the ones I love in an instant for sickness, for births, for celebrations. But I am grateful that I have so many ways to connect, and so many wonderful pictures to look at and reminisce.

Week 9. Perspective is everything.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

I was ready for monday. I am NEVER ready for monday. Maybe it was the pool party we went to on sunday that left me feeling refreshed and ready for the week. It was awesome. Held at what felt like an oasis in the middle of the city with several other expats. A pool to beat the heat, other kids for our kids to play with, food and a welcome influx of advice on things like grocery shopping, business, medical care, travel, education etc…

And we had a victory! It is always good to start your week with a victory. This was a win over ear infections. I read that mineral oil in the ear prior to swimming can help prevent ear infections. After the doozy of infections we had the last time we swam in a pool here, I was all for it. I can only imagine how I appeared. Me, carrying a small tupperware of liquid in a ziplock bag. However, if I put it in my bag, the coconut oil would have made a mess! I am convinced there is NO container in the world that coconut oil doesn’t sneak out of. I just kept imaging the locals thinking, “strange american.”

The week began with Garrett losing his second tooth and since the Indian tooth fairy was already “planning” on coming, Gracelyn decided to finally trade in her 3 teeth she had saved from her teeth extraction in Florida. Yes. She saved three teeth. And Yes, they came all the way to India. But kudos to her. She scored 30 rupees. My kids are learning to save!! Although, The “tooth fairy” must be careful not to overgift, else we will end up with a pet dog since that is what they are saving for!

One of several notes that Gracelyn left for the tooth fairy.

This week we also had two more yoga classes. I was a bit apprehensive for the next session considering how sore I was over the weekend. We so enjoy our yoga time though because we have an incredible instructor who is also a friend. Gracelyn is convinced that she is ready for the next level, where I am gladly accepting the modified positions.

If I am evaluating the week in terms of wins and losses, UBER was a total loss this week. We have not bought a vehicle yet, and taking uber is currently more cost effective. But every time I requested a car this week, the car would just sit there on my app, not moving.

10 minutes later, still waiting and overheated and frustrated, I would cancel my uber. They would still charge me! And then I would have to hail down a tuk tuk. Sounds easy except for the fact that most of my rides are brief and worth 50 rupees. A non-uber driver would charge me 150 rupees because I am a foreigner. I argued with one driver that I would absolutely not pay more than 50 and I ended up having to get out and look for another!!! In fact, I was so irritated by it that I asked my language instructor how to let the drivers know not to mess with me! I learned how to say, “Main Bevakooph nahin hoon”, aka- “I am not stupid.”

Another win this week was getting my Kurtas back! Remember how I said I sent them out to be pressed and then did not hear back for over 10 days? Well, no foul play! She was at a wedding! Weddings are a HUGE deal here. As soon as she got back, I got my Kurtas back.

In the arena of evaluating wins and losses, the next couple updates depend on the perspective. If you are viewing from the lens of health trouble equals loss, then we had some losses this week. But I am viewing from the lens of whether or not the healthcare we need exists here. So, from that perspective, we had some major wins! That does not mean I did not experience bouts of anxiety, frustration, sadness and fatigue- because I did, without a doubt.

But long story short, We found out that Jackson has Bilateral sensorineural hearing loss in December 2018. In January 2019 Jackson got hearing aids fitted. In March 2019, after months of tests we found out that Jackson has Ushers Syndrome Type 2. This is a genetic condition that causes hearing loss and eventual vision loss. This is the short version of our journey with Jackson’s hearing loss.

Here in India, we knew we would have to establish care and check his hearing every 3 months. After a couple ear infections and an increasingly louder 3 year old, we suspected his hearing was changing. We were so grateful to find an ENT and an audiologist within 5 minutes from our home! Remember, perspective.

I had a folder full of reports on all of Jackson’s medical history and I confidently strode into the audiology office ready to get a hearing check up. Soon I was to find out that there was too much room for error between the audiology test he had in the U.S, and the one here. This meant, that in order to get an accurate reading on his current hearing level he would need to be put to sleep and have another ABR test done. As much as I was freaking out inside, I knew we had to get this done to see if his hearing had declined and then have his hearing aids reset.

“Mam? Give this medicine to your son and when he is asleep we will begin the test.”

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA. You want me to give Jackson medicine, without any nutella or anything? Oh boy. After a few attempts to get the medicine down his throat in the office we were asked to take him outside and try again. I am guessing because his gag reflex was too much for the floor and the other patients.

Fast forward a few hours later, we had given up. Mom and Dad-0, Jackson-1. We got into the tuk tuk, hot, exhausted and defeated. Five minutes later when we arrived home, Jackson was asleep in my arms! You bet we turned right around and went back to the doctors office. I felt like a war hero carrying my 43lb son up 4 flights of stairs in the middle of 105 degree heat to get him back to the Doctor with enough time for her to conduct the test before he awakened.

An hour later we had the results. 24 hours later we were discussing them in her office. 2 hours later his hearing aids were reset and another hour later we were on our way home. Notice I kept saying, hour later?….. So if you can imagine all the time in between, with a 3 year old who has no volume control, refuses to do what anyone tells him and his favorite activity is to pretend to be a dinosaur. I was toast. Cooked. Fried.

BUT! Perspective. My Son could hear! Amen and Amen and Amen.

Week 8. Just a spoonful of nutella.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30

I read once that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 60+ days to change your life. So at this point in our journey I believe it is safe to say we have experienced incredible life change and new habits. For example, I used to have ice cream almost every night before bed. You know, that sweet tooth night cap? But now, I am regularly so thirsty from the heat and dust that all I want is water and salt! I have always considered myself a sweets person over salty, but potato chips have NEVER tasted so good.

Another great change, is that in America, I always took a doctors word for gold! But here, I am finding that I follow a Doctor visit with a google search on “what are the 7 medicines he just prescribed for me to give my 3 year old?” I can barely get Jackson to eat his meals let alone take any medicine. Thus, I had to give my boys a heaping scoop of nutella every day this week to get them to take their antibiotics. Fortunately the medicine had a peppermint taste so I assume it tasted like a spoonful of peppermint patty. Coughs and sniffles have consumed each one of us lately. So I was grateful to have my oils when after I had used all the medicine I could think of, coughs were still keeping the kids and myself up. I used the Young Living Breathe Again Roll-on for me and Snifflease oil for the kids, and shortly thereafter…… sleep came.

Another change is that I used to take my second cup of coffee in the afternoon. 2 cups a day isn’t bad? Now, I can barely make it past 9:30 without a second cup. Maybe it’s because by 10 am my head is swimming with Hindi words during our language class. When there is only 2 students and one teacher, it is pretty obvious if you can’t keep your eyes open. I also blame the fact that India is for night owls. The evening brings bareable temps allowing for evening walks, parks, work and just simple socializing. Needless to say our kids are up for 15 hours a day!! NOT.A.FAN.

some of the objects we are learning.

We did get invited to our first Indian birthday party this week for our friend’s 5-year old son. It was excellent! Complete with a paw patrol theme, a bouncy house, countless balloons, cake and party favors. It was so wonderful to see them so happy. However, I learned a little too late that you can not simply run to a pharmacy or party city to get wrapping paper. In fact, I still have no idea where to go to get gift wrap! I felt so embarassed to offer the gift in a bag with not even any tissue paper. I will have to research this before the next one!

The heat is increasing. I am still finding it hard to stay hydrated. I noticed that many people here wear white to beat the heat. So I decided to find an all white Kurta for the super hot days. Maybe it was the beautiful handiwork that drew me to this one, or maybe it was the song “Hopelessly Devoted to you” from Grease playing in the background (random right?). But the one I chose makes me want to run through a field of daisies and sing “the Hills are alive!” This Kurta is also very light. Which reminded me of today’s verse. Weeks here are a roller coaster full of ups and downs. And long days make for swollen and tired eyes and weary hearts. But I look to Him. That is where my help comes from.

I was grateful that we got to experience some new adventures this week. Gracelyn and I started yoga! Our language teacher connected us to his friend who is a professional yoga athlete and teacher and she came to our home to teach us. I was so excited to get active and even better, in the comfort of our home. I have not tried to exercise outside in public yet or go to a gym. I had been feeling pretty out of shape and was eager to get back into it. As always, upon exercising I was reminded that my mind thinks I am still a college athlete while my body cries out in defiance, “Oh no, you don’t. I will defeat you with arthritis and scar tissue! Leave my atrophying muscles alone.” You can only imagine how my hamstrings felt the next day after doing several rounds of surya namaskar. NO PICTURES for this one, somethings are better unseen.

The other adventure was a day of sightseeing over the weekend. We had not done a major tourist outing since we were hounded by hawkers at Amer Fort. We were hopeful that being 2 months in we were not so wet behind the ears. We also decided to pick a few places and keep the visit duration to a minimum. The first was Jaipur zoo! Which is actually, no longer a zoo. That’s always fun to find out….while you are buying tickets and about to go in with 3 very excited children. Turns out the majority of animals were sent to a nature reserve while the remaining wildlife consisted of birds.

yay…..

To my surprise, it turned out to be great. And hilarious. For one, I have never in my life seen an ostrich the size of an elephant nor a pelican the size of a 12 year old boy before. So there was that. I have also never seen a museum of taxidermy animals in a zoo. But most of all, I have never been to a zoo where there is one monkey on the inside of the cage and the other monkey on the outside. At first we were excited to see the monkeys. But then we realized the one on the outside was clinging to the one on the inside and Jackson turned around and in sign language said monkey followed by signing the word “sad.” Later that night Gracelyn prayed that the monkeys would be reunited.

We also ventured to a museum. That was a fail. We lasted 10 minutes before meltdown 0′ clock started and people were sight seeing us more than the museum. So we bolted and headed to City Palace. This was a risk. We almost went home because the kids did not seem to be interested in history. Until there was a Bollywood movie filming in the center of city palace!!! 30-40 Indian women dressed in matching sarees, smoke machines, music and lots of “1-2-3 action AND cut!” I hope we get to find out what movie was being filmed someday. Attention spans run low with our crew, so after about 5 takes when the kids realized we were only going to see the same 30 seconds over and over again we needed to move on. And to our luck, we ended at a phenomenal puppet show where the puppeteers had their puppets perform a traditional Indian dance, a cobra and charmer dance and of course, an Indian Michael Jackson dance….. only India.

Our outing was a victory. We saw the sights, had a great time as a family, and I believe many people went home with a snapshot of us in their photo gallery on their phones.

Yes, random strangers took pictures of us and our children ALL. DAY. Encouraged for next week’s language class so I can learn how to say, “take pictures of the animals please, not my children.”

Routine. Week 7.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,..” Colossians 3:12

I did not realize how thirsty we were for a routine. Language school and Homeschooling has been so healthy. When you are with the same people all day long with no schedule or order and 3 of them are under 7 years old, it can get ugly. Boredom can set in for young children, no matter what country you live in. Taking turns has been necessity. We have been diligent to give one another breaks from the kids and solo time while also trading off which child gets to run an errand with us. My favorite moment was probably when Garret walked with me at night to the local grocer and he wore his head lamp to light the path. He is an excellent grocery shopping partner. Probably because he usually gets his own Limca at the end of the trip.

Monday was Election Day, so there was no language class and most people took off of work. A fascinating detail I learned about Election Day was that after one voted they would get a henna tattoo on their finger nail to prove that they had voted and also to ensure that they do not try to vote again. Fascinating. And despite any concerns, our city was safe from any political turmoil.

Wednesday our cook came for the first time! This is also custom here and I was very excited to have her help us out because meals have been hard! Cooking an Indian dish, which is what most markets primarily provide ingredients for, is difficult and very time consuming. When you have 3 kids you are homeschooling, one with attention and sensory issues and one with hearing aids and speech delay, spending a lot of time in the kitchen is actually dangerous. For real. We do not have a dishwasher or a dryer for laundry so some days it felt like I was stuck on wash, rinse repeat between cooking, washing dishes and doing laundry. It is also almost 100 degrees in our kitchen and when I am finished I feel like I ran a marathon and come out only to find our home and the kids in disarray. So having an experienced cook provide a healthy meal of rice and Dahl is a dream come true!

The day before she came, our landlord took me out to the market to get all of the supplies to set up our kitchen for Indian cooking. This was such a positive experience that I wish I had done this for those who were just coming to America and trying to navigate Walmart!

Also this week, a friend of mine invited me to get a manicure and pedicure! I felt so blessed to have been invited and to get my India-ravaged feet, pampered. We live in the dessert, even though it is a city. And it has taken its toll on our feet.

A few other wins for the week were that I saw my first monkey, well 3 to be exact. Two were crossing the street and one was carrying its baby! Now I am sure that soon I will detest to see a monkey for they are rumored to be angry and frustrating animals here, but for now they remain as cute as the ones I have seen in the zoo.

I also finally started winning the battle with Jackson to take his medication for his infections and for eating protein. This had been a huge prayer. He has always struggled with eating and has a very limited diet. Once we arrived in India, it was like all he would eat is crackers and that IS IT. So to see him swallow his medicine and eggs made me want to cry!

Adam also started making sports connections around town which was super exciting as we look forward to opportunities to arise for his job with an International Sports Agency.

I had another YL essential oil win when the kids rolled around in something called Carrot Grass and couldn’t stop itching. After a bath I was able to use the recipe “Scratchless spray” which included purification, lavender and peppermint mixed with witch hazel. I felt relief to see my kiddos get relief.

To end my week I took a solo trip to curious life, a coffee shop that a friend told me about where I had a Vietnamese Cold coffee and it was amazing. I followed it up with a trip to the store fabindia where I got Adam a coffee mug so he can stop drinking his coffee out of a regular cup and to cottfab where I found my latest Kurta.

This one made me feel like Me. Like Heather. Ya know when you find something, and if someone was with you they would say, “Oh that is so you!” I found it. And it was the most inexpensive Kurta I have found! I was so excited. But this trip also left me intrigued. There is a whole other part to each clothing store that I have not explored. It is the side of the store where you buy your material by the meter and they will hand tailor your request.

Most people do this to get a Saree or Poshak made. Upon being asked if I wanted this service, I replied, “Not yet.” I do not know when it will be required of me to wear this kind of Indian dress, and when it is I will have to have it made. Truthfully, I am intimated by the idea of wearing a Saree. And here in our city, and where we live the traditional wear seems to be changing. Many women are wearing western clothes and others are wearing Indian clothes but are foregoing the dupatta or scarf.

But I feel the time will be coming soon, that I get to experience more of the richness of this culture.

The battle for wifi. Week 6.

“For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2

It has been a week. We have seen several appointments for wifi installation come and go. A cultural lesson I am sure.

When the Wifi guy or the Ac repair man says, I will be there tomorrow at noon, it is common that he may come early, he may come late or not at all. There is also no voicemail service here on cellphones, so people just make missed calls frequently. And if you are calling a service number, you are most likely to get a recording. Now add the language barrier in there and you have the perfect recipe for extreme frustration. Especially when the two items you need help with are your air conditioning and your internet.

Needless to say, that would have been all I remembered about week six had I not been taking down weekly notes!

So here were the victories this week! Our washing machine, stove and microwave/convection oven were all installed this week. A working kitchen! I unpacked the last suitcase and we stored all of the suitcases out of sight. Officially moved in. Our house helper started this week helping with washing the floors and bathrooms as is custom here. We started language school two hours a day in the morning to learn Hindi AND we started homeschooling the kids!

Unfortunately the boys came down with respiratory, pinkeye and ear infections. But we had some laughs this week too. To conserve water, it is common to take bucket baths. The boys have enjoyed them, filling the bucket up with water and dumping it over their heads. Well, Jackson must have really been under the weather because he decided to crawl in the bucket, where he proceeded to get stuck, butt in, feet dangling out, and asleep! A sight I have never seen before for sure.

Also this week I had several errands to run which forced me to take 5 different Uber car rides. This was a victory for me because I never enjoy riding an Uber solo because it always caused me great fear. Maybe I was high on productivity, or maybe it was my YL Valor that brought me such great confidence and motivation, either way I was feeling proud.

As the last Uber pulled up to take me home, I had a handful of items such as a toddler bathtub, cleaning supplies and cups etc. The Uber driver got out of the car to load my items in the trunk and accidentally locked us out of his car while it was still running! Not only that, but he blocked the other cars in to their parking spots.

Thirty minutes later, after he made several phone calls to receive help unlocking his car, the man he blocked in decided to use his own car key to see if it would unlock his car. To all of our shock, IT DID! ONLY INDIA!

well, after all that excitement I was excited to relax. It was our first weekend in our new home and we were ecstatic about just lounging and enjoying finally being settled. And guess what? The internet guy came! AND the AC got repaired. We watched netflix and slept in a cool room.

BLISS.

As for Kurtas this week. The only story I have is still pending. Since we got our washer installed, I have been able to wash my own laundry. The only downside on this, is when we lived in the hotel, we had to send our laundry out and when it came back, it had also been pressed! Now that I am washing my own clothes, air drying Kurtas on my front porch does not help the wrinkles. So I decided to utilize the presswala service that the LandLord gave to me. Again, this is very common culturally to have clothes, especially Indian dress sent to the presswala, who is usually employed at the corner of the street in a neighborhood and handles all the local pressing for that community.

Well, I have not seen my Kurtas since I sent them out…..

I will let you know the end to this story when I find out. Fingers crossed, I hope to see my Kurtas again!

A month in a hotel.

“He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

Two weeks. We thought it would only be two weeks. It is now one month, living out of a hotel. We have equated this to the days of Disney. When we lived in Orlando and had annual Disney passes, we would often be able to identify the families who were at the end of their “magical vacation.” And now, it was us. We were cheering our kids on if they ate all of their McDonalds. And Traveler’s sickness was taking its toll.

I went down for a solid 24 hours, Garrett did as well and Jackson was starting to see the impact from drinking the water. Yes, he drank the water. Let me clarify. He drank the water from a decorative fountain in the airport at customs immediately upon arrival in country. That is how fast it took for one of my children to do the very thing you are not supposed to do in India…. immediately.

So we took our kids to their very first doctor in India. And following the appointment we walked over to the chemist to get our prescriptions. All stocked up, we returned to the hotel and hoped for better days to come. I also broke into my Young Living stash and found Digize to be a lifesaver!

Unfortunately, we found out the house we were looking for was not an option. In fact, we began to realize that what we were looking for in a home was simply not available in where we looking in town.

So we decided to extend our search to C-Scheme. We likened the first area we househunted to be like Mclean, Va and the second area, C-scheme to be like Arlington. More city, but lots of perks.

I also did lots of furniture shopping so that I would be prepared when the time came that we found a home.

AND WE DID! C-Scheme. Royal Saket Apartments. Near to Central Park, the Camel Park, Deer Park and several coffee joints.

It was bittersweet that we also had to move out of our beloved Hotel Gtanjali two days before our flat was ready and also the day before Easter. Moving our 15+ suitcases up two flights of stairs into an AirBNB is not easy nor ideal, but it was what it was. I hung my Kurtas on the curtain rod of the bedroom to keep them from wrinkling. And I felt weary from hotel living. However weary, on Easter morning, as I got ready, I could not hold back the tears as I realized I would be celebrating that Jesus defeated death FOR US.

Dressing up for Easter this year looked a lot different than the days of Easter dresses and bonnets. Easter has also looked like pajamas all day and eating easter candy. This Year, I wanted to wear my Sunday best, but wearing your Sunday best in a Kurta is just different. But I must say I have never worn palazzo pants with so much beautiful handiwork! I learned from a veteran expat here that if someone invites you over to their house, that is the time to break out your fancier Kurta. The one with embellishments and sparkles. So I did!

To add to the excitement, also the day before move-in, Gracelyn gouged her finger and we were concerned she needed to go to the hospital for stitches. We also knew that she has intense PTSD from the car accident in 2017 and getting her to let a doctor treat her these days is fairly traumatic. So we treated the cut diligently at home and thank the Lord it healed on its own!

Praising God for His incredible Love and grace. And Looking forward to next week to move into our home!

People, places and things.

“I will rejoice greatly in the Lord. My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

Week 2 in review ya’ll. WEEK TWO! We are alive and it is week two. Praise the Lord for every day, am I right? You never know. You have met our children right? Yea, with these three strong-willed knuckleheads… you never know.

I would like to call this week, Amrapali. Because that is where we spent most of our time. We also truly believed we would end up finding a home, right on the outside of Amrapali Park, where we frequented around 530pm each day. This is where we met our first local friends, this is where brought our badminton racquets and cricket bats and soccer balls, in hopes of keeping the kids entertained and making some new friends.

The Road in front of this park holds a host of shops where we purchased our sports equipment, purchased some toys for the kids, since we only brought a little, found a Burger King!! And also the infamous National Handloom, where Americans go to get lost and confused! Well, for certain if you arrive after 5pm. But I will share more about that place later.

Some highlights from this week were:

FabIndia, an incredible shop across from our hotel, where I got the kids their first Indian dress.

Brown Sugar, a restaurant walking distance from the hotel that served amazing indian and continental food that included quite the nutella waffle menu.

Jacobs Road, where a friend took me to some shops and a quaint dessert place where i discovered that Jaipur has hidden gems all over the city. One can never guess what is inside the buildings when driving. My friend wanted to help me acquire some Indian dress, so I was so excited when I found a Kurta that made me feel like a princess.

However, this kurta began an interesting dialogue at Amrapali Park. As our kids were playing, I was able to get to know a couple of other mothers in the park. One mom asked me, “Do you like wearing Indian dress?” My reply was an emphatic, “Yes!” “I love to wear Indian Kurtas because they are so beautiful, and they are so light and airy in this heat!” Which then she asked, “How do you do with all this attention?” (referring to the fact that as a foreigner with fair skin, everyone is watching.) I replied, “The Kurta makes me feel more comfortable, like I can blend in.”

A wonderful highlight from this week was seeing the movie Dumbo. We had family movie night at a movie theater where there is an actual slide inside for the kids to play on during previews as well as during the intermission. Indian movies have intermissions because they are known to be very long.

We saw a Ladhha, aka a camel pulling a trailer down the road and we visited the guy who sells water down the street wayyyyy too much. 4 2L bottles a day. We also frequented Easy Day, the local market to restock on crackers, Biscuits and noodles. Parle, Digestive, Marie Gold, Nice, Maggi became well known food items in our hotel and FYI, they are the opposite of gluten free, but great to dip in your chai tea.

Adam got to go to an IPL game! Future cricket strength coach??

And, the kids got cricket bats and had an incredible time playing at the park with the locals.

The house hunt began, and the we thought we found THE one.

Inside was enough space for 3 bedrooms and a school room, and a rooftop to enjoy as well! The location was perfect, near parks for the kids to play and in the town we had been getting to know so well during our stay in Hotel Gitanjili.

So we put in our interest, and then we wait. Will this house be where we set up home?

We are actually here.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” Psalm 30:11

It took me a minute to believe we made it to India. Actually, several, frozen minutes in time. After years of preparation, months of recalibration and many, many, many moments of “I’ll believe it when I see it…”, we are here.

We even made it with all except one bag! Which came later to our surprise.

I have been so eager to share our memories from each week. In fact, as I write this, we are 6 weeks in so here it goes.

Week 1 in Review:

Plane rides for kids were epic-unlimited tv and snacks!

Fresh Lime Soda- a drink I had when we visited here in October 2017 and could not wait to have again. I think this was the moment I felt, yesss we made it.

Playground hopping and outdoor exercise parks: USA, INDIA, it does not matter what country….. our kids are still outdoor kids.

Elephant Ride to Amer Fort- not as glorious as it looks. About one minute after you sit in the reality you are riding an elephant, the “hawkers” start offering this and that souvenir. And when you have a 5 year old who they are enticing…..you end up with…..Garrett the Maharaja. This was one of many hats he tried on.

City Palace was the treasure at the top. A place to visit again for sure to learn more about the history.

Tuk Tuk Rides- our main mode of transportation. UberAuto it is called. Yes, you can uber a tuk tuk…..

Hotel Gtanjali- our first home here in Jaipur. We imagined it would be only a couple weeks, but 5 weeks later…..

And of Course…. My first Kurta

Purchasing my first Kurta was quite the experience. I felt like the queen of England. So many employees stepping forward to offer their assistance. I thought the female employee might try to dress me inside the dressing room! I understand now that service by the hands of many is a cultural norm here.

I also understand now that Indians may have more narrow upper bodies. They size me up, but every time I try on the Kurta they give me, I get stuck in it in the dressing room. I have not ripped one yet though, so phewf.



Adam is getting a good deal here though! In the states it was always messy bun, leggings, big tee shirt and no makeup (which I am still a fan of). Here I am adorned with beautiful clothing, nails painted and makeup for the day! I guess you could say I am “keeping up with the (Indian) Joneses.”

Kurtas have helped my transition greatly. For several reasons.

  • They are light and airy in this Indian heat
  • I feel more comfortable in public and draw less attention than I would in western clothes
  • Upon arrival I was given several opportunities to get Indian attire which equates to, “honey, take some time to yourself and go shopping!” Nothing like retail therapy when you are feeling all the feels of moving to another country.
  • Each Kurta also has a story. Hence the title of my blog. Each Kurta can tell a lot about where I was at that point of time, physically, emotionally and the like and also how much has changed or how much I have grown.

I am excited to share my journey with you and the journey of our children. The kids have been doing amazing, praise the Lord. It might be because their first days in country have been epic. Ice cream, playgrounds, new toys, Nutella on everything and lots of attention from the locals (which at first was exciting).

I am grateful we made it and I am grateful we have been able to make our arrival an adventure of exploration with our children. Next week we will continue to get to know the area and surrounding areas to identify where we want to begin our house hunting.