Indonesia

10 years. We have been married 10 years! What better way to celebrate then heading to

BALI!!!

Bali is a place that we would never have visited had we not already been on this side of the world. So we decided to spend our first two weeks of Indonesia in Bali before heading to an island in Indonesia called Sulawesi. We saved up some birthday money since Garrett, Adam, Jackson and Gracelyn all had birthdays in the past 3 months and decided to stay at a hotel with an awesome kids pool and slide. They were so pumped. The day after we arrived it was Jackson’s 4th birthday. We had so much fun celebrating and enjoyed the hotel staff as they helped us celebrate Jackson too.

The beach was a close walk from our hotel and we got to see so many sea creatures just wading in the shallow waters.

The kids had so many questions about Balinese culture. every where we turned there were statues and gargoyles and temples.

In fact, we were all so intrigued that we decided to rent scooters one day and travel through town to visit a place called Puja Mandala. In one location, side by side are 5 different places of worship including a Hindu temple, a Mosque, a Buddhist temple and both Catholic and Protestant churches.

As intrigued as we were by the various religions and presence of endless puja stands every 5 feet, there was one place that captivated the kids attention like no other.

……Pirate Bay.

Our kids have had quite the cultural experiences this past year. As much as we hope to have deep probing question and answer sessions with them about what they are seeing, how it makes them feel, or what they think, we know that they are kiddos. In one breath Garrett will ask us, “Do they believe in Jesus” and before we can get an answer out, he’ll shout, “What! A pirate ship!!!!”

All these things for some reason reminded me of a passage of scripture in Luke 2:15-20, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherd returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

I don’t know why I keep thinking about this passage when I think about my kids and all that they have seen and witnessed this past year. Maybe I am storing all these realities up in my heart, and maybe they are too. For example, walking through Bali there were so many offerings on the ground made of flowers and straw, leaves and incense. The kids would sometimes accidentally step on them or knock them over. We asked a local about their significance. The reply was that the offerings on the ground are to ward off the evil spirits and the offerings up high on the temples and statues are to encourage the good spirits. Of course there is so much more to it than that.

Every space available had a temple or statue and offering and it appeared that a great deal of motivation behind the daily rituals was that of thanksgiving and fear, all to appease the spirits. Do not get me wrong, I am by no means an expert on world religions. I only understand as much as I learned by seeing and asking questions.

But witnessing these practices caused me to reflect in thanksgiving on the freedom I feel that I have in my faith in Jesus Christ. I have stored up this treasure in my heart that daily I know that I can not earn His love or appease His wrath. There is only one God and one mediator, Jesus. My righteousness is in Him alone. He was the ultimate sacrifice and nothing I do or do not do can add to what He has already done. In Psalm 51 16-17 it says, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O god you will not despise.” It is by realizing that I am broken, and sinful and in need of a savior that brings me to my knees daily, thanking the Lord for His grace and unconditional love.

I am also so grateful for the chance to see so many different people, cultures and worldviews, stuff that I had only read about, I have had the chance to see firsthand. And Bali had so much to it. I am so grateful that we had the chance to visit Bali both in tourist areas and local living. I surprised myself how much I enjoyed the food! But one of the coolest things we did was visit to a Luwak coffee plantation. It was there that we learned that Luwak coffee has a special backstory. The coffee beans are eaten by a furry little animal kind of like a raccoon or cat. The animal then poops it out, processing the bean even further. Which is then dried and crushed. The sight of Garrett taking part in the process made me laugh since he has always had a fascination with helping us make our morning coffee. We all enjoyed a spread of various different teas from the plantation. My two favorite were mangosteen and lemongrass. The avocado tea was surprising as well. Later in the day we hiked through some rice paddy fields. It was invigorating to take in the culture, the outdoors, the agriculture and to see our children’s faces light up with intrigue.

Our last day in Bali was Halloween! Still can’t wrap my head around what time of year it is while we are over here in the tropics. Adam and the boys had a fishing date while myself Gracelyn and a friend of ours went out to the local grocery store to find some unique treats for our trick-or treating evening planned at our friends house. Early the next morning we were back at the airport and off to Sulawesi, Indonesia.

I wish I could share more about our time in Sulawesi. Unfortunately, I fell very sick on day two. So sick that I was tested for dengue fever twice. I still do not know what I had, but I never want it again. The upside was we celebrated our beautiful first born’s 8th birthday, AND I got to have another Starbucks!

See you in Malaysia!……

Thailand

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

One week before leaving on a 3 month visa run, Jackson fell off the bed, got a nice slice in the back of his head that required stitches. 

Lord, have mercy.

6 months in India and I was soooo close to avoiding a hospital run! But these kiddos gotta keep me on my toes. On the bright side, he was able to get the stitches removed one day before our flight to Thailand. An answer to prayer since we were planning on swimming for the next 2 months!

In case I forgot to mention, we are limited to 180 days in India for 2019. This meant I had the incredible challenge of packing up our family of five with 3 months worth of necessities while also packing up our home to protect it from dust and mold. We only just arrived in India at the end of March, so since we were already out for 90 days, we only have to be out for 90 days more! ONLY! 

Haha. I hope you mistake my sarcasm for optimism! 

In one sense, a 90 day trek through South East Asia is a dream come true! With three kiddos under 7, let’s just say it’s a “dream” and leave room for interpretation. Our plans were to spend 30 days in 3 different locations, Thailand, Indonesia and Nepal.

We arrived in Thailand after a red eye flight and took a 5 hour bus ride down to the beach. After catching some z’s, we took a walk outside and it was love at first sight. From that moment on we spent all of our time soaking in the fresh air, blue skies and beautiful views. 

To help you better experience the fresh air with us, here is a little background.

We landed in India one month prior to the heat of summer (aka 115 temps) and monsoon season. This limited us greatly from any quality outdoor time. Getting outside was always a challenge. We depended on uber or hailing down a tuk-tuk to get around. Either way, it was never a seamless transition. 3 kids without carseats, motion sickness, language barriers and a map that was never quite accurate made us wish we could walk everywhere. However, with no real sidewalks and a traffic system that looked like the racing of the bulls prevented us from taking a stroll to the park. We were all so thirsty for outside time that we spent the next 7 consecutive days rotating between the pool, the beach and bike riding. Dream come true…check!

And the dream would have continued for the next 7 days at the beach but the kids wore out their bathing suits so much they all got bathing swim rashes! I have never seen anything slow Garrett down the way that rash did. We tried to mix it up and still had a great time as we ventured out to the local markets, explored more of the beach front looking for shells and took a chance on scooter rides. My first time driving a scooter and it was life breathing! I had not driven a vehicle since we left America and the autonomy of doing so brought a refreshing sense of independence.

After 14 days in Dolphin Bay, Thailand, it was time to move north to Chiang Mai. Our city in India actually has medical care beyond what we expected. However, our family has some needs that require specialists and many other expats had encouraged us Bangkok and Chiang Mai were the places to go. Thus, we planned our trip that we would spend the first 2 weeks decompressing with the healing outdoors and the next weeks getting checkups.

The place we stayed at in Chiang Mai was filled with families with young children just like ours, plenty of outdoor play room, a pool and 3 square meals a day. The kids made instant friends with other expats and we all enjoyed having good, nutritional meals and company. I especially loved the daily laundry service.

We were all able to get an annual checkup, a dental checkup, some debriefing over our past 6 months transition to India and some western food! One of my highlights from our time in Chiang Mai was finding out that the anxiety medicine that I had refilled in India was most likely a placebo and I am not crazy!! Haha. For real. I had been wondering why my medicine was not as effective for the past couple months and after having a checkup I was able to get the real thing and it was a night and day difference, praise the Lord!

But without a doubt, I think the kids would say that their favorite part about Chiang Mai was going to the Elephant Sanctuary and to the Chiang Mai Night Safari for church! Yes, you heard me right! We got connected with a church that held its services at a zoo! After service you get to walk around and see some animals for free!

While in Chiang Mai, we had hoped we would be able to get Jackson’s hearing checked and Garrett an evaluation with a pediatric behavioral psychologist. We needed to check in on his pre-existing sensory processing disorder/potentially ADHD. Unfortunately, Chiang Mai did not have the speciality services we thought they had. In fact, we had appointments scheduled for both boys and when we arrived to check in, that is when we found out that they were actually scheduled at the Bangkok location. Same hospital, different city.

UGH!

So we cut our time short in Chiang Mai and travelled to Bangkok. We were not excited about this because our family of 5 in a hotel in the city for 5 days is not a pretty picture. Especially after having left a city and relished in the outdoors for the previous 3 weeks.

Regardless, of the the less than ideal circumstances, we praise God that we were able to get the services we needed for our boys. Garrett had an evaluation with an excellent doctor and we were able to identify his ADHD clinically and get the treatment and resources that we needed. We were also able to establish care for Jackson and get the ball rolling on his future hearing test that we will need in December.

For fun, we went to the movies and let the kids get some energy out at a trampoline park!

So in one month we stayed in 4 different hotels. So far so good. Hard to believe there are two months left if not more before we can return to India. We had great adventures and great respite. We also had time to reflect on how the past 6 months in India was for our family and for ourselves as individuals. Upon leaving India, I was not very thrilled about this forced travel, but I found myself grateful. Grateful to step out, literally, pause and reflect. No matter where I go, I know who I am. Made in Christ and sustained by Him. Cared for and guided by a Sovereign God who knows every hair on my head and every day that has passed and is to come.

And to be honest, it was refreshing to wear a teeshirt and shorts, throw my hair back up into a messy bun and remember myself before India. I packed only 3 Kurtas for our trip! I knew that in Thailand and Indonesia I would be able to wear more western clothes but in Nepal, our last stop on our trip, I will need to take the Kurtas back out. Until then, bring on the western wear and Starbucks!

TRANSITION

“We have this treasure in jars of clay…” 2 Cor 4:7-9

We have all heard this word before. So many meanings for one word. So many visuals.

For those giving birth……. transition!

For those with kids….. transition!!

For big life changes and new stages of life- transition.

Sometimes this word brings hope and excitement. Sometimes dread.

For me, the word transition is often used when my husband and I develop our battle strategy against the kids once we turn the TV off. We actually use the word to our children, namely Garrett and say, “OK bud, this is a transition. Watching TV was so great and it is always hard when the fun ends…… but nobody needs to get hurt…”

Just kidding…. or not. But seriously, whenever we shift from one activity to another, one choice to another, one moment to another, we have a “transition.” If it is one that is against the will of the children….. well then, good luck.

At this point in our time here in India, the transition upon us was a shift from going to an office every day for our language class, to staying home and having our language class happen here. After several weeks of our family going to an office for Hindi class, this transition meant waking up and getting ready to have people come to OUR home. So for the past few weeks we have been navigating having our friend/ language teacher as well as our friend/childcare worker come to our home for 3-5 hours each day.

As with most changes to a routine, this one has not been easy, nor smooth, but the kids have “transitioned” as good as can be expected. In fact, with so much time spent in the house, they seem to have experienced a revived interest in using their imaginations! Play time has included making elaborate scenes with small figurines and miniature doll furniture and building lego homes, cars and robots. We are most encouraged that we are officially half way done with the school year! Homeschool has been a gift. Watching them learn and grow is priceless. However, I do have some new white hairs, actually many. So maybe homeschool isn’t totally “priceless.”

When we are outside, their sense of adventure and exploration has grown tremendously. Aside from riding bikes and scooters, they are most interested in discovering new insects or birds. India often offers a special sight to behold. Just the other day we went downstairs to the front yard of our apartment complex to find 5 green parrots feeding in the bird feeder! Simple as it may sound, we all stopped and watched silently for at least 10 minutes.

Bike riding became “cool” again as well! So much that Garrett in one day decided he would learn to ride his bike without training wheels. Transition! And it was a success! He made 15 laps around the compound on his first try!

Recently, we ventured out to a local “kids carnival” held in the courtyard of a palace. We were all so excited to get out and enjoy festivities and be amongst other families. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the memo that no one actually shows up at the start of the festival. So in the dead heat of the day, we lasted an hour, but they had a lot of fun and I got a sweet memento.

For Adam and I, August brought a special celebration. On August 8th, it was our ten-year anniversary. I still can’t believe we get to say 10 years! Crazy to reflect that on our 1st Anniversary we were in Ethiopia, and here on our 10th, we are again abroad. But this anniversary holds 5 months abroad instead of 12 days. We are feeling it too. Homesickness has not seemed to diminish.

On our actual anniversary we had a wonderful breakfast date at a place called “Home Cafe.” Oh,”home”, the irony. I guess you could say home is where the coffee is? Maybe? just kidding. But the lattes were incredible. And, as we make our plans for our 90 days of travel that will be upon us soon, we dreamt about potentially celebrating our anniversary in Bali!

Gracelyn and I also had our first haircuts here in India! Yes, it has officially been more than half of a year since we got our haircuts. You can only imagine how incredible our freshly cut ends felt when taking our first shower post haircut. You know, that feeling when you drag your hands across the ends of your hair under the water and it feels light and airy and even! No more split ends, no more shedding. Can I get an amen? Long-haired gals hear me. My fave part of this hair cut however, was when my male hairdresser let me know I had a reverse ombre thing going on since it had been over half a year since my last highlight. I think It’s official, I am not sure I can be categorized a blonde! Dirty blonde maybe….. those white hairs though! Ugh. Transition!

They loved Gracelyn though. So much that when the power went out and I suggested no worries, we usually do not get our hair blow dryed anyway, they requested we wait for the power to return so they can style her hair….. and then as always, take pics! I think she enjoyed the pampering.

August was not only our anniversary month, but this year on the 15th, India was celebrating their Independence Day as well as a holiday called Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan. This is a Hindu festival celebrating the relationship between brothers and sisters. We were very excited to be invited by some local friends to join them during the festivities. While we did not celebrate the complete version of the holiday, we did enjoy getting the little bracelets that you give to one another, specifically for Gracelyn to give her brothers!

Tradition goes that the sister ties the bracelet on her brothers wrist and then he promises to protect her! I was so excited to help Gracelyn and her brothers develop a stronger bond! Anything to combat sibling rivalry, am I right? Our friends were gracious to let us watch their family exchange gifts and participate a little ourselves. And highlight, I FINALLY wore a Saree!!! I had one made with the Lehariya pattern which is specific to monsoon season (which we are in) and I had at least 3 different women help me wrap that day because I am a Saree novice. At one point I just wrapped it a couple times around my neck and tied it in a knot. So classy!

We enjoyed an outing with friends recently. It was so good for the kids to play with other kids and to explore new places outdoors. It was so good for us to fellowship with another couple who gets parenting multiples and in another country. It was great to see our children smile and at times literally grow up before our eyes. Jackson had his first soda, Gracelyn braved a rope swing made out of tree vines and Garrett climbed a massive tree attempting to do everything that his 13 year old friend could do. Oh sweet transitions.

I was fascinated by the roots and vines on the trees at this particular park. It was a playground/temple/graveyard. Interesting mix, but not uncommon here. The trees though, they were beautiful. Roots exposed and vines growing downwards from other tree branches. It was remarkable.

Beneath the great tree that the kids climbed, there was a lot of debris including broken pots, paper plates, wrappers, branches etc… A group of 3 young Indian guys were hanging out on a nearby bench and one wanted to let me know that the tree that the kids were climbing was at the site of a graveyard. Unsure if we had offended them, I asked in which he responded that it was OK for us to play but then went on to ask me about the jewelry market in America. There was so much about this moment that left me feeling unsettled. Maybe because what caught my eye the most was the several discarded idols on the ground.

In no way would we want to dishonor or disrespect a sacred area, just so that our children could climb one of the best climbing trees I had ever seen! But, I had a hard time feeling the honor when there were so many discarded worship items left to waste away along with the mouth freshener wrappers and paper plates.

I confess there is much I do not know or understand here. And my reflection of this experience is not meant to disrespect. But my mind was whirling. I couldn’t get my eyes off of the clay pots, broken and collecting dirt and leaves on the ground. I kept thinking of how often I see clay pots being sold on the roadside, too many to count. New clay pots for sale next to old and used clay pots left and discarded. I kept recalling the words clay pots from scripture verses I had read. ” We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9.

So many people, so many clay pots. Fragile, yet containing great treasure. Visually seeing something that is referenced in scripture makes it come to life all the more. It made me give thanks, that though weak-willed, selfish or fearful at times, this clay pot of mine holds within a great treasure, a great light shining in my heart.

Mom, look! It’s Heaven!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

From the mouths of babes….

Upon landing in Dharamshala and exiting the plane, we turned around to see the most breathtaking view. Immediately, Garrett exclaimed, “Mom, look! It’s heaven!” My feeling exactly. It felt amazing to be surrounded by such a sight.

Pictures just don’t do it justice. But we were so excited to spend our weekend in the foothills of the Himilayan mountains.

We stayed at a hotel called the Pink Hotel. It had a spectacular view of the mountains as well. And it should, because we had to go 60 steps down from the main road which was already on the side of a mountain, and then another 6 flights up to our hotel room.

Our weekend away included visiting friends, riding on a scootie, going on a date, drinking coffee, hiking up to a water fall, and enjoying the view.

As you can see, our adventures in the mountains included goats, fog, and an adventurous spirit.

You see, the hike to the waterfall included a large portion of hiking with no side railing, at the top. AT.THE.TOP. It would have been nice to know that before we started since our group included 3 little mischievous hikers. Thankful that we bought the kids each an umbrella before we started because it rained for the majority of the time. But it was fresh mountain rain! So it’s OK right? hahaha.

Our scootie date ride also included consistent rain, up winding tight turns on a mountain for over 30 minutes. But we made it! At this point in life, desperation for dates makes you take risks!

The rain also brought such thick fog that if you look at these two pics side by side, you’ll see just how dense it was.

Same location for both pics.

I even included this one so you could see that even the window reflection held nothing but fog. That, and I wanted proof that I was sitting outside by a mountain drinking coffee- my ULTIMATE happy place.

After our time at the Pink House Hotel, we ventured out to a small town about an hour away. There we tried out an AirBnB and probably shocked the neighbors with our volume level and random touch to the area. On our way out, we stopped at a zoo.

By stopped, I mean, we saw a sign for a zoo 30 minutes into the drive and asked our uber driver if we could stop because the hills were taking its toll on the kids, and who doesn’t love a zoo? A zoo complete with a playground, wild monkeys and the opportunity to get way to close to the animals.

We also dipped our toes into some natural icy cold river water and enjoyed some time at “the beach.”

Before we left for our trip we celebrated Garrett’s 6th birthday. I still remember when he was 3 months old and he started smiling and I knew he was gonna be a jokester and a sweet talker.

Below you’ll see his version of mom’s tattoo on his arm only his “tattoo” specifies ‘Grandpa’s’ name underneath. You’ll also see where we find Jackson sometimes in the morning, sleep walking to the kitchen no doubt. As well as some pool fun, and candids with our friends and house helpers on Garrett’s birthday.

Highlights from the trip were:

One, when I came back up the stairs to our terrace to find a monkey eating out of our garbage can.

Two, the conversation between Garrett and a guy from the U.K.

“Excuse me? Where are you from?”

The young hiker laced up his boots and answered, “London, where are you from?”

“Hey, that’s where Mary Poppins is from!”

And lastly, at the zoo. If only I could play this video clip.

At this very moment, a stray dog was walking or rather escorting us through the zoo. The kids named him Rufus. At first we thought he was a problem because when he saw the pack of wild monkeys he ran full speed at them barking which caused them to scatter and then retaliate! My video can be likend to the Blair Witch Project as the video quickly narrates a group of people screaming, “run!”

Shortly thereafter, some locals insured us that the monkeys were scared of Rufus and he was guiding us down the path and passed the monkeys. As we entered the zoo, there were at least 4 swinging from tree to tree. I couldn’t help but think, “Finally! I get to see the monkeys!”

Shortly after, I began to understand why NO ONE likes the monkeys here.

We had such a great time on our travels and I left encouraged that our energetic family of five CAN travel. First time travelling without a stroller in fact! This was good news, seeing as our family has about 90 days of travel upcoming since we are close to reaching our maximum 180 days stay in country. I needed encouragement, because all I can remember is our 5 weeks spent in a hotel when we first arrived to India. It was about week 3 in that hotel, that I was not so loving anymore. Praise Jesus, for His grace truly is sufficient in our weakness.

This has been true of life in general and very much so here in India. All the t’s are not crossed, nor the i’s dotted, but when I begin to falter, or my faith does, He IS there to give me grace and strength….

And so are the monkeys…… to make me laugh.

Purple

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39

Some memorables heard in our house this week were, “Mom, for my birthday I want Power Rangers on this side of the cake, Yoda on this side, and a Gingerbread man on this side.” – Garrett in reference to his upcoming birthday.

“Mom, I know I am not a spider, but you know that I really do have super powers, right?”- Gracelyn after having seen the Spiderman movie.

Oldie, but goodie.

“Mom, can we have a going to heaven party this week for nana. I mean, one where we all just snuggle, and cry and be together.”- Gracelyn after sharing with her that our beloved Nana was nearing the end of her battle with cancer.

What Gracelyn said was perfect. And that is exactly what I planned to do when I received word that The Lord healed Nana from her cancer and took her into his loving arms. And HE did, and she is at peace now, and I give thanks for this truth. But my heart does ache.

My heart aches for being absent during this time. It aches knowing she was suffering and it ached as I clung tightly to my phone for fear of missing any updates. I was absent for a lot this week. This week held 3 family birthdays and a funeral. I did as much as I could to stay busy, because that’s what we do when it hurts too much right? Either that, or we sit in the heartache and want to be alone. I did that too.

I also rested in God’s grace this week. Every time the reality came upon me that I would no longer get to talk to or see my nana, I remembered how she believed in Jesus and Loved Him. And I know that I will see her again, in heaven. I rejoiced hearing from family members about how despite their grief, they were truly celebrating a beautiful life of one who loved well and was loved well. Her favorite color was purple and so, many of her loved ones wore purple to the funeral.

I was out at a shop the day of her funeral and every purple item in the store popped out at me. I was even looking at a kitchen item in one section of the store and there, behind it was this random piece of cardboard with the word purple written on it! I left the store that day with my own little nana daily reminder. A small bag for inside my purse that will go with me everywhere, every day.

Emotions are funny.

Sometimes you are so flooded with one emotion that you can not feel any other. Like when your 3 year old is a dinosaur who won’t break character and is having the performance of a lifetime, but you are in the middle of a quiet restaurant and someone tells you, “Cherish these moments, they go by so fast.” It’s really hard to grasp that perspective when you are sweating bullets trying to muffle the dinosaur.

Oldie, but goodie.

But then there are other times when you are so flooded with one emotion but it creates a landslide allowing all the other emotions to join in the fun. Like when you are feeling really down and heavy-hearted, and every which way you look, the lens is a muddy color. I felt this way too. Suddenly, all the things I used to like, became irritants. Similar to when you start dating someone, you love all their quirks, but after some time it drives you nuts that they won’t throw out an empty tube of toothpaste or empty jar of ketchup because “it still has some left.”

It was clear that I needed a change in scenery. So, I got brave (or desperate,) got us a babysitter, and went on a date with Adam, and then a date with myself. This was a huge victory! Adam and I have only had one date since we moved here and we have been here for almost 4 months. It’s hard to find someone you trust in your home country, let alone in a foreign country. So it was a big deal to find one here. And the kids were pumped. In fact they shut the door on us when we arrived back home as if to say, “No! Not yet!”

I documented our date because it was roughly 1 hour at a coffee shop with uninterrupted conversation and it was amazing!

Then I headed off to an event a friend was hosting at her business workplace. It was a vendor show for different businesses in the area. It was wonderful. I stopped by each booth and got to hear what each vendor offered as well as some background to their business. I was fascinated by how many businesses were passionate about using eco-friendly materials to make their products. One in particular known as Ashanari was a non-profit organization that focuses on teaching the local women who live in the slums how to sew and earn a living as well as conserving water by using scrap materials to make clothing instead of cotton. I was able to support the organization by purchasing an adorable and comfortable yellow dress with pockets!

I also meandered over to the free samples that Cafe Kothi had on display and very quickly realized I would not be leaving without a jar of dark chocolate peanut butter. Comfort food, right? I had already had my second coffee of the day on my date with Adam, so I couldn’t order another but was needing a “cold drink,” as they say here. On the menu was a mint pomegranate drink that to this day I can’t stop thinking about. Hit.The.Spot.

Later that night, Adam and I watched Avengers End Game and I realized that since coming to India, I have become a legit Marvel fan and now want to go back and watch all of the movies. Maybe it’s because I got to see all the superheroes in person (see an earlier post for proof!) The next marvel conquest was the new Spiderman movie because Garrett is a die hard Spiderman fan and we decided to have a family night at the movies. I didn’t think it could get any better than riding the scooter that was on display at the entrance of the movie theater. That was until, during the movie we looked over at our kids and saw the most intense smile on Garrett’s face.

After the movie Gracelyn delivered her comment (see the beginning) about having super powers. It took everything we had to hold the three kids back from trying to spray spiderwebs from their hands and swing down to the bottom floor instead of using the escalators.

No joke. Our kids genuinely believe they are super hero’s. And ya know what, they just might be.

Well, in India-Fashion, just when I started to get all irritable and down-trodden, India brought me some sweetness in the form of good old-fashioned American sugar and laughter.

It may have taken over 3 hours, but a sweet friend of mine made us donuts! Oh how we miss Dunkin Donuts. These homemade donuts brought sweet nostalgia to our family.

Unfortunately Jackson came down with a fever this week. I knew he was fighting something when he willingly took two naps two days in a row. It was time to get a check-up, but this time I wanted to see a pediatrician. We had been pleased with the ENT we had visited and more than pleased with the Audiologist, but this day, I was needing that special touch from a pediatric doctor. We had a referral from a friend whose kids had seen this doctor before so we called her up and made an appointment. On the way there in Indian’s Uber style, Jackson got to ride in the backseat with no car seat, but this time without his siblings he had so much space! He was so happy it was like we took him on a special carnival ride.

We got to the hospital where the doctor’s office was and I was once again impressed by the infrastructure, and cleanliness. Even without speaking much Hindi, a staff member knew exactly where to direct us when we mentioned the Doctor we were there to visit.

Although, there were a couple sights on this visit that did catch me off guard. The first sign is one that I have never read in a hospital before. This sign may come as a shock to some of you, as confusion to others, or maybe even familiar. I can not speak for certain as to why this sign was there, but I can speculate the reason and it brings me sorrow.

On the other hand, the second picture just made me laugh. I felt two things as I received the doctor’s text message back. One, only in India would my doctor be texting me during a casarean. Two, maybe I should see this as a privilege to be texting with my doctor?

Either way, we saw the doctor and she told us many children were battling viral fever and no antibiotics were needed. This was a relief, because getting Jackson to take medicine is like getting me to eat frog legs. I was so encouraged once again with the level of care and that special quality a pediatric specialist has with children.

Back at home I knew that family members were reconnecting over Nana’s passing. I knew that memories were being shared, photos were being rummaged through and stories being told bringing tears and laughter. I hated missing all of it but I could just picture how history was being reignited. Later that week I was at a shop famous for block printing. As I read the description on the wall about the process of block printing, the history behind it and how the art is passed down from generations, I was struck by how well India celebrates its heritage in grand and small ways. Families truly cherish and honor the generations before them. And so does mine. I thought about the actual block print, a wooden stamp of a design used and printed on cloth. I then thought about how Nana has left a stamp, an imprint on all of our hearts, for a lifetime.

No matter how far away, I can feel my family’s love. Just like I can feel the Lord’s.

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39

Yoga pants and mountain views

“The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Sometimes it is the little things that help you get through a week. This pair of Proyog Yoga pants did it for me.

This week was hard. Emotionally really, really hard. For various reasons I felt heartbroken that I was not back home in America.

Sometimes, you just gotta grieve. Sometimes, you just have to take the day off, sleep in, and wear yoga pants all day. I mean yoga pants people. Not the tight, suck-in everything black pants that we were all made to believe are called “yoga” pants. But the wide crotch, flowy, not too tight elastic band, soft material, yet still flattering, can actually do yoga poses in, yoga pants. Such as these.

And no, this picture is not of me, as much as I wish it was. But nonetheless, there is nothing like lounging in your real “yoga” pants that your waist can actually breathe in, drinking a cup of coffee and staring at a picture of the mountains.

This week I just needed to take extra days off. I needed moments to stare at my mountain pictures, sit and read my Bible, journal and pray. There is just something about mountains that do it for me, they really do! I shared a little about that in an earlier post. Maybe it’s because of the nostalgia of sweet childhood memories they bring, or the fact that they are majestic and in fact point me towards their maker. Whatever it is, mountains help me breathe, breathe when life is suffocating. Just like my “real” yoga pants let me breathe!

So, this week in review:

We did a lot of puzzles. Over the weekend we were gifted two boxes of puzzles and I had already ordered some as well. We had SO many puzzles in the states and for some reason I DID NOT pack them! So, it was encouraging to see how excited our kids were to puzzle!!

The humidity arrived this week. That was a huge bummer. We are not strangers to humidity coming from Florida. But here, it has been a dry heat. Lately, a “Baking” dry heat with temps above 110, but little sweat! Now, the minute you leave an air-conditioned space you soak your clothes.

To add salt to the wound we had a bit of a water shortage in our apartment complex. I discovered this after soaping up and then needing to rinse off with only a dribble coming out of the faucet instead of the shower head. Thank goodness it was not a hair washing day!

As I said in the beginning, it is the little things that can bring joy, make a change, brighten up a day. We received a care package from a dear friend in the states this week! The kids would have used ALL of the stickers they received had we not stopped them.

A friend from our apartment who is so kind and helpful even gave the kids a free ride on his scooter which they thought was the tops.

Learning something new always brings flavor to the day. Sometimes it’s a new skill, other times it’s a new treat or a special surprise.

This week also came with a holiday. One not celebrated here as it was the 4th of July. To be completely honest, we missed the actual 4th due to a tough day but when we woke up on the 5th we were ready. Complete with 4th of July themed clothing, balloons and decorations at the place where we study Hindi (because they had a 4th of July party for some tourists the night before.) That evening we even played all of our childhood patriotic faves like “This land is my land,” “My country tis of thee,” “America, America” and so many more. We ate hot dogs, mac ‘n cheese, and peas and finished with some vanilla cupcakes with red, white and blue sprinkles. I would say for a July 5th, in India, it was pretty epic.

On Saturday we decided it was time for our family to get touristy. We ventured to Nahagarh Fort. As we left our flat, it started to rain and it looked like the day was going to be a complete bust. But we knew we needed an outing as a family so we risked it.

Thank God we did. The entire day was overcast and in the 80’s. Unheard of here!

We even explored the exterior of the fort and somehow, our Braucher bunch got to explore alone! Free from anyone asking to take our picture! It felt like it was just us, and the views. For a short time, at least.

Inside the Fort, there was a sculpture garden spread out amidst the different empty rooms. The sculpture was, interesting. I am sure that it had significant meaning. However, we were unable to read the descriptions due to chasing young children.

Despite the inability to spend time reading the historical significance of each sculpture, it took but a few seconds for me to realize that this sculpture was indeed a pelvis. Hence, the look on my face.

I wish I had more to share about the pelvis, but sadly I do not. We ended a great day with a movie night where we watched the movie, “A Dog’s Way home” and by the end decided that as soon as it is plausible we will be getting a puppy.

The next day we ventured out to a renowed sports store about 30 minutes outside the city called Decathlon. It was awesome. It was like entering the Indian verson of Dick’s Sporting Goods! The kids had a ball. They basically had a complete workout in the fitness equipment zone, played basketball, rode bikes and learned how to skateboard! We discovered that Jackson is a natural boxer, Garrett a born skateboarder and that Gracelyn is definitely not shy as she enticed customers to the the yoga mat display with her yoga poses. Of all the things to purchase, our kids each walked away with a fishing net pole and a bouncy ball in hopes of playing makeshift lacrosse.

It was an extremely fulfilling weekend. One that our family needed. However, it ended with another goodbye to more friends here headed back to the states and continued grieving over a loved ones suffering. I prayed and prayed for the Lord to bring me comfort. And before I knew it, I received a video call from my best friend introducing me to her new baby boy!!! Tears of sadness were real, for my heart longed to be there at that very moment. But the tears of joy were incredible. Seeing my best friend’s fresh to the world baby boy and her smiling face, in the midst of my heartache was the Lord hearing and answering my prayer for comfort.

As we journeyed into the next week. I have held these things close to my heart, and frequently looked at the pictures we captured over the weekend. I give thanks for breath-taking views and A God who is close to the broken-hearted.

Fish, lizards and bunnies.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us.” Ephesians 3:20

It has been a week of animals.

And I am not talking about the kids.

It started with tadpoles.

Two baby tadpoles scooped from their little pond into a child’s water bottle only to be emptied into a bowl. I can only imagine what the little tadpole thought.

Well, Gracelyn’s did not have much time to think. It lasted a couple days and then floated to the top. Garrett so kindly gave his to her and we spent the next week watching it sprout arms and legs. Fascinating. Gracelyn asked me to put a lid on the bowl in case he would jump out. I assured her there was no need, his little legs simply too new.

Silly mama.

I found him still on the ground a day later when she was out with her dad.

I decided I would rather have her mad at me then find out he died, so I flushed him and planned to tell her he indeed had hopped out. Preparing myself for her backlash, I took a deep breath and told her the news when she returned home. Thankfully, my sweet husband had already planned to take her out to get a pet fish to help with the blow of the news. I was so relieved since I had been coping for days with a pinched nerve in my neck and was feeling rather weary.

And of course, when Garrett heard the news, he desired a pet fish as well.

Later that day Gracelyn had a beta fish just like the one she had left behind in Florida. And Garrett, well he figured out he could have 4 fish for the price of one beta. So we went from two tadpoles, to one, to 5 fish.

I would also like to add that they caught the tadpoles against my will. But much like those tadpoles being scooped up and dropped in a foreign environment, our kiddos have experienced a lot of change since moving to India. Since planning to move here we have always kept their ability to thrive at the forefront. So if a pet fish helps, so be it. It is a tricky job however. One person’s ability to thrive may depend on a different environment than another.

For example, the first tadpole was placed in filtered water and died. The tadpole that lived was placed in tap water. This outcome was opposite of what I would have guessed.

At this point you must be thinking, is she really still talking about tadpoles? I feel like the comedian Jim Gaffigan in his skit when he got stuck on the topic of bacon.

But to the point, we each have different needs in order to thrive. We are discovering what those are weekly here in India. The kids need friends or a pet. Adam needs purpose and fitness. I need time alone, in silence. You know, the little things. Ha.ha.ha.

Well. The Beta fish is doing great! Except for the fact that after Gracelyn caught a lizard, the beta got kicked out of his tank so the lizard could have it and is now in a plastic tub. And Garrett’s fish, well, one by one they each caught a ride down the porcelain express.

Like the beta, I sometimes feel like I was taken out of my choice tank and placed in a plastic tub. My life and my environment has drastically changed.

But there are many aspects of my new home that take my breath away.

Finding 8 monkeys outside my porch in the morning.

Watching an elephant walk down the road in the middle of traffic.

Seeing our children genuinely getting along.

Open air tuk tuk rides.

Hearing Jackson’s speech increase and our ability to speak in Hindi improve!

India’s incredible artistry surrounding us in handcrafted bedspreads, table runners and kurtas that have been designed with the most beautiful colors and fabrics!

Finding the familiar in an unfamiliar place. Like an instant pot, wine, swiss cake rolls and dominos pizza!

And also having new experiences like enjoying a home-cooked meal at a new friend’s home.

An experience which not only included chai, cold drink, fry-ems, curd, dahl, roti, and paneer, but also pet bunnies!!

The bunnies topped off our week of animals and I was convinced by the end of the weekend Gracelyn would have begged us to get her one what with her pet obsession. That is, until the bunny pooped and then she realized she would have to clean that up herself!

Alas, after 100 days, we are still The Braucher five, living in India with the addition of a fish, a lizard, some neighborly monkeys, potentially a bunny, a new sense of adventure, a new sense of taste and a continued desire to adapt and thrive in our new environment.

Grateful for HE who enables us to do abundantly more than we ever could have imagined.

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.