Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Make It A Double!..and other new parent epithets..

video
Life has become so crazy/insane/fun/chaotic/overwhelming/painful/amazing/etc.. in the past 2 weeks, I have not been able to find time to complete a blog post. Actually I think that I have completed one and updated it several times.. but wanted to include photos. I finally found time to upload some photos (in a very simple slideshow - just wanted to show friends and fam some photos!!) and include them with this post. So here we are. FINALLY. Feel free to skim thru - I just want to write all of this info for memories sake.

So let’s back up and update a little bit. First of all, I wrote most of this post last night with a nice big chilly glass of expensive Chardonnay in my hand. Why? Because, more than ever, I dam well deserved it!! Ha! I know.. just having some growing pains – growing into a family of four (or five, as we cannot forget our needy yellow lab!). Yesterday was painful because we had to visit the pediatrician.. again.. with both girls together.. again (somehow it worked out this way last week also and was completely traumatic). This is NOT the way to visit the doctor.

Maya turns into Ms-I-Need-Attention-So-I-Am-Going-To-Scream-My-Butt-Off-The-Entire-Time-Louder-Than-My-Sister. Granted, she had a stomach ache and wasn’t feeling well.. but good LORD. There was no consoling this loud little girl until she finally was able to pass the ‘ache’ into the toilet. Sigh. And then our new little Ms-I-Will-Not-Be-Restrained-By-Anything-Man-Or-Manmade-Don’t-Even-TRY-The-Velcro-Straightjacket-On-Me!!!.. screamed like she was losing an appendage while the nurse washed an ungodly amount of wax from her poor tiny little ear. Sigh.

Sadly this was not our first visit to the pediatrician. Let’s back up a little. Devika came home with an intestinal parasite.. and we thought Maya might have picked it up. Not sure, could be that she had a virus and now is freaked out about using the toilet. She was quite ill all of last week (thus no time to blog). We will be testing her for the parasite in the next couple of days just to ensure there isn’t an issue. Picked up the lovely testing materials yesterday at the doc’s. We already tested Devika and luckily only one of the intestinal issues the doc anticipated has proven positive. She has taken meds for several days and should be feeling better. Unfortunately, her tummy issues seem to be worsening and she has developed eczema rash all over her body and a low fever (plus her never-ending nasal congestion). Maybe the tummy issues are from a major change of diet.. hopefully. Today is the last day of her intestinal medicine – so I hope it worked.

We are hoping that this parasite turns out to be the issue with Devika’s small size. She is tiny!! Only 12 lbs and 24”. The pediatrician is very concerned with her lack of growth over the past year. She put Devika on a hi-cal diet and will be re-evaluating her on Nov 6th – hoping to see growth.

We are also concerned about some oral issues that Devika has. She has a high palate with a bit of a groove in it. She also has a cross-bite (teeth don’t line up). We found out that these issues are a result of her prematurity (she was ~2 months premature). We hope that there is something that can be done to help this – that she won’t need to wait until she is old enough for braces. I’m assuming something more will be done, as she cannot even eat anything remotely solid yet. Even cheerios or small banana bits will choke her. She also is having some issues eating from a spoon – she doesn’t quite know how to do it. She is being fed as if she was 6 months old – everything is pureed. Food tends to get stuck in the palate groove if she has anything solid. We may be looking at some feeding therapy.. we’ll find out more at our next doc appmt.

Btw, we about had heart failure when we first met Devika. We did not know that she had the oral issues, and when we picked her up she became traumatized and lost some muscle control (totally normal). This caused her face to slack somewhat, and her mouth looked very odd. We were sooo afraid that something very major was wrong with her. We were, of course, quite stressed with the entire process of picking up a new baby – and dealing with our toddler at the same time – which did not help our transition with her. We freaked out a little and were worried about worse-case scenarios. Now that we are home and she is adjusting.. she has gained muscle control and the mouth does not look so obviously misshapen. Not sure you would even notice it unless you spent time with her or fed her.

So just take note – if you are picking up a child and see something like this – don’t freak out at first! J Yeah right… I think anyone would. But things are rarely as serious as you first think when you are looking at a completely traumatized child. It’s amazing how much they change after they begin to transition/gain strength/etc.

We’re looking forward to finding more info about how her palate and jaw might be corrected.. her pediatrician wanted to scope out the growth issue first. Maybe we will know more on Nov. 6th at the next appmt.

So here we are 8 days after arriving home. We are VERY happy to be home. Maya had many transition issues, and is still working thru them (as is normal but painful!). When Devika cries, she cries. She will not be quiet until D is quiet.. so we have to remove her from the situation. Our ‘Love and Logic’ parenting techniques are occasionally forgotten.. but we’re trying hard to stick to them. We feel like we are tested at least 100x per day!

Luckily, D is not crying much lately. She has transformed from uber-cranky baby to semi-happy baby! YAY! We were a little worried about her temperament also – but maybe (and I would assume) the intestinal issue had caused her to be less-than-joyful for quite some time. She laughs and plays a lot now.. and is just adorable! She still doesn’t feel 100%.. so hopefully this will continue to improve.

Yesterday was quite a big step for us – D actually smiled at ME when I picked her up in the morning after waking! Yay! She was very attached to Daddy from day 1.. but has slowly warmed up to me. She will hold her arms out to me now when he is holding her.. and she will usually not jump out of my arms when she sees him. Things are slowly progressing!

D is also super-strong!! It is really insane. I call her my little SuperGirl. We’re pretty sure she is a baby super hero. Have you seen the baby on The Incredibles? Well.. she’s pretty close. I think she just might need a cape! No one at the doc offices/Childrens Hospital (blood draw lab)/etc have believed us.. until they witnessed it. She can fight off everyone! When she had her blood draws at the hospital, it took 4 techs plus Ajay.. and 1 ½ hrs.. to get the job done. Yikes.

Today I gave her a bath and she fought me the ENTIRE time. We sit with her in the tub, and usually both of us team up – Ajay holds her and I wash her. Today I thought I’d practice going it alone. Hmm.. not a fun experience to say the least. I would not have been the least bit surprised to have seen her head spin around and pea soup to fly out of her mouth!!

D hates to have her hair washed..or combed..or touched. Maybe the flaking scalp doesn’t feel good (major flaking issues even after several hair washes). She twisted her little body around in circles the entire time I bathed her. A couple of times I was able to wedge her into one spot by using my arms and legs to hold her down – so I could rinse her hair. Criminy!

Devika is, however, doing very well developmentally – her gross motor skills are awesome! She is crawling like a banshee, and she cruises around the entire house. I saw her take 3! steps on her own yesterday, and Aj saw her take several on her own today. I think she will be walking in a matter of days/weeks. Ack!!!

I knew that we were in for a completely different baby than Maya was – she was sooo easy and calm. Good thing I braced myself for this, b/c D is a total 180!

Here are a few things about Devika that I want to remember:

* D loves to play with her shadow in the morning – as long as the sunlight isn’t too bright. She squeals with delight and hops on her hands/knees onto her shadow – over and over. It is so cute! I must videotape this..

* D enjoys teething toys – she is getting at least one new tooth right now (probably part of the temperament issues). She likes to play with blocks – taking them out of the ‘block bag’ is wildly entertaining. She has discovered the Tupperware – luvs to chew on it and bang it against anything, including her head (though the head-banging is slowing down thank goodness).

* D is so small that the best fitting clothing are size 3-6 month from the Gap. Luv Gap clothing for these kids b/c they are made for thinner kiddos and don’t hang like tents off of them. The Hartstring outfits that I purchased in size 6-9 months are wearable but still too large. They are one pieces and she gets her legs caught up in them (both legs end up in one pantleg or in the body). She also wears size 2 ½ shoes. I need to order some, as I have only found one pair at Stride Rite.. and they weren’t cute. And I’m all about shoes. J She needs the sturdy white type to help her walk, but they don’t start until size 3.

* D loves to be tickled, and loves to be tossed (don’t worry – we don’t actually let go of her!) into the air. This always brings a big laugh!

* D is much more into cereal/mashed foods than her bottle right now. Might be b/c she has a stuffy nose. I hope we aren’t dealing with another non-drinker like Maya – yikes! She also cannot drink from a ‘4’ nipple.. she needs a ‘2’. I, of course, only had two ‘2’s in the house and 20 ‘4’s. And I keep forgetting them at the store. Argh.

* Maya calls D her baby. J She likes her until D cries and steals attention. Or when D plays with her toys. Or Ds toys. Or anything. Ahh… sibling rivalry! Gotta luv it.

So I have some last thoughts about our India trip, but haven’t had a chance to post them. I’ll do it in a later post along with some photos. Just need to find a few moments to edit them. Finding time while kids are sleeping and I’m not exhausted or frantically trying to clean the house (which seems to look like crap again 5 minutes later – what is UP with that??) – is proving to be a challenge.

I just keep thinking about our drive to the airport on Friday night, and the people who were sleeping in the median of the highways. Or roadways. Whatever. The roads are chaotic and crazy 24/7.. so just imagine rows of people - men/women/children - sleeping in the narrow median when all of this is going on! WOW. Kinda humbles you a bit.

To end this post, let me please remind all of you - VOTE!!! I have my mail-in ballot waiting for me. That will be tonite’s task. Can’t wait!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2 Babies

Not sure how I can find time to blog ever again.. haha! :) Life has become very hectic in the past 24+ hrs! Frankly the biggest issue right now is Maya.. wanting to be the baby and being very very very needy (normal I know.. just painful!). Devika also wants to be the baby (haha).. but her high-maintenance-ness is to be expected. She is doing pretty well - still wants to be touching Daddy, if he is within sight. If not, she seems pretty happy with me. Not that there is any other choice.. ;) She is crawling, pulling herself up, and starting to laugh and play a little.

She gets very sad on occasion, which just breaks my heart. You can see it in her face and her little tiny eyes. When she wakes, she is still disoriented and then begins grieving again. Soo heart-breaking. I hate this transition period, it just hurts. You can't do anything but hold them and try to love them through it. I'm very glad that she latched on to Ajay. She is eating/pooping/sleeping.. so I think we can get her home in one piece!

She finally is sleeping for the night (I hope).. so I'm going to go try to get some sleep. We've had visa processing issues (the cable was never sent from Delhi and it FINALLY arrived at ~5 pm today after about 20 calls and emails from us, Dillon, and the Kolkata embassy) and spent some unnecessary time at the Embassy today. Tomorrow we will be there at 9 am, however, and will leave with her visa in-hand. PHEW. We really thought, most of today, that we would not be flying home tomorrow night as intended. THAT is a relief. I have to get away from this indian food.. i won't fit into my clothing for the ride home.. ;)

Update: WE HAVE THE VISA!! We went to the Embassy this morning and were given the golden packet! Yay!! USA here we come... we leave our hotel at 9 pm tonite to begin the long journey home. Can't wait! :))
Here's another glimpse of our sweetie:




video

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And Suddenly There Were Four..

Wow.. here we are!! And no, you aren't seeing any really good photos. Arrrrgh! The stupid battery charger for our point-n-shoot small camera doesn't work! And the battery died immediately before we left for ISRC. Don't freak out - I have photos - but they are in my pro camera, and won't be uploaded until we return to the US. Blaaaah.
The photos here were actually in videos that I was able to 'snap' photos from. sigh. Always a technical issue, I swear. Last time, when we picked up Maya, our video cam ran out of batteries immediately. Thankfully it stayed alive during our entire visit today.

Anyhow- tech issues aside, we have our baby!!!! :))))))) She is amazing! Adorable and tiny and beautiful!

We picked her up today ~2 pm, and have since been hanging in our hotel room. She has eaten - some formula, some rice/yogurt mix, some cheerios, some Gerber puffs. Pretty healthy appetite so far, which I find surprising. I hope this keeps up and the trauma doesn't kick in and take it away.

So far, she is only allowing Ajay to hold her. She threw a HUGE fit going to him and going to me at the orphanage. This was no shock - she is an older baby and very attached to her Ayahs. Eventually she settled in with Ajay, and I haven't tried to remove her. I did take and feed her a bit.. but then gave her back. She's comfy enough now to smile and coo at me.. but I'm not trying to pick her up yet. She's happy snuggling into Daddy's tummy. :))

She is starting to warm up to Maya also. Maya was very in-her-face.. and still is, tho we try to keep her back a little. She wants soo badly to hold and play with the baby. She doesn't fully understand (of course). Devika is beginning to interact a little with her now, so I'm sure they will transition quickly.

Maya was horrid at ISRC. I had hoped for the best, but she really was flipped out. She wanted to climb into the cribs, and when she wasn't allowed to, she threw fits the entire time. She got very upset when I held Devika and wanted to be held from that point forward. We're still working with that issue (feeding, diapers, etc).. but slowly things are improving. Well.. I'll tell myself they are imporovingI'm sure it will take a lot of time to move past this.. but it's normal.


Ok gotta run. I want to go stare at this little angel some more! Still cannot believe she is finally with us!!
More at a later time. We have to do the visa thing tomorrow, so no idea when I'll have a chance to write more. Hopefully not too long.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Last Moments as 3

The world is round,

and the place which may seem like the end,

may also be the beginning.

--- Ivy Baker Priest


Here we are in Kolkata.. coming to you from a non-smoking room that smells like a cigarette butt. Sigh.. what can you do! Anyhow, we are here and the excitement is mounting!

Maya spent most of the plane ride yesterday bouncing around in her seat talking exuberantly about her new sister. :) {Aka.. she did not sleep allll day until the moment our driver pulled us up at the hotel entrance!}

A little baby toddled over to play with maya in the airport earlier that day, and she had so much fun! She is def. in big sister mode. She was super- sweet.. didn't get upset or smack at the child when it played with her beloved stroller and kept smacking at maya's nose. I was most pleasantly relieved by this!!

We flew Kingfisher airlines, btw, for those who are planning their travel. It was a much better experience for us than Jet was a couple yrs ago. Jet might be better now also - and they were not bad, they are the #1 airline in India for good reason - just not as accomodating at that time. Kingfisher has their own porters and are very helpful thru your entire airport saga. And sometimes it IS a saga.. so think about this. On the flight TO Goa, they had no record of our reservation, but they worked with us quickly and efficiently. Anyhow - last trip the airports were on the top of my 'worst part of the trip' list, and this time they are at the bottom. The planes are also new and nice - and tv screens on every seat. They feed you way too much also. Still having some heartburn, 12 hrs later.
Can't forget the landings on the return flight either (we had to stop in Mumbai on the way to Kolkata).. bounce - bounce - bounce. It was lovely. NOT.


So now we wait until it is time to call Anju and schedule our visit to ISRC!! We rec'd a couple updated Devika photos yesterday (Satarupa..I need to get into the mode of calling her that for awhile until she is used to the transition..yikes) - and again she was not smiling. :( We have only rec'd one photo where she was slightly smiling.. the rest have not looked very happy. I'm praying that this is an odd coincidence and that she really is not an unhappy child. Poor little whoo - she just needs her family! Thank god we are almost there. And thank god our first child was super-happy and helped us thru our 'first-time parents' mode! Maya was SUCH an easy baby - I know we are in for something more challenging this time.. my parents have always told me that paybacks are hell.. haahaa!
No worries though, seriously. I don't care what her personality is.. I love her to bits already! Can't wait to hold her in my arms.
Update: we are scheduled to be at ISRC at 2 pm. ACK! Leaving right now! :)))

Side note ~ my mom rec'd some not-so-happy news today from a recent head MRI. Please, please pray for her health and strength. Mom, if you are reading this - we're thinking about you and keeping you in our prayers. This is def. the place to pray - prayer is part of every moment of life it seems in this country. I can actually hear someone outside singing prayers (bhajans) right now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Crow.. and other travel bits

Thought I would start this post by throwing in a review of the Park Hyatt resort – in the event that anyone out there might be considering a visit. I’ve already mentioned that it is a fabulously-beautiful resort, and this is very true. It also is worth mentioning that the service is impeccable. Anything you need, you only need ask (and often, it seems that they read your mind – or have amazing ears and can hear you discussing something from several feet away and instantly materialize with whatever it is that you were considering a request for). From the moment you arrive and are handed a refreshing drink of coconut milk – still encased in the chopped-open coconut – you feel catered-to.
The rooms, while amazing, might not be comfortable for travelers who are not ‘close’. The bathroom is separated from the main room via sliding wood-slatted doors. While you cannot see through the wood slats (unless you are my 3-yr old and you crouch down while bending your head at a quite flexible angle in order to frighten anyone inside with only your sparkling black eyes seen peering through a slit), they don’t block much (any) sound. It is not easy to bathe, wash out clothing, etc while someone is napping.
The tub is hands-down one of my favorite things about the resort. It is sunken into the marble bath floor (and is also marble). There are 2 steps leading into it.. and it is ~5’ x 5’. In a large dish, a supply of honey-suckle smelling orange-color flower petals is kept heaping. It is easy to pour yourself a bath worthy of the most luxurious spa.. and someone from the staff here would likely be more than happy to have one poured for you if you found it too much trouble. :)
One other note regarding the fab tub: it is located in the center of the bathroom.. and the waterfall shower rains down into it. This means that if you are looking for a private bathing experience.. you aren’t going to get it here. Especially if you are traveling with a small child who never leaves your side! The doors do not lock btw.
I believe I had read a review prior to visiting this hotel stating that a few of the rooms actually have the shower detached.. but I don’t know. There is no ‘shower door’. And one wall of the shower is glass – shuttered on the outside by wood slats and a circle design at the top. This allows privacy (believe me – I’ve scoped every angle from within the room and it seems to be private!).. while giving you the feeling of bathing outdoors in the midst of the rainforest.
The toilet is located in a separate toilet area, with a slatted door, but is inside the bathroom. If you aren’t close-knit travelers, you might not want to share the bath while getting ready in the mornings/evenings.


The food at the hotel is great – the cafĂ© has an extensive breakfast buffet (also surprisingly affordable) with ~20 different fresh breads/rolls/muffins/etc, fresh fruit, and any egg/pancake/French toast/etc item made-to-order upon request. I’m really going to miss this – I don’t think my cold cereal is quite going to rival it!

I mentioned the crows in the blog post title b/c they are very aggressive here. We encountered one yesterday that had his eye on Maya! He kept following us.. swooped at her once.. and then perched on her pool chaise and stared at her. She thought this was pretty cool and started to reach towards the ‘birdy friend’.. while I yelled and smacked at him. The crazy thing didn’t fly away until I literally pounded the chair next to him! Hmm. I’m guessing she must have been carrying some breakfast crumbs on her clothing or something.. ?! Yipes!

So today we ventured out of the resort!
Thank god that I remembered my motion-sickness pills. Someone (no names mentioned..) was making fun of me when we started out on our journey.. but an hour and many screeching-tire-hairpin-turns-into a barrage of oncoming trucks/buses/mopeds later.. the jokes had ended!
I’m pretty sure that I have 30 or 40 new grey hairs.. or maybe the color could more aptly be described as shocked-white. The India driving really doesn’t normally scare me much – I somehow just ‘let go’ and do not look out the front windshield during the rides. But today I was expecting less craziness – we had been told that this area is much more tame than the Delhi area. I BEG to differ. Very narrow roads and faster speeds. Even Maya gasped out loud several times when viewing an oncoming bus that looked to be driving almost on top of us.

We checked out a fort – which was disappointing after the amazing forts and other sites we had seen in the Delhi/Agra area (but like I told Aj.. we seriously cannot compare ANYTHING in the world to the Taj Mahal now can we?? We've been spoiled!). The views of the Arabian Sea were quite phenomenal from the walls that we climbed onto, however. Just, again, so hot that we did not feel like lingering.

We drove into Old Goa and visited the Basilica of the Born Jesus. This church houses the body of Saint Francis Xavier. His body has not decomposed.. and was not embalmed. I think that is so amazing. My mom had recently been telling me of some saints which were entombed in Rome which also had not decomposed.. so interesting! His body is displayed every 10 years, with the next being 2014. I guess thousands and thousands of people come to see him from around the world. I would luv to see that.. but could not even begin to imagine the crowds and insanity.
We drove past a large convent which housed an order of Franciscan nuns. I snapped a quick photo, but we did not visit. I would have liked to stop – but Maya was literally melting down at this point, and we were all tired/hungry/sweltering. There is a story of that convent, but I didn’t quite understand what the driver was saying. I’ll have to scope it out and pass it along to my sister (also a francisan sister). (sorry we missed it Mary.. I was trying..)

That pretty much made up our day! We had hoped to do more, but we were just too dragged down by the heat. We will have to revisit in a few years at a better time of year. We did see the outside of the estate where the owner of Kingfisher lives. Kingfisher – the beer, airline, etc. Looked quite massive.
We stopped at a chemist today and were able to purchase Lactogen formula for Devika, as well as vanilla Pediasure. Hopefully she will eat for us!! We are getting sooo excited!! We fly out tomorrow, early afternoon .. to Kolkata. YAY!!
Aj is getting very nervous.. but so far, I am only excited. I guess we’ve been down this road before and I feel pretty well prepared. Or I’m just in a state of denial. :)
Maya has now regressed into ‘baby’ mode as much as she can get away with. She wants everything that is Devika’s.. the clothing, bottles, etcetc.. She wants to be held all the time.. fed.. etc. We understand what is happening and are not pushing her. I know this is a hard time for her and we’re working hard to give her attention and comfort. She is going to be a great big sister!! The next few days are going to be difficult – especially Thursday, when Aj has to work for ~4/5 hours at the Kolkata office and leave me with the girls. Oh well.. one step at a time.
Btw – Mary – I finished the book I was into (Twilight series, book II for anyone out there who is also into that series – luv it!!).. and am well into The Shack. It is very interesting.. it’s at a point now where I have to read slowly and try to ingest! I hope to finish before Devika joins us, but not sure that I will. Good recommendation, we’ll have to chat about it after I’m home.
Next post will be from Kolkata!!! 36 Hours (approx) before we are a family of 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here we come baby!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hotter Than...

Omg it is HOT here in Goa. And HUMID. Ok that is nothing new in India.. but I forgot the immensity of the heat. Maybe it is worse for us because we live in a desert region and have no humidity. Then again, I think it's just dam hot. Even the Indians that we have met here are in agreement. The heat index has been b/t 105 - 110 the last couple of days.
We stayed out by the ocean for maybe an hour yesterday.. and I think I got a bit dehydrated. I kept worrying about Maya, but obviously forgot to keep myself totally hydrated. I've been dealing with mega stomach pain today, and I'm assuming it was the heat. Can't spend much time outside today, as it is again - so intense. We spent quite a bit of time at the pool in the early morning hours, and then retreated to the AC! Now I'm trying to talk myself into taking my malaria drugs. They make me super-dizzy, and I'm getting very sick of feeling like I'm walking on a moving ship for a couple hours post-pill. I think this happened the last time we came to India, and we both stopped taking the pills. Not sure we can rationalize NOT taking them this time, as the mosquitos are definitely biting. Blech.
So Goa sounds fun eh? Haa.. it is actually fantastic. We're still loving the beauty and relaxation. Tomorrow we are finally going to hire a driver and leave the resort for a few hours. Had planned to do this today.. but alas, my stomach refuses to leave the resort.
We're planning to explore Old Goa.. and maybe another beach or two. We've heard that the entire area is breathtaking, so we can't miss seeing it. There are some temples and churches I'd love to see in Old Goa.. but we'll have to ensure that it is safe. I've read stories in the newspaper the past few days regarding protests and issues at both the temples and the churches. We'll have to see how it goes.
Maya is still having a wonderful time. She has met some little 'friends' at the pool today. :) She is quite social, and tends to startle the Indian families by walking up to them and starting conversations. She gets that from her father though, as he has startled a few people himself (women mostly.. they obv are not used to being spoken to by strange men..haha)!
We met a couple of very nice Indian families today - one of which is from Kolkata and has an adopted daughter from one of the Kolkata orphanages! They even visited ISRC at one point. According to them, Kolkata only has 3 orphanages that are 'safe' to adopt from. It was very interesting to hear them describe their domestic-India adoption process. They thought that their wait for their daughter was long.. until they heard that Devika is 14 months and their daughter was 40 days old at the time of coming home!
It will be interesting to transition from Goa to Kolkata. So far this trip is definitely nothing like the last trip. Even the traffic and towns nearby are nothing like 'normal India'. We are constantly reminded of the (bizarre to us) class issue in this country, though. We've witnessed some rude scenes between some Indian families and their servants that they have brought with them. It is such a foreign concept to us. I seriously feel almost like we're on an old plantation with slaves. For one thing - the grounds remind me of a huge plantation.. and the groundskeepers wear dark overalls with white t-shirts and straw hats. Pair that with an Indian man yelling at a servant/nanny/Ayah/whatever.. for not seeing that his child was climbing on a balcony fence (directly in front of HIM btw) b/c she was busy with laundry.. etc. It's an interesting glimpse of a very different culture.
Speaking of which.. the stories in the newspaper are almost mindblowing. Yesterday I read about a village woman who was admitted to a hospital due to severe burns on her hands. She was accused of being a witch by someone in her village.. and their 'test' was to make her grab a silver coin from a boiling pot of oil. If she was burned - she was a witch, if not burned - she was not a witch. Hmmmm.
Anyhow- Sorry, no exciting photos today! I've been using my pro camera, and I shoot RAW images, which are not upload-able into the laptop I'm using. Hopefully I'll have a few interesting snaps from Old Goa tomorrow.
Until then..

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A few photos ~

Hello Goa!

This is just a very quick post to let those of you who are following closely (such as my worried family) - that we are fine! We traveled to Goa yesterday, and were still fighting off major jet-lag. It is definitely much more difficult to recoup from jet-lag when you have a 3 yr old who cannot take sleeping pills!! And no, Benadryl has the opposite effect on her. So anyhow - we finally had a full night's sleep last night and I think that maybe possibly we are ok today.
We're off to breakfast and to explore this amazingly beautiful resort and area. We are at the Park Hyatt, and it has not disappointed so far. The room is very large - would pass for a small suite in most hotels.. and Maya loves the sunken tub. I am NOT loving the mosquitos and other random bizarre bugs I've found and killed in the room this morning.. but I'm trying not to think about that. Trying to concentrate on the beautiful lagoon and palm trees that our room and deck overhang.
I'll hopefully blog again later with a couple of photos. Internet connectivity is hideously expensive here, so we won't be blogging daily (don't get worried if I miss a day!).
Also - things are well in motion for us to pick up Devika next week. All is well. Time for some zen-ing out in Goa. :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN!!!

First of all - here we are in Delhi - yay!! So close to picking up our baby! It's almost hard to believe.

Ah, but it has not been a fun day. Yesterday we spent 6 hours napping.. and then a little time in the pool and hanging in the hotel room. Today was Embassy day.
So here is my rant-of-the-day (hopefully not going to be a trend during this trip!):

I am American. I look stereo-typical 'American' (I almost glow for gods sake).. I have an American accent.. I have a United States of America passport with MY name on it. I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN!!!
Is it too much to expect to be treated like an American at the dam United States Embassy???
For those readers out there who will be traveling to India to pick up your child in the near future.. please read on and do not make our stupid mistake:

We arrived at the Embassy and were told to go through line 5. We take line 5, which is empty of other persons.. and walk to the main guard area. We're told that our needs mean that we must stand throught the 'homeland security' line and must go to line 4. Soo.. we walk back to line 4 and get in line. It is a short line - only one Indian family and one lone Indian man in front of us. And then.. we wait. And wait. It's hot.. it's humid.. we have a slowly-melting-down 3 yr old with us. I realize that I stupidly forgot to pull my long hair back into a pony. Uh oh. This cannot be good.

Finally after ~an hour, a guard comes out and walks up to me to find out what my needs are (I'm white.. no one else in line is light-skinned). He takes our info and then asks us to follow him. We do not enter the main Embassy bldg (which we sat in for hours during Maya's process).. we follow him to another bldg where CIS is housed. We wait in that bldg for ~20/30 minutes and then have our visa interview. It goes quickly and the man is very nice.. so no issues there.
We do, however, make a mistake at this point. We are too busy with the I-600 details to inquire as to whether we may use the telephone. We need to telephone our driver to alert him that we are finished and need to be picked up.
After our interview, the guard escorts us outside. Just as we are leaving, we recall that we forgot the phone call. We ask him if we can use a phone. He tells us we must go to the main bldg. We set off on our way, not worried - as we used the phone in the main bldg the last time we went thru this process and know where it is located, etc. We again go thru security and explain to ~5 guards what our need is. We are sent thru line 5 to the main bldg guards. And there.. they refuse to allow us into the Embassy. 4 guards reiterate over and over that there IS NO PHONE on the premises and we must use a public phone. The public phone is ~1 mile away.
We leave and start walking. Suddenly we think - what are we doing! This is not safe (the traffic is just plain scary).. I am holding a half-asleep and very cranky toddler in my arms.. it is darn hot.. and it's so humid that my hair, which I forgot to pull back, is 5x it's normal size!
We return to the Embassy. Again, we explain to 5 guards in the first security-check area what we are doing.. and then again to the 4 guards at the main building entry. And again.. they refuse us entry. One of the 'nice' guards gives us rupees to use the pay phone and they shuttle us out of the bldg.
I think we were so appalled by this process that we did not know how to react (and they had very large guns... haha). We start walking again.
After we walk ~50' down the road we become irrate. WHAT IS GOING ON! Yes they do have a phone! If not in the main bldg anymore, they can let us back in to the CIS area where we KNOW they have an outside phone line. It is not like we were not there filing paperwork.. we are not just visiting the embassy to USE THE PHONE!! They ALL knew who we were and what we were doing! This is ridiculous.
Plus my hair now has possibly grown it's OWN hair.. and the strands that aren't huge and creating a waft around my head, are now stuck to my neck and generating an unsafe amount of heat.
We stalked back to the embassy.. AGAIN explained to the guards.. who sent us through to the main bldg AGAIN.. and this time we were NOT leaving. We refused to leave when they tried to prod us back out the door.. and finally we wore them down. They made us promise not to tell anyone outside the bldg that there was a phone on the premises (like they would simply open the doors for someone else??).. and they finally let us into the main bldg, where we went directly to American Citizen Services and used the phone.
Um.. yes.. that's right. Needless to say, we were sooo irritated, overheated, and just plain mean by the time the driver picked us up.. that our day was pretty ruined. I could barely hold up my hair.
We ate a little food and now the rest of the fam is sleeping while I blog and consider raiding the mini-bar for something with a calming effect. arrrrrrgh.
So if you will be going thru this process yourselves - do NOT forget to use the phone when you are in the building! Lesson learned.

Anyhow.. let's backtrack a tiny bit. We have been a little concerned about this trip due to all of the bombings that have been going on around Delhi and other areas in India. We decided that we would stay away from touristy areas if possible, other than the beaches of Goa. The terrorists seem to be going after markets and temples (these are not anti-American bombings).. so we will try to avoid these areas.

So, keeping this in mind, we wake up in San Fran prior to our flight - and there is a HUGE amount of people protesting outside of our hotel. We leave for the airport early (b/c I'm paranoid).. and end up getting delayed b/c there are a zillion people, press, and security officials everyplace. Turns out that Sarah Palin was speaking at our hotel and was arriving at that moment. Luckily we were not delayed too long.. and did make it to the airport on time (obviously!). Yikes!

Our flight(s) were great. Maya was an amazing traveler!! She slept quite a bit, and was happy most of the time. I was very impressed! The flights (we stopped in Seoul and Singapore) were pretty calm - other than some storms around the Kolkata area. I think I may have been the only person besides the staff who was awake during that time. ..I assume they were awake.. ;) Actually I was impressed that the pilot alerted us (ok.. me).. that we were unable to avoid all of the weather and to prepare for some bumps. He came on the speaker twice to do that. Thank GOD.. as I am a very fearful flyer and it helped me to deal.

Our layovers were only ~15 minutes each and were timed perfectly! Singapore's 777-300ER planes had awesome entertainment setups even in economy - on-demand movies (a ton of them)/tv/music/video games on a 10.6" personal screen. This helped the time go by in an amazing way. Maya loved playing with the 'memote'.. tho I had to watch her, as it was also a telephone. We don't need any $100 phone call bills coming in from the plane!

We lost our stroller at one point. We were in such a hurry when we changed planes in Singapore, that we forgot to grab it before we left. Luckily (LUV Singapore Air!).. they worked hard to locate it for us once we arrived in India and realized what happened, and they called last night to let us know that they had located it. They offered to deliver it ~midnight last night.. but we told them that they could just please deliver it to our hotel today instead! Great service!

Our hotel in Delhi is fabulous also - the ITC Maurya. I'll try to get some pics later or tomorrow morning. There is quite a bit of art in the lobby by a famous Indian artist (sorry, I just forgot his name). The building itself is modeled after a Buddhist stupa (the architecture rises up in steps). The lobby recreates a Buddhist hall of worship - it is a panelled dome - which is painted with an absolutely amazing mural. I cannot adequately describe it - I must snap some photos. Stunning. The rooms are very nice also. Not too large, but very well decorated - trendy. I luv the waterfall showerhead!

Maya is doing pretty well. She did a great job of embarressing us at the Embassy. ;) I'm sure there were many Indians who were discussing the obviously Americanized little Indian girl. Sigh. She wasn't bad.. but she wasn't motionless and silent like all the Indian children who were in the area. I think she appalled many people by trying to 'take their order' .. and trying to share her stickers. :) Ahh.. endless entertainment! She unfortunately doesn't like any of the food so far - which has been a slight issue. Luckily she has eaten fruit and yogurt.. so she is not too famished! I think that the main issue is simply the travel and then our unhappy and hot morning. She kept begging me to take her 'to the hotel so we can warm up please?!'. Haa.. she keeps getting her hot/cold adjectives confused. ;) But she is having fun playing with her new toys in the hotel room. I had wrapped up a bunch of them for the plane, but she only needed to unwrap ~3. She kept herself busy! She also likes the pool at this hotel - it has a very large children's wading area.

Ok.. long post! Hope you don't mind skimming for interesting info.. I want to document all of our travel details in order to remember them in the future!

On to Goa in the morning. BRING ON THE BEACH!!!!!!!!!!





Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Our Way!

We're finally on our way! We are currently in San Fran - waiting to catch the big plane to India early this afternoon. After a couple of flight delays, we finally arrived here yesterday evening. Maya had a great time on the flight.. but of course did not sleep until we were taxiing into the airport. Needless to say, our hopes of doing something touristy in San Fran were squelched. We only had time for dinner before Maya definitely needed to go to sleep.
Hopefully the next flight(s) will be as easy for Maya as the first was. I haven't dipped into the 'bag 'o presents' yet, so that should help. Wish us luck! See you on the other side of the world! :)