Friday, August 24, 2012

Birthday festivities

It seems like yesterday when she was born and today is already one year old. We celebrated Ziva's first birthday with a lot of partying. We actually had three separate parties since it was hard to get everyone we wanted and loved in our little hall at one go. The first one on August 16th was for Kiddies. The menu was Mac & cheese, mini cupcakes, jello shots, chicken/veg salad sandwiches and cheeslings! Thanks to Princy athai for helping me put icing on my mini cupcakes.See some pictures

I made little bags from craft paper that held candy for the kids as take-away presents.

I tried story time ---- but realized into a couple pages that I should have left it for when the age groups was probably 0-6 years. It did seem though for brief seconds that I had the attention of a few 14 year olds!

On Saturday we had a lunch for our relatives and close ones in Bangalore. We were graced by so many from Chennai

On Sunday we served lunch at church.

Thus ends the celebrations for being 1 year. I dont think her wedding is going to be this grand!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quotes from Isaacland 2009-2012

 Quotes from Isaacland
I was showing Isaac an Indian flag and telling him the colors and decided to ask him a question
Me: 'Isaac are you Indian?'
Isaac (vehemently): 'No'
I thought great we are going to have a talk about citizenship and birth country etc when Isaac continues
Isaac: 'I am Isaac'
Me (giggling): 'No you are American'
Isaac: 'Noooooooooooo I am Isaac'


Quotes from Isaacland

Isaac looking out at the rain
Isaac: 'Its so beautiful'
Me: What?
Isaac: The rain!
Gezzzz - When did he grow up ?
Quotes from Isaacland

We are learning this song 'If I were a butterfly'
So the words go something like this -- If I were a butterfly I thank you god for making my wings, If I were a robin in a tree, I thank you God that I could sing
Isaac adds to this ' If I were a dinosaur'
Yikes! I started laughing when I heard this and did not get enough time to find out what the dinosaur was thanking God for!

"Quotes from Isaacland
Isaac is sitting by the stove while I make dosa's and he watches carefully as I spread out the batter into a round dosa. I flip it over perfectly (without it breaking it into bits) and he says
' Good job amma'

hmmm... Thank you Isaac"
Quotes from Isaacland.
Isaac has been learning a few words in Malayalam....
So we say 'Isaac what is cow in Malayalam' and he says 'PASHUUU'
'What is Cat in Malayalam' and he says 'PUUCHAA'

We are flipping through his animal book and he turns to me and says
'Amma what is Dolphin in Malayalam' --- stunned silence

Does anyone know ?
"Quotes from Isaacland
Isaac and Suresh Emmanuel Joel at Safeway billing at the self check out.
Isaac - ' Thank you for shopping at Afeway'
Suresh --- still in shock!"
"‎1 hr boot camp with Isaac worked. He was refusing to eat lunch and wanted Ice cream .. cranberries cookies etc. I went on about how he could have all those after he ate fish and chapathi and broccoli ... 1 hr of tantrum later (with ammachi continuously telling me that if I put on the TV he would eat) ... he sat on my lap and dug his hands into my plate of rice and fish ... I almost cried! More GRACE for tomorrow! Thank you Jesus"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Missing Him

I have been missing him a lot recently. They say the void goes with time. But mine just seems to be getting worse. I think looking at Isaac makes me wish my DAD was still around.
My dad loved little kids. He especially loved them at the trainable age when you could show them 3 fruits and the could tell an apple from an orange. I know he would have enjoyed listening to Isaac talk.
We recently took a trip to Chennai and I saw Isaac seek attention from various other Appacha's. None of them really cared much about him since they each had their own grandchildren running around. It made my heart ache and once again I felt myself saying 'Not fair God!' I remember about a month before he passed away, I had called my father. My brother in law had told on him saying he was not taking care of his health. I tried to emotionally blackmail him saying 'Don't you want to see my children?'
He replied with 'When are you planning to have children?'

I am sure he would have enjoyed quotes from Isaacland
A recent one ---
I was showing Isaac an Indian flag and telling him the colors and decided to ask him a question
Me: 'Isaac are you Indian?'
Isaac (vehemently): 'No'
I thought great we are going to have a talk about citizenship and birth country etc when Isaac continues
Isaac: 'I am Isaac'
Me (giggling): 'No you are American'
Isaac: 'Noooooooooooo I am Isaac'

One of Suresh's cousins was recently appreciating how nice my maids were and I kept saying they  both (the cook and the maid) were a real blessing. She went on to say 'Your mother told me that your dad always supported the working class for their rights. Maybe you are receiving this blessing for all that he has done.'  As the bible puts it in Exodus 20:6 :but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

There is this Malayalam movie where this young orphan couple adopt parents from an old age home. When I see old Appacha's walking around the community I think -- maybe I should adopt an Appacha for Isaac!

A tale of two ladies

'How old are your children?' I ask her
'I have two boys. The older one is eleven and the other is six' she replies. She continues as she sees a stunned expression on my face which I cannot hide.
She: ' I was married at sixteen you see'.
I am again at a loss of words and so she realizes it may be a good time to put her chores aside for a bit and just talk. So she squats and puts down her broom
She: ' You see my father was very old and I am the youngest in the family. My mother was afraid that if he passed away the burden of my wedding would fall on her. So she got me married of as soon as I finished my SSLC (10th standard)'.
I smile at her and then look down at my daughter peacefully sleeping in my arms.  I wonder deep down -- what age will my little girl get married. I look up to see her still squatting in the middle of the room, the broom still by her side
She: 'Daughters are a blessing arent they? I wish I had a daughter'.
I laugh 'Well you are young you can always have another child'.
'Oh no' she quickly replies 'I would just like to raise these two boys well! You see my husband is much older than me' .
'Really' I say ' How old?'.
She: 'Well they married me to my uncle'.
Me: '!!!! Really'. Seeing the shock in my face she replies 'Oh among us it is quite common'. I smile. I had heard of that custom among some of the Indian cultures. Then she says 'Hmmm! My life was wasted'
Me :'Why? Is your husband mean to you?'
She with a giggle: 'Oh no! Not at all.'
Me:' Does he hit you?'
She: ' Oh no! He takes very good care of me'
Me: ' Then why do you say that?'
She: 'When I would have really like to study some more but they got me married off'

We are interrupted by the arrival of 2 year old Isaac and his father. She picks up her broom and continues her chores.
A few months later, she is complaining to me about the ironing lady not returning our clothes. Even though I tell her I am not concerned she continues ' Mam you must tell her to bring back the clothes and take the next lot'. I nod my head thinking: yes of course I must---- right after I clean this dirty diaper.
Me:' It OK! We don't need the clothes right away. Besides she works at other homes she is is probably busy.'
She (sounding annoyed):'Her husband is supposed to iron the clothes'
Me:  'Then we need to speak with him now dont we'
She: ' He is drunk all the time... '
Me: ' Oh! So who irons the clothes'  I almost wanted to bite my tongue after saying that since my concern was really not the clothes even though it sounded that way.
She: ' Sometimes she has to do it on her own after she does work at houses'
Me: 'See now, how could you say your life was wasted the other day! Your husband takes good care of you! Imagine the plight of this poor lady. She has to do her work and her drunk husbands too!'
She smiles :'Very true mam'

A few months later she calls up holding back her tears
She:' Mam I wont be coming to work today. Hope it is ok'
Me:' Sure! Are you ok?'
She:' Yes Mam! But my husband is in the hospital'
Me: ' Oh! What happened to him?'
She: ' He is diabetic and has some issues with his health'
Me: 'Ok let me know if you need any help.'
She: 'Yes Mam' and she quickly hangs up
She comes back to work two days later
Me: 'Is he feeling better'
She: 'Yes Mam but he needs to rest for a month or so. He wont be returning to work for a while'
Me: 'Oh ok!'
She: 'My mother was so scared of having to get me married off without my father that she got me married off to someone so much older. He has all these health issues. Now I am suffering! My life is wasted. I just want my boys to grow up quickly so they can take care of themselves.'

I really have no words of encouragement for her. I have no smart advice or comparisons to drunken husbands to give her. I just watch her wipe her eyes as she carries on with her chores

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Completely Inappropriate!

I had a letter to post the other day. I decided to take Isaac along with me since its much easier to take care of one kid at one time. Ziva gets left behind a lot nowadays and I can see that she is going to begin protesting.
We made our way to the post office and I set Isaac down. He immediately got uncomfortable with all the strangers around. He kept insisting on being picked up. So I handed him a piece of paper and some crayons. It seems like the best entertainment for Isaac these days is scribbling. He does a pretty decent 'A' and plenty of circles in the midst of scribbling.
He gladly took the paper and moved to a nearby chair and went at it while I joined the line to pay for stamp. As I was watching him, one of the postmen, a slightly older gentleman, came over and was helping an old lady put her thumb impression on some pieces of paper. He looked over at Isaac and watched him writing. He grinned, shook his head and then patted Isaac on his butt!
How inappropriate! Had I been in the US, that would have been my thought. But being here in India and watching a man help an old lady put a thumb impression and then watching a little 2 year old passionately scribble ... very different sentiments!
Isaac was completely stunned!

PS: In India people dont ask before they pinch your kids cheeks or carry them ... doesnt mean there are no bad people. Just that people show affection to kiddos a little more easily!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Remembering Her

It has been two years since she left us. And even though I know she is in a better place, my heart yearns to see her now! My heart yearns to watch her play with her grand children. My ears want to hear  her tell stories about her childhood. I know it would have annoyed me since she would have said that Isaac was exactly like Suresh when he was a kid and probably Ziva was like Zoraida! But for just one second I would love to hear all that!

We celebrated her life on July 28th 2012. It was small prayer meeting with songs and prayers and testimonies! It was good to hear about her life from someone else's lips. A few conversations/testimonies that I would like to remember forever
Zoraida : I dont feel like she is gone.. in my mind she I feel like she has gone out to visit someone and will soon be back.

Athai: You know a week before she passed she did the Rehoboth employees salary list!

Sheila Akka: She had so much of grace.

Santaman mama: She loved going to school so much that she would pack her bag and try to follow older sister Komala. Once we had to go to the police station because we had lost her!

Berti Mama: When I say Kalyani drive the car I went back and decided if she could do it so could I. I went back to Tirunelveli and got my driving licence.

My most favorite one
Princy: I dont think Athai would have ever imagined that our family would have so many little ones just two years down! This is what she prayed for all the time (she was saying this as she and I tried to herd Abigail, Isaac and Ziva across a road.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Please .... Thank You ... I'm sorry

Kids these days are rude .... Ok  let me correct myself. Indian kids these days are rude! Every time I don't hear the 'Please' ...'Thank You' or the 'Sorry' , I wonder - was I this rude when I was a kid. I bet I was!
Let me start close at home. I remember a correction in good manners. I was about 8 or 9 years old and I was playing with a friend of mine when an old aunty who was a neighbor of ours walked by. I continued to play but my friend stopped and said ' Good evening aunty!'. I suddenly realised something was amiss and quickly followed along with her and said 'Good evening aunty'. The aunty stopped and greeted us both and then turned to me and said 'You have never greeted me before!'. I felt the size of an ANT. But from that day I always made it a point to stop my games and greet the older folk who lived in our building.
Lord Please can I have a balloon today! PLEASE

Suresh and I were discussing manners on our drive to Chennai. We had some quality time in the car while the two kids took a nap. We were mainly discussing it because I got this article from Baby center Babycenter. The title of the article says Intro to Manner for your 2 year old. I thought are you kidding me... he is two he should know more than an intro to manners. The article also spoke about table manners (Table Manners) which I thought would be lovely to introduce into Isaac's routine. I was catching Suresh up on the things we could add to our daily lunch and dinner routine when Suresh said the following. 'We Indians are rude'
Me: 'huh! Why do you say that?'
Suresh: 'I still remember in the US when I started working and I had to ask subordinates to do something they would say -- Say please! It was the same for all the Indians who worked in our team.'

Its so true. In the US, you better say 'please' and 'thank you'  no matter who you are and what  degree/ title you hold. I guess we learnt some manners in the US! I had to deal a lot with patients in the US and since it involved collecting data from them I really had to grovel a lot. I said a lot of  'Please's and 'Thank you's throughout my Ph.D.
A cousin of mine once said that the American's could be so pseudo. She said ' The just say hi - how are you and turn away and dont wait for a reply'. I thought that was true till I understood a little more of the US culture. The statement 'Hi! How are you?'  was not something that needed a long drawn response. It was a way of acknowledging one another as you crossed each other in the corridors. For the longest time in our new neighborhood here in India I used to smile at neighbors and workman and receive no response. Now I make it a point to use the 'Hi! How are you?' (i.e. I acknowledge your presence!). I say a big 'good morning' or tell Isaac/Ziva to say hello.
Here in India the gardeners and dog walkers are shocked when I say thank you. In fact they are so shocked that some of them say 'thank you' back to me

I see a lot of Indian parents these days concentrate really hard on good scores, doing well in competitions and coming first in class. But none really pay attention to manners. I believe it is not part of the curriculum so teachers do not teach it and even if they do, parents do not enforce it. I have heard conversations between parents and children (~ 6-9 year olds) where the child says 'What did I tell you?' in a rather demanding voice or 'Just do it nah'. In the back of my mind I am thinking I will smack Isaac if he talks to me that way. I think a part of the problem is the 'cool' parents attitude. We are so interested in being friends with our kids that they (i.e. the kids) forget who's in charge. I remember telling my nephew ' I am your aunt not your best pal .... ask me nicely and I may just give it to you.'
Being the cool aunt is very important to me ... but more important  is when he gets into the outside world I dont want him to have to feel like he is groveling for his demands being met. The 'Please' and 'Thank you' should just be natural!

Chicken Little

Bringing this topic closer to home - Isaac George Joel
Isaac learnt to say 'Please' and 'Thank you' very quickly. He even learnt to say 'Excuse me' after he sneezed and ' God bless you' when some else sneezed. It all seemed very cute till we realized that it was very hard to get him to say 'I'm sorry'. Even now when he says 'I am sorry' I feel like he doesnt mean it. It burdens me because of what I read in a book by Tedd Tripp.  Quoting the below from Shepharding a Child's heart by Tedd Tripp
'The heart determines behavior' (Mark 7:21-22 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.) 
What your children say and do is a reflection of what is in their hearts. Luke 6:45
A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemable

Reading this makes me realize that the lack of please and thank you's show a lack of gratitude in my child's heart. In Isaac's case the lack of sorry shows a lack of repentance.
 As Ziva is turning into one little 'rowdy' I know that tough times are ahead with the two toddlers. Not only teaching them to say words of gratitude but to feel it also.

Tough parenting days ahead!