Saturday, February 28, 2009

Two more weeks.

I know how this goes, I've been here before. As time wears down at Post, everything ramps up. I won't bore you with all the details of Madras Kids. It's amazing how much Gwen did as Director, and how much we have to figure out now that she's in the States getting ready for her entrance into the Foreign Service. I'll be happy when it's all over. I mean, it's enjoyable and fun and it's going to be a good show, but with this on top of Katherine's basketball schedule I'm feeling a little stretched.

At least the yard sale is done. We got rid of a good number of items but still brought some stuff back. I do wish there had been a couple of trucks ready at the end of the sale to immediately cart off the unwanted/unsold items to an orphanage or elderly home, but no such luck. So here it sits back in the living room. The highly sought items were Rebecca's two baskets of toys, largely Barbie items she willingly gave up. She earned 50% of the sales for the day because of that and her ability to man a table and let mom wander and "shop." I didn't buy much, though I did buy one item that completely wiped out our sales earnings and then some... but I won't say more about that right now.

OK... on to the day. We have someone here looking at the car and the kids are off to the CGR to ride scooters. Suppose I should get dressed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Say it is so!! I really think it is!

And it's going to be a crazy 100 days. This week has been N-U-T-S. Madras Kids is flying up (thousands of small things).... there's a yard sale tomorrow at the Consulate and we're selling (I go a little nuts with planning a yard sale)... Katherine had a basketball game after school today (a friendly with a local team)... there are shoes to buy (trust me, it's an ordeal), a vet coming by on Saturday (been rescheduled 3 times this week)... yesterday Katherine auditioned for the Cabaret (will find out tomorrow if she made it, cross your fingers) and had her first babysitting adventure for 2 little Consulate kids. Rebecca will be joining a summer swim program in the States, so she's back into swim training after school. Nicholas still does his after school programs of Acting Out and cooking, Jonathon is in Karate twice a week. Rebecca and I are still in tennis each week and have started playing just for fun whenever we can squeeze in the time. And I'm still working part-time, but only through the end of March. I get to spend the next month finishing up my projects, cleaning up my notes for the next person to do my jobs, and that will be that.

And coming up we have so many things. Next weekend is Katherine's basketball tournament where there are games all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Never mind we don't have a driver next weekend for 5 days (he's off to a wedding) and that really throws a wrench into everything as there's still Madras Kids (final rehearsal.... eek), a birthday to go to and poker to play as well. Immediately following the tourney weekend and the end of bball, Katherine jumps right into Track & Field which has already started. Training is before school... again. Ugh, just once I'd like an afternoon program!

We're getting ready to buy a house and a car in April. We all know the steps involved with those little tasks. Thankfully Ian is doing just about all the leg work.

I'm just tired. I don't think I can stay up to watch the end of AI tonight. Oh well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bits and Pieces, This and That

What a day.

*We've put our car up for sale, with the understanding that it must be sold to another Diplomat (bringing in our car we're exempt from taxes... and so must be the person who buys it), and not until June. It's been advertised in our Consulate newsletter and at the school, and I asked the CLO to forward the ad to the other missions in India as well.
We've had 2 nibbles! The first came yesterday, someone with the U.N. wanted to come out in the afternoon to take a look at the car. Nearly 30 minutes past the meeting time, he called and was apparently quite lost. His child attends the American School so Ian tried over and over to give him landmarks, but he didn't know the Park Sheraton or the Boat Club area. It took our driver talking to his driver to realize he was trying to find us... from Delhi. That would have been a very long, roughly 30-40 hours, drive.
Today another person called. From Delhi. Yet she still seemed interested. And the first guy called back, apologized for the confusion and also still seemed interested. Of course now the question is, how to overcome the 1000 miles between Chennai and Delhi?? Well, there are options, like having a driver up there fly/train down then drive the car back. Or have our driver take it up, then fly him back. Or everyone's preference, a professional shipping company putting it on a truck and getting it up there themselves. Apparently this is actually an affordable option, tomorrow Ian will talk to shipping and get an estimate. Cool.
*Madras Kids tickets are on sale. Rs125/ticket, at the school and at the Consulate.
*Tonight was Bunco night. I came out a winner, woohoo! We have a regular group of ladies that get together about once a month, and it's a fun social night.
* But for a minute I reconsidered going. See, I still have my Valentine's roses and the cats are still fascinated by them. I keep them on the top shelf of my computer table and periodically a cat will hop up there to check them out. Tandoori is our biggest cat, and the one scared of everything. He freaks out at the smallest things. When I went to pick him off the shelf he shifted away and I caught him under a place he didn't like, I think it was in his armpit, and along with his yowl he let loose the claws on all four paws. A back foot met my face. It's true what they say, face/head injuries do bleed quite a bit. I'm thankful though that that though the scratch is more than an inch long and bled steadily, it's not a wide gash and I didn't get stitches. No, I didn't have a doctor tell me I didn't need stitches, once the blood stopped flowing I had Ian slap on some New Skin liquid bandage and got on to Bunco. My injury provided some entertainment to the ladies at Bunco, so I guess it doesn't look that bad. Maybe I'll get a photo tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

AISC Sports Day 2009

Two afternoons of sports play.

And like life..

3rd grade Tug-o-war champs.
...there were ups....
Disbelief and frustration
... and downs.
I took 100+ photos, but you can see a few of them over at flickr.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Birthday! We now have a teen.

Last night was Katherine's big party. Roughly 30 of the 50 invitees came, so we had way more food than we needed. Our freezer if full of left-overs.

By far the biggest hit was air hockey. It was in use the entire evening by rotating kids. The great thing is that only 2-4 people can play at a time, so over the 3 hours there were always new kids at the table.
Air Hockey, very popular!
We had Sparky's cater and had cleaned out the toy room as the main hanging out zone. With the double doors open to the outside (and mosquito coils positioned around), tables and chairs set up around the patio, a bar with ice cream punch, a karaoke corner, disco ball globe things, Christmas lights strung up, music pounding through massive borrowed speakers from the neighbors, and these little lovelies on the tables, it really did feel festive.
Fuzzy lighty things, and the bar tender
She had a great time and was exhausted by the end of it. I was torn in several directions last night, when our neighbor fell ill with her husband out of station, her eldest down with a fever, and her little ones needing to have some dinner and get off to bed. Ian was left with 13-year-old-party duty while I went back and forth between the houses trying to get my neighbor hydrated and settled. By 9 p.m. her house was quiet, and by 10:30 our house was too. Katherine had a friend sleep over so we didn't get to sleep until well after midnight.
Actually, it's been a couple of exhausting days overall. Yesterday was the final day of India Week at AISC, and with that comes the elementary school India Week assembly. Every class through 5th grade sings and/or dances their way across the stage.
Doing a folk dance.
Nicholas in the poem about the bazaar in Hyderabad.
It was fun. I cried. I cry at every performance. Heck, I cry at TV shows. I really should have cried when the preschoolers sang... oh my, I don't miss that at all.
This morning, because my neighbor who is also the Madras Kids director was laid up, I was at the school from 9-12, doing rehearsal. We ran through the show from beginning to end and found all the little holes that need to get plugged up. There are a lot of holes, but I'm hoping they'll be easily patched. At one of our breaks, a hush fell on the school courtyard. See what was spotted...
An owl was spotted in the school courtyard.
There's a lot of wonderful bird life in India. In our backyard alone we have 2 kinds of crow, kingfishers, herons, green parakeets, woodpeckers, and assorted other critters, but I'd never seen an owl before.
We had lunch at Sparky's. Again. We want the camaraderie more than the food nowadays, and bonus, we dropped off our Christmas tree. The tree we've been carting around the world was a hand-me-down from after about 10 years of use by my parents, so it'll make nice decor in the restaurant but won't be loading us down anymore. Next year... a live tree for us!
The kids wanted to swim, Rebecca and I had tennis lessons. Truthfully, I did far better than my norm which isn't actually good or anything, but not as many balls went wild so I was happy. After a quick shower, we went back to the neighbor's house to help out with the baby and send her kids to our house to get something to eat.
We're catching up on Lost and Battlestar tonight. I'm off for some much needed rest and vegging.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Bird in the Hand...

Friday morning we found the guard holding a bird. It seemed to be injured, and no one knew what they would do with it next. There's no way I could keep it, not with 4 cats in the house (though I guess that's no excuse since we had a guinea pig for a week), and I wonder if it ended up just tossed outside the gate. It was a pretty bird, with yellow markings on its eyes. I wish I'd take a picture.

That was our beginning to a very different weekend. In fact, it's been an interesting past week.

Friday was Consular Leadership Day. What. A. Day. The morning held it's usual ice breaker type games, but added in a fun quiz game and a tea break. After a 20 minute Yoga Nidra session (OK, yoga outside is great, but laying on the ground, trying to stay still while ants crawl over your hand and flies land on your feet... no matter how beautiful the weather it those little critters are distracting), and lunch where a bird pooped onto my shirt and utensils (thanks again, nature), we had a 3 hour crisis management exercise.
Using the CGR as a "map of the city," Ian and Brian had 4 teams all playing the same sequence of events. Each team was in their own area, making their own decisions, some right, some wrong. If a team managed to complete a series of decisions in the right order they were awarded a card with one of the Tenets of Consular Leadership. Now, they plainly admitted that the exercise was destined for failure. How can it not be when there are 5 crises over 3 hours all over the "city" with only 3-4 officers managing the entire time along with 10 FSNs? In game time, 21 hours pass, but in 3 hours there were teams that forgot to switch off roles, few people "slept," an American wasn't always available to "answer calls," wrong questions were asked, some pertinent information was left out, bad decisions were made (no, you don't send Officers to a panic site... they'll get trampled like 2 of our team did and were subsequently out of the game as they were at the "hospital"), there was no central log to compare information from the RSO to the phone calls to the media reports but we tried hard to keep one on paper... so many lessons learned! Though it was doomed, the exercise was a roaring success. One team managed to collect 8 Tenets out of a possible 10 and everyone learned something. Since I'm neither an Officer nor an FSN, it was fascinating to see the wheels turning as groups immediately set out to designate positions and go-to people. And it was exhausting. By the end of the day everyone was just wiped out.
Friday evening was Ladies Poker. Seven ladies, I barely squeaked out the winner. It was a late night ending to an already long day. And to top it off, as we came around the last corner to our house we passed a police van and a spotlight on a dead person on the curb. It looked like a homeless/beggar type, but rumor has it he was a former minister/actor/somebody or other. As far as I know it didn't make the paper.
Saturday morning Madras Kids pokeyed on. Next Saturday I hope all the songs and dances will be done and we'll be able to start running through everything with the script too. Saturday afternoon, lunch at Sparky's followed by a quick nap and then tennis lessons. We bailed on a party that evening because we were all so worn out.
Sunday afternoon, more poker. Seven different players, we managed to lose my Friday winnings and then some. The only consolation was that I held out far longer than Ian did, and he even bought in again. Which is why we lost what we did.
Monday and Tuesday were normal. A breather.
Wednesday started gearing up for Thursday, which is today, which is Katherine's birthday. Which means Ian and I now parent a Teen. She's invited 50 of her closest friends to a party on Friday night. I'm rather hoping not everyone shows up. This morning my first words to her after "Happy Birthday" were "You made it!" I suppose I should have said "WE made it!!" as it's been a rough couple years. Tomorrow night I plan to be around but not hover. Can parents even figure out how to balance that one? Oh, a shout out to my mom who's celebrating her birthday today too!
Meanwhile Madras Kids is picking up in intensity (though really right now it's just a lot of worrying on my part and not a lot of doing, Gwen is doing all the doing right now), prepping for a Going Away party for Gwen, figuring out how I'm going to juggle hosting 2 more kids for the MS basketball tourney in a couple weeks (which Katherine is playing in) when I just realized the driver will be gone that weekend... and on and on. I know everyone's lives are like this.
To chill out from everything, we are very happy TV watchers these days. We've started West Wing again from the beginning, it was great from the first episode. We're downloading current episodes of Lost (still confusing), Heroes (finally they're all back together again) and Battlestar Galactica (eeek!). And we downloaded the SuperBowl and the Australian Open. Now, Ian is usually pretty good about these things, but for some reason the Open is in Spanish. What... no one in Australia put it up?? Bah. That's OK. We *love* Rafa, so we'll take it.
And then this is the icing on the cake from today: Senate approves $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers I'm really hoping all this misery of others isn't too much of a good thing for us.
Oh, and when we're house-hunting in April, we'll be driving around in a rental Prius. Totally excited on that one too.