30
May

Wordless wednesday – goslings!

Sticking to mama

Sticking to mama

In a line

Break away

Hiding in the tail feathers

Right back to mama

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29
May

Loved every minute of it

We just returned from an insanely busy and absolutely fabulous two week trip to Ottawa.  I was worried when I left that things would be different, and I would not know how we could fit back into our “old” life easily and quickly.  We were only going to be there for two weeks, so we were going to have to hit the ground running to see all the family and friends and hit all of our favourite haunts. I was determined to give it a good try.  Here are a few snippets of our weeks in Ottawa…

Goose and Woo, watching for our plane to arrive at the gate, and hanging out in Frankfurt airport.  The plane left Bangalore at 2:30 AM, and then there was a decently long stopover in Frankfurt.  Give them some planes to watch, a long hallway to roam in, or something to colour and they are happy lil ones!

We managed to hit the Museum of Nature twice, including bright and early on our first morning back!  I decided to renew our membership, even though we were only there for a couple of visits, because we now live more than 100km from the museum, so two visits which included the special “Whales Tohora” exhibit meant that the membership has already paid for itself!  Here Woo and Goose are in the Children’s play area, learning where the different whales can be found all over the world.

We headed to the country, where we were able to visit my cousin and her family at their farm, then my Grandfather, Aunt and Uncle at their farm.  In addition to catching up and eating way too much, Woo got to play some basketball with his older cousins, and I got to check out some of the tulips and all the apple trees that were in full bloom!

We headed to Mud Lake, our secret hideaway in the city, where the lils were most excited to be allowed to run around with no shoes on (we don’t let them go barefoot outside here for a  variety of reasons), and I was most excited to play with my newest lens!!

Woo and I went with Uncle Kentie for his very first golf lesson.  He loved it, though his form needs a smidge of work.  This was followed up by a round of mini-golf that got rained out after eleven holes, much to Woo’s dismay.  He was consoled by some bugs and cheese for lunch, bought by mom, who came in third in the mini-golf.  We brought his new clubs to India, and he looks forward to LOTS of practice in the park.

We convinced our friends (cousin) V and Monkey to play hooky from school for a whole day, and had LOTS of fun, including some very serious park play where no one would look at the camera. I’m just sorry that their mamas could not play hooky from work too!

We visited our best pals at our old day care three times!  The lils loved hanging with the super awesome N (and even asked if they could just go back to daycare), and fell right back in with their pals.  They even re-affirmed their plans to marry one another!!

The second weekend of our visit was the May 2-4 long weekend, and was bright, sunny, and unseasonably warm for May in Ottawa (the temps broke 30C several days in a row). It was the perfect weather to attend opening weekend of the Ottawa Fat Cats, our semi-pro baseball team. I convinced my sister and friend Rebecca to come out, and we all had a great time.  I am still laughing at Rebecca, who innocently asked if I thought it might be too hot to go to an afternoon baseball game… we do live in India after all J. She wisely sat in the shade, while we enjoyed the hot sun for most of the game.

On holiday Monday we hosted an open house barbecue, which was really fun for me, as I do love to throw a party, and we don’t do a lot of entertaining here.  Throughout the afternoon we saw many friends, family and neighbours, and loved the way it felt to have them all close to us.

We enjoyed many visits by friends and our families, and were able to get out many evenings to hangout out (ok, and have a cocktail or two) with them.  Coming back to India has not been hard on the lils at all.  Despite their claims early in the trip to Ottawa, they did miss their friends and life in India. While I did too, it has been an adjustment trying to get back to the calm and quiet that is our life here.

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28
May

The treehouse

Our Goose was born to be a jumper.  As a baby, she loved the jolly jumper, would bounce up and down in the exersaucer all day long, and hopped long before she could walk.  We thought our bouncy little girl was pretty cute, until we noticed some slightly unpleasant side effects. Little things like her habit of jumping full bore on to us when we were most vulnerable, like when we were sleeping, or when our most sensitive bits were left unprotected from sharp little elbows and knees.  We tried to teach her to restrain herself, but she was rarely successful.

As Goose got older, we began to notice that her jumping behaviour got more and more daring.  She started just launching herself from the top of the stairs without caring if you were ready to catch her or even facing her, which often meant a high speed piggy back landing.  She also became even more daring around water.  She LOVES to leap into the water, and seldom waits until the catcher is ready for her. She has also been known to launch herself off the dock at the cottage, causing parental scrambles on more than one occasion. Now that we are in the pool most days, her leaps mean that I get a face full of Goose, or that I have to pull a sputtering girl’s head above water.  I am fairly certain that this is the leading cause of my latest crop of gray hair.

This past week she took her leaps to a whole new level.  A level up, as it were.

We stopped by Woo’s best friend’s house at the end of our last full day in Ottawa.  It was meant to give the boys one last short playtime and say our final goodbyes.  We headed into the backyard, as C was anxious to show us the family’s latest project, the tree house.  The boys clamoured up the ladder and hung out on the platform for a few minutes, until Goose asked for demanded her turn.  They came down and she headed up the ladder with a little help from mom.  Pleased as punch, she danced and played for a few minutes, then asked to come down.

She was afraid to turn and go down the ladder, so I reached up to help her down.  As I opened my mouth to say “don’t jump”, she jumped. She jumped from a platform that was roughly six and a half feet off the ground; launched herself straight at me.  I was in no way ready for her, but somehow caught her.  I caught her and then stumbled backwards, over a pot full of dirt and we went down. We hit our knees, then elbows, then finally poor Goosie’s head on the pavement.

Goose started screaming, I started triaging, and our poor friends were in shock.  We got some ice on her, and I did a quick assessment to see that she was OK*.  Her head barely touched the ground, and after twenty minutes, I felt confident enough to bring her home for further monitoring.  She scared a few years off of my life, but suffered no ill effects.  It seems that I actually bore the brunt of the damage, ending up with a number of gaping wound, bruises, and the scar of another fall that ended in a knock to the head.  I think we have had just about enough of those.

*In their short lives, the lils have had more than their share of head injuries, enough that I no longer have to look at the checklist that the lochildren’s hospital gave to us on our first visit for a head injury (http://lilbunnyrabbitz.com/2011/07/21/haunted/). The list is memorized.

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22
May

Dining out

The weather on our visit to Ottawa has steadily improved over the time we have been here.  I must admit that it was a shock to our systems to walk off the plane two weeks ago and be greeted by temperatures that hovered around 10°C. Thankfully Willy was also greeting us at the airport, and his  arms were full of fleeces.  We planned the trip so we would miss the cold, but apparently misjudged what might seem cold to our sun-spoiled selves.

As the days have passed and the temps have risen, we have started to eat more and more meals outside.  We have the perfect spot on our back deck, where we are shaded by our magnificent old pine tree, yet still catch the breeze that keeps the flies at bay.   Even on the hottest days (and the last couple have been pretty hot) we are able to enjoy several meals a day outside.

Willy and I sat chatting following one of these meals on Sunday.  The lils were happily running around in the gardens and we were basking in the last few minutes of their day.  I remarked that we had now eaten outside more on this trip than we had in our entire time in India so far. I wish that wasn’t the case, but we rarely eat outside for our family meals.

Unfortunately for us, our dinner hour is when the mosquitos tend to come out for the day, and they love us.  We become their dinner, and the results aren’t pretty. I am generally the first to get eaten, and end up with huge reactions to the bites. Both lils also get their fair share of bites, and have also been known to have extreme reactions, which have included two trips to the doctor when bites near Goose’s eyes got infected.   If we wait too long, we have to run inside from the foggers that try to keep the mosquito population under control, and that pretty much covers dinner hour. It becomes more pain and hassle than it is worth.

So we sat and savoured, just enjoying the moment.  I was content and happy until Willy pointed out that we only had eleven more meals in Canada, so we needed to make the most of it.  It made me a little sad to think that our trip home was nearing the end. It feels like we just got here

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15
May

I don’t wanna

I  had this nagging little fear when we booked our trip home, a fear that it would disrupt the happy balance that we had finally achieved with the lils in India.  It took them a long time to settle in, much longer than I thought it would at the outset, so it took Willy and me a long time to settle in. Mostly, they were homesick and resistant to so much that was new to them.

This has changed in the last two months or so, and we both feel that they are really happy.  I no longer have Woo telling me, daily, that he wants to go home, nor do I have Goose declaring that she doesn’t like this or that, or pretty much everything new that we find in India. It’s been really nice.  Then we came home for a visit.

Things have been so simple for the lils here.  They’ll see their extended family and all of their friends.  There have been long visits and extended play dates, with more to come.  We are doing all of their favourite things, because it makes us all happy.  They just picked up where they left off.  They are content to play independently, given much more freedom, and they don’t fight.  Not with each other, and not with their friends.  We are four days into the visit and they are loving it.

They are loving it, until we talk about going back ‘home’ to India.  ”I don’t like India”, says Goose.  ”I’ll just stay here until you move back from India”, says Woo.  It’s tough to hear.  We know they are happy in India, but they are much happier here.    I worry that we reset, and start from scratch when we return, but we’re better equipped to work through it.

I hope I am wrong about this.  Today is dentist day.  Maybe that will convince them that India is not so bad after all?!

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14
May

Best in class

 

Allow me a moment to indulge in some shameless bragging about my lils.  Yes, I know that every parent knows that their child is the best and that is how it should be, but in this case, I have independent verification of the lils status. They are simply fabulous. 

When Willy first started talking about going to Las Vegas at the end of April, we both realized that it was really close to our trip to Canada.  So close that it would have meant he would have flown home to India and essentially  hopped back on a plane two days later to return to North America.  It would have been painful, and I could not ask him to try.  I told him to go to the conference in Vegas, then hang around, work where work wanted him, and meet us at home when we got there.  I told him this even though I knew it meant I would be home alone with the lils for two weeks, and that I would have to fly home alone with them when we returned to Canada.

As luck would have it, Goose came down with a cold the day that Willy left. This surprised me in no way, as the lils ALWAYS get sick when Willy goes away.  When Woo started sniffling two days later, I was somewhat relieved, thinking they were getting it over with long before our flights.  The sniffles persisted, and got slightly worse each day.  Then two nights before we were due to leave Woo casually mentioned that he could not hear. 

We headed off to the doctor, and were given Benadryl to help clear his congestion.  When he still could not hear the morning of our flight, we headed back to the doc and learned that he had an ear infection.  To this point I had been mildly worried about the almost thirty hour trip we were about to embark on, but this news ramped it up to plain scared.  Two sick lils, one with an ear infection?  I expected the worst. 

The opposite happened.  My best case scenario of having them maybe sleep on one of the flights, possibly fight just a little bit, and only have to repeat things two or three times completely underestimated how good they were.  They listened, they had fun, slept a lot, got along perfectly and were really quiet.  We had two minor meltdowns, one when Goose’s juice cup exploded all over her jammies and the other when Woo was being forced by the crowds down the ramp to customs in Ottawa.  

I was pretty convinced that they were great at this point, but was a little tickled by the number of people who came up to us following both flights and complimented the lils on how well behaved they were.  There was a steady stream of kudos coming from other passengers, and I got a wee bit prouder with each one!  While I don’t ever plan on making such a long trip with them solo, I’d gladly do it after this experience!!  

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9
May

Wordless Wednesday – excited and homeward bound

 

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7
May

Rules of engagement

We started when they were itty bitty. There were rules about when they went to the doctor, when they are supposed to sleep, when to wake them to feed them, how much to feed, what to feed them. We quickly tossed a bunch of those “rules” (hello, my doc told us to wake Woo to feed him every three hours! He was already gaining a pound a week, he was good). Out went the old, and we started a few of our own. Most of them were arbitrary and told in jest to infants that could not understand them.

As both lils got older, they did start to ask about things that are governed by rules; when you can drink, when can drive, when you are allowed to vote. We gave them the correct ages for all of these, and started making up a few of our own. Rules about how old you must be to ride your bike down the slide (eight), which is the highest stair that you can jump off of (the third), and when you can become a vegetarian (twelve). Lots of these values change to suit the situation that they arise from, and the lils like to review them regularly.

Moving to India has meant that there were a large number of new rules thrust upon the lils. They have adopted many of them, but still fight and question a few. We knew it was only a matter of time before the started coming up with their own rules. Surprisingly, it was Goose that came out with a rule for us all.

Each bedroom in our house has its own attached bath, and the lils love to use any toilet other their own when they need to go. This often means that they use each other’s. A few weeks ago Goose reached her breaking point and adamantly decreed that anyone who used her bathroom had to sit down. She was apparently tired of her brother messing up her toilet, and had figured out that this was the only solution. It’s worked too. Woo follows the rule, she is happy and we have peace again when it comes to the toilet. Well, we did have peace. Tonight Woo instituted his own rule… Everyone who uses his toilet has to stand when they pee.

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4
May

It all comes down to the thugs

One of the things that we were frequently reminded of as we prepared for our move to Bangalore, was that the city is often referred to as the “high-tech” capital of India. With knowledge in hand, we figured that we would be able sign up for high speed internet pretty easily, but this did not prove to be the case.  There is one main provider that serves our community, and the top speed that they offer is 512kbps, which is v-e-r-y s-l-o-w, especially if you are trying to stream hockey games. We got hooked up, but started looking for other solutions.  We found that our villa was in range for a second provider, who offers 2mbps, at roughly four times the cost of the slow connection.  We asked to be hooked up, and three months later we were. It seemed lightning fast!

This spring brought the promise of a third provider, willing to come in to our community and offer fibre connections with speeds of up to 10mbps.  They needed a minimum number of sign-ups, and once the threshold was met, they gave us a tentative connection date of May. We were the third people to sign up, and very much looking forward to the start date.  As much as the connection we have is workable, we were actually still subscribing to both services.  We needed this, as both were frequently down, and if Willy needed to be on a skype call, I need to move to the slower connection to leave him enough bandwidth.

The last few weeks have really opened my eyes as to how business, on some level, is conducted in India.  It started with a posting on the internal message board:

“Community contact” wrote:

Dear Residents,
This is to inform you that Provider Three has pulled out from our community as of yesterday.

A couple of days ago their team was manhandled and threatened by some unknown persons near here while testing the cable. Yesterday our local cable T.V operator mystery fourth company (Manjunath & Jerry) met with me and informed me that – ONLY IF the residents of are willing to pay the rates (given in the attachment) to THEM will any other service provider be allowed to come into the community. The rates that they have offered are about 300% – 500% more than Provider Three’s rates.

… The truth of the matter is, the service offered by mystery fourth company is a monopoly, like the newspaper, the milk supply, etc and all these services are run by Manjunath who over charges us, huge rates on all services and is just not allowing any other service provider to come in………

This shocked both Willy and me.  We had read in the history of the message board about one provider sabotaging another to get a leg up, or blocking cables from being run, but the physical violence was unexpected. We didn’t know what to expect.

Members of the community were up in arms. There was talk of boycotts, of arranging meetings, of engaging law enforcement. One suggestion that did get some support was to have all of those who had signed up for the service pay a united visit to the “broadband monopoly”.  Further suggestions were that the owner of provider three should be informed, as he was “an old thug himself”, and would make “mincemeat of Manjunath and company” when he found out.  As I read this, I pictured the fights that used to occur in the village where my cottage is located. There were two large families that accounted for a large portion of the village’s 1000 residents.  When they disagreed (which happened pretty regularly, especially on a Saturday night after the bar closed), they would block the main street and fight it out with shovels, rocks, and sticks.

As it stands now, the community is trying to resolve this without resorting to violence, or encouraging violence by any party.  Members of the community have stated that they are watching, and have discussed the problem outside of the message group and have considered “a number of actions”. It’s definitely a sobering view of the growth of certain segments of the economy here. I’m a little afraid to see where this goes next. Until then, I hope that at least one of my connections stays up.

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2
May

Wordless wednesday – market workers

Contrast

Down below

Flower sellers.

Wanna buy some flowers?

Focus

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