America in pictures

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When our friend Matt D picked us up from the airport he apologized for the bumper to bumper traffic. I said ” oh this is relaxing! its so quiet and everyone is staying in there lanes and all the red  lights are relaxing!”

Taron on the other hand didn’t like being in a car seat for the first time. Check out this short video of him.





One of the first stops is OC California. And of course we gotta take advantage of the best parks ever! Taron was perfecting his walking, but he did not hold back in adventure!

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20121109_10480020121109_10264620121109_102236Next we hit up our friends, the Doane’s. One of Arwyn’s best friends from our church in LA Lily are pen pals and through meeting the family we realized that 3 of our kids are same gender close in age and love eachother, including parents! That is always extra fun! So we walked from thier house a neighborhood park, which turned out to be one of our favs to visit when we would go see Josiah’s grandpa in an assisted living home. Then we walked to there addiction “the Habit”, which I have heard that they put some sort of addictive component in there food just like Tim Horton’s. It was quite good!

Vange below with Taron’s buddy, Seth. Fun Fact: Marie is a nurse and she performed my first 3 ultrasounds when I was pregnant with T back in March of 2011, and she was also pregnant with Seth.

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Next we were off to Josiah’s parent’s for 2 weeks over Thanksgiving in Arizona. I put a great pic up here about the highlight of our road trip.

I posted about Thanksgiving Here.

No visit to Nana and Papa’s would be complete without piano time with Papa. This time was Taron’s first:)

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Meeting uncle Joel for the first time.

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Naps out in the dessert are so peaceful. But she wasn’t tired so she just read a book instead. 20121126_142940Another thing we love about Nana’s house is  hikes in the area which I blogged about here. Nana’s great food, kids playing in the cactus filled backyard, Even when getting poked, pictured here.

Then to Mexico for Josiah’s sister, Jessica’s wedding. Josiah performed the wedding I was a bridsmaid and the kids were all flower girls and ring bearers, needless to say very busy week. Beautiful location. Welcome Marcos to the Watters family!20121127_131408521384_10151474564090867_1285020111_n483459_10101240590952615_1172459893_n385840_10151481174590867_1437430163_n

After we crossed the border again, we passed off our 4 kiddos to Nana and Papa and we had an empty car, for a week! Josiah and I celebrated 10 year anniversary back in September last year and we had a week in OC to visit beaches, eat at yummy restaraunts, go see movies, we even worked out all week. It was great! Could have been 2 weeks…

One favorite pastime of ours is tidepooling so we went straight to a great spot and PLAYED!

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20121205_142612You can never get enough beach so when Nana and Papa and kids came back we fit one more trip in with them Here.20121109_163449

20121127_112054After Nana and Papa brought us back our kids and we headed to Sac-Town! 

First things first on Grandma and Papa’s big wide clean street we worked on Arwyn and Malachi learning to ride there bikes without training wheels.

Sometimes we needed a little break!

20121212_112626 No Christmas season is complete without heading up to Apple Hill and cutting down our christmas tree. So I bundled up T in my Snuggli vest that slips over the baby carrier and off we tromped through the trees. 

The kids picked out there fave and then they all  took turns cutting it down.

Then we needed some apple cider and apple fritters to restore us 🙂

20121213_132456 20121213_13333220121213_132356 20121213_133609 20121213_13401220121213_143748 20121213_151619 Time at Grandma and Papa’s was complete with walks to the dog park, gingerbread house competition, and children hanging over the fence.20121224_15410420121224_153336 20121224_15444620121224_15362720121224_15484620121212_122806 20121224_17152820121224_17354220121224_173602Here is Taron meeting a little Christmas puppy while we were hanging at our friends Matt and Alanda. (I don’t know how I didn’t end up with any pics of the kids with friends).

20121222_183510No trip to Sac would be complete without our favorite Ice cream place, Leatherby’s.

Below Vange is with our good friends daughter Ava. We marveled at how they looked like twins when they were younger. They loved playing dress up together. We think of her everytime Vange puts her Cinderella p.j.s on.:) They have the same crazy energy running non-stop through the house.

Also below is me sitting at the tip of a kids boat at a park that is special to us. Josiah first told me he loves me there, and held my hand. Sweet , I know. And we also have a lil grave spot there for Jasmine there in the back of the trees.

Taron got to enjoy big bath tubs at Grandma and Papa’s, too and he LOVED them!

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My cousin Shawn sent us overnight to Tahoe to play in the snow and refresh in the woods. Taron loved it! He would lay face down and lick it. We got to go sledding and even took the older 3 ice skating for the first time. We told them how horrible it would be, they would fall and it would be cold and hard. We figured that they wouldn’t be dissapointed about how hard ice skating is. It worked like a charm.

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California wouldn’t be complete without some time in the woods. Josiah and Malachi headed  to SF for a visa run and had some Man time. Out in Nature, no place better.

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Then they headed to the aquarium. I love this shot below.

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When Josiah asked me if I knew who that statue was I answered: Yoda? Whoops.

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Nothing like some good ol fashioned Man time to put your soul at peace, look at that face.

Then we headed to LA again for one more week before we headed home. and what was in store? More  Man time. The Great Park was huge and awesome and complete with a hot air balloon ride.

Funny Story: When The people were asking Malachi for his hand so he could get it stamped for the ride, the next thing they knew he was gone.

Josiah looked down and he was doing a head stand. Apparently he thought that “hand stamp” was “head stand”, so he went all out to get his admission.

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Some nice friends that attend our church in LA gave us 3 free tickets to DisneyLand, so me and Arwyn and Malachi got to spend the day before we left PLAYING! 

Our first ride was TheTower of Terror in CA adventure. And from the look on there faces we didn’t go again. Arwyn thought she was going to die, poor girl. Malachi loved the adrenaline rush.
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20130206_105118 20130206_121657 The Man that gave us these tickets has a liftetime membership because he built the rock wall in the Scout’s obstacle course place. It was fun watching them rock it!

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This was the kids FAV thing: Talking to Crush. We did it 3 times so that Crush actually picked Malachi, who has squirt at home in his bed. It was a BIG deal! The video is 13 minutes but its FUNNY! We had just gone the time before and Crush talked to Arwyn , and this time around he also talked to her and remembered her…

20130206_202858It wouldn’t be complete without a late night treat before we head home! It was a great time!

Time to pack, this is all our luggage in the garage: 21 pieces in all 😉 and say goodbyes 😦 Uncle Issac below.

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One more goodbye: the backyard swing.

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All our bags in the airport. Malachi always finds a little hole to fit in.

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Back home to India… via Sri Lanka 🙂

20 family around the table

Thanksgiving was really special this year. With as many world travelers in the group we never know when we will see eachother again. It was really special for our older kids to see Great Grandma and Grandpa again at an age that they will will remember. So glad Josiah snapped this photo below of Great Grandpa and Malachi playing basketball together!

We fit 20 of us around the table and had a great feast. I discovered that although I don’t like the traditional sweet potato casserole, I LOVE sweat potatoes with walnuts and a little salt. And I loved my Mother-in-laws stuffing recipe made with cornbread!

Juanita and Jim placed scripture cards of thankfulness on each person’s plate and we read them around the table. Josiah and I also wrote up questions we taped to all the plates and people could optionally answer them. They were all related to thankfulness in various ways and it was a great time hearing from people personal journey’s of gratitude.

 

Rockin it in the USA

We have been in America for 2 and half weeks. All are over jet lag. We spent the first week in SoCal resting and visiting some. Then we came on over to Arizona to celebrate Thanksgiving with J’s family. The kids have been loving raoming all around Nana and Papa’s yard. Building forts under trees, dodging cactus and chasing rabbits. Within the first day all 3 older kids came in the house needing parental removal of “pokies”. Today as I sat in the living room relaxing, A walked up through the isde gate and stared disturbed through the window while showing me her newest adventure. So sad.

I called in Daddy, the expert cactus remover.

 

A day in the life of me

Honestly  I could do these every day of the week and they would look quite different, there is no typical day. Today is especially unique here because all our friends are celebrating “Buckra Eid” . This is the first time we have not joined in the festivities of buying a new outfit and going to friends houses to eat. Josiah is in Delhi for a few days and I am holding down the fort with the kids.

Maybe its because I know I am leaving the country in just over a week and its like “senior -itus”, my mind has checked out, along with my patience for certain cultural encounters. But good or bad its a day nonetheless and I will share it.

I started off sleeping in till 9, which was nice because all the kids, except the baby (go figure) came in waking me up throughout the night.

I ended up with two extras in my bed this morning. I got up and made us all oatmeal and then talked to J for a few minutes. T went down for his morning nap shortly after while the kids played in the family room. I think I had to yell at them “STOP YELLING!” about 10 times while I prepared food and accessories for our picnic to the park later on. And I wonder why they don’t listen to me….

Vange came in 3 different times swearing that she didn’t have to use the restroom but holding herself as she danced around. She ended up changing her underwear 3 times before we left for our outing. She also collected two spankings for saying ” bad mommy!” as she walked away from me telling her she couldn’t do something she wanted to do.

Once I prepped our outing I sat down for a rest and heard a bang at the door. This was the fourth visitor since 7 o’clock this morning coming to ask for “eidy”. This time I decided to answer. It was the little boy that buys me basic grocery items daily, coming to show off his new outfit and ask for his gift of money (eidy). I greeted him ” Eid Mubarack!”, told him he looked nice and explained that my husband was out of town with all our money. I would give it to him later.

As I headed back toward my room another person knocked. I had never seen this man before so I asked “con he?” (who are you?) and he explained he was the new trash collector. “Muje opki pas pese nahee” (I don’t have any money) I said and smiled and shut the door.

2 more people knocked but I didn’t not answer, I contemplated putting a lock outside one door to signal that I was not home, to have a little peace and quiet but I was leaving soon so I decided not to.

I have a few minutes to read from aholyexperience.com , because I feel myself needing some inspiration in order to tackle the day ahead of me in a grace filled way. I watch a video of Ann and I am encouraged that she didn’t start seeing a big difference in her ability to rise above the baggage of her childhood and pass a legacy of joy onto her kids, until her youngest was a toddler. It’s not too late for me. I haven’t lost my chance to teach them grace and peace yet. I have a few years to get my act together, I am a long way off.

I herded us all, except T, in and out of showers and clothes and we headed out the door. As we exited the lift of our building I saw my husband’s friend and neighbor with his brother in law and two others cutting up the goat that they had just sacrificed and were about to cook. Wishing I had my camera to show you all what kinds of things we witness around the holidays we stayed and stared as I answered kids questions about stomachs and hooves, and sharp butcher knives. Fun!

We headed out to the street to catch a rickshaw and I tried two till I found one that knew where I wanted to go.

Once we got past all the speed bumps on our street we enjoyed the breeze, cool weather and non crowded streets. Only the sea of “white men”, men in traditional white kurta shirts for the day, were out finishing up the sacrifice duties and mingling.

It was great to be out of the house and I was looking forward to this adventure. Too bad we are leaving for the US in the best weather of the year. (Note to self: go back in the mid summer next time.)

We stop at a roadside place to buy some sour cream and onion chips, a little taste of home and 2 bottles of water. All the regular shops are closed for the holiday.

We arrive and I leave extra change with the Rickshaw wallah as a gift for Eid. He was grateful and friendly.

We walked quite aways to the open field area intentionally not going to the playground area as not to get mobbed by kids.  To no avail!

As we sat in the shade eating our lunch, kids came and stood 3 feet away just staring. About 20 men came and sat on the grass just a few feet away quietely watching us eat and talk. When the young boys rode their bike right up to us and were falling all over the place trying to fit 4 on, but nearly falling on Arwyn, they were so close, I  hollered at them to leave. I was starting to get annoyed as man after man came and sat by us and the mob of kids grew larger. How do celebs handle fame with grace? I couldn’t even handle it on a much smaller scale.

10 minutes of failed attempts to send people away and I knew we just needed to leave. We packed up and walked back to the exit. The mass of people dispersed and went to something else exciting. Now I know what my friend felt like when she came to this park.

I headed to our usual park hoping that it was quite deserted. I suggested we all pray that we can have peace and quiet at the park, as I was trying to leave behind the negative feelings of the last encounter and switch all our gears. I got lost in thought about wanting a surprise from God in this way when I realized Vange, sitting next to me was praying for our time ahead, and I was touched.

It was great to see our spot with only 3 or four groups of men all spread out over the place. I headed to a remote spot on the back side of the park and noticed a guy on his phone walking along with us. As soon as we sat down he stopped and sat and within minutes his whole group of men were sitting feet away from us! As they tried to be sly about taking pictures,  I had the kids all turn around so all our backs were to them, hoping to send the message that we wanted privacy. They didn’t care.

So I packed us up and headed to the back side of the park, I hadn’t ventured there before. There was a nice square of lawn, enough trees here and there to hide us from the entrance and people roaming around. I was thankful. For nearly an hour we enjoyed ourselves playing frisbee, and paddleball with no people in sight but green all around.

T got nice and dirty in the sparse grass and once when I was on the phone with a friend I had to rush off because I saw him standing against a cement block wiping aggrivatedly at his face. When I looked closer I saw he was swarming with ants from head to toe. It took me a good 5 minutes to wipe them all off. Good thing they weren’t the biting ones!

We thanked God for our fun time to play and get out and then we headed to CCD (Cafe Coffee Day). It was now way past afternoon nap time but things were going quite well as we sipped our chocolate drinks and Malachi mingled with most of the people in the shop. I heard him telling a joke to a young girl that had the same exact Goa shirt on as him.

“Nice shirt!” he said

she smiled.

“knock- knock.”

I am assuming she responded accordingly, cause I only saw him say,

” elephant.”

no answer, “your supposed to say elephant who?”

Elephant who?

“elephant on your shirt and mine.”

We finished up our drinks and T threw a big fit over being done with his brownie. What is it about Chocolate that makes people angry when they run out? I distracted him with a straw and he toddled about the shop.

We hopped on our rickshaw and I enjoyed the evening breeze rustling through the euciliptus trees that hung over the street.

On our ride home I noticed all the roadside piles of goatskins and wondered what they do with them now. I started snapping pictures of things with my phone as we rode along.

Vange says ” I don’t want to eat live goats that are killed mom.” I don’t blame her. It was a little disturbing. I  wondered if it was bad to be thankful that Jesus paid the sacrifice for me so now I don’t have to mess with sacrificing for myself. Quite messy.

We roll into our neighborhood and the kids remind me that we need diapers and milk. As we pick up the diapers, forgetting the milk we greet the shopkeeper and head back to our place.

We take the shortcut trough the alley and I pass the woman I have smiled to many times, and wonder when I will be invited in or just invite myself. I contemplated asking her for a picture but quickly remembered my invasive afternoon.

Once in our home I remind the kids of the same thing I usually do, shoes in the shoe rack and wash hands. I head to the kitchen with T giving him a much needed bath in the sink. After many attempts to escape I get him washed nice and good despite the floaters he leaves behind in the water.

I wrestle a diaper on him and rub him down with lotion to which he giggles uncontrollably. And I get him to lay still in his bed with a bottle of milk so I can clip his nails. Meanwhile I give instructions to all three to get their reading books and use the restroom before I put T down for a late nap and we all have rest time.

As I walk into my bedroom it’s just sunset, my fav time of day to be in my room, for the way the sun shines through the windows. I am thankful that I get to enjoy it alone.

My day was mixed with good and bad experiences but I give myself a pat on the back to just get us all out and back, and clean.

T ends rest time an hour later with his cries in the dark. I switch on the light and find Vange asleep, eyes wide open. I wave my hand in front of her and she doesn’t budge. Malachi has fallen asleep in the living room while reading. I give T to Arwyn who was reading in the family room to watch while I finish up some typing. I jump up once to soothe the crying from a good bump on T’s noggin from flipping over a chair.Then I head to the kitchen to start dinner.

I am thankful to just have yummy tacos to reheat from last night. I grab T on the way to come play with the little kitchen while I cook. He starts out good but is soon crying on the floor desperate for some food.

I wake Malachi and set the table. Arwyn is using her 30 minutes of earned computer time to email her grandma. Vange has woken and started playing in the family room with her “bucket of beans.”

I ring the dinner bell and we all chat about our highs and lows of the day while eating scrumptious tacos.

Malachi: my low was leaving the trees at the park, my high was going to CCD

Arwyn: My high was going to CCD, and my low was everyone staring at us.

Vange: my low was everyone staring too. My high was playing at the other park and having privacy.

I say my low was leaving the trees as well, and my high was talking to daddy on the phone.

We all agree T’s high was getting outside, cause he laughed and clapped when we headed out on our adventure.

T refuses food, asking for a second bottle. His new tooth coming through has made him a picky eater lately and he would much rather drink those all day long, despite his constipation that I have tried combating for a week now.

Arwyn clears the table and wipes it down, I send the other two to brush teeth and use the bathroom. Then we all straighten up the house a bit before we settle down to read Uncle Wiggley’s storybook. I pick our nightly song tonight and kiss them all goodnight.

Vange comes out 3 times while I am hanging clothes on the line and sweeping up.

I settle in to my room for the evening of quiet and Malachi comes in to tell me he has stuffy nose.

Whew! A packed but rich day and I look forward to our sabbath tomorrow. Pancakes, games, and a new movie. And J comes back to me, the best part.

surviving 2011…

If I could sum up this last year in one word, it would be “surival”. My first birthday, anniversary, and birth in India. My second Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. It was full of really hard times but also some that made it worth it. It has been lonely, but full of triumph. And full of many realizations.

I have realized that I am an emotional eater. When we moved I had just come from a period of serious emotional eating as I processsed pain and grieved my losses. But the gift in India, ironically, was I can’t eat Indian food 24/7. And I can’t get tons of options to make yummy american food. I also can’t get “quick” food either. So I have to be willing to put in a fair amount of time hunting down ingrediants and standing on my marble floors sanitizing, prepping and cooking. So alas I have eaten less, lost weight (wahoo!), and had to turn to someone else to deal with my emotions.

I have realized that God is not who I thought He was. I am still deconstructing my veiw of Him. Actually He is. It has been nothing but wonderful, refreshing, and moments full of joy  as God shows me deeper and deeper what love actually means. How far he is willing to go to show me His love for me. And how many times He has to show me the same thing over again. Looking back at my life He has rarely been what people have said of him, or shown him to be. But there has been some, and I am more thankful for them.

I have realized that I am stronger than I thought I was. The discovery about myself, my past, my hangups and my needs has been treachurous but hasn’t broke me, completely. Even more crazy experiencing all of that while moving my whole life and children overseas to a country that couldn’t be more opposite from my own culture. Crazy stressful!! But I survived and still want to be here, and even have hope of enjoying my role.

I have realized that I WANT to homeschool my kids. I always thought it would happen out of need but I never thought I would enjoy it, let alone be excited about it. But God has been growing my heart towards spending time with them in a meaningful way and developing a love of learning. And recently has shown there need to have this time with me for stability and a strong foundation during this season in there lives. I am so happy to be freed up to soley focus on this.

I have realized what true friends I have. Some weren’t as strong as what I expected. But others surivived the distance of many miles to even grow deeper. And some that were just casual have turned into something wonderful and unnexpected.I think moving out of the country is a good trial to put relationships under to see what they were made of. The ones that weren’t as strong as I had hoped,I have greived this last year. But God has also brought 1 or 2 new friendships from beautiful women that have done the same thing I have and are going through the same struggles and because of that now know me better than most others do. I appreciate the friendships SO much more that have made it this far in my life, through ups an downs, and now are long distance. There effort means so much, I am so grateful for those for I know they will be lifelong.

This year I had my first:

– birth in India

– visit to Italy

– visit to Germany

– opportunity to furnish my house from scratch

– buffalo burgers

– time learning another language

And this next year I know i will have  my first :

– visit to Goa, India

– Visit to Thaliand

– time out of the Dubai airport

– year of homeschooling

– close friendship in another language (hasn’t happened yet but I am believing in faith that it will)

Looking forward to:

– homeschooling the kids, even Vange with FIAR

– all of the above

– watching Taron have many many first’s

– Christmas and Thanksgiving in CA

– welcoming more friends to our city

– meeting new friends amoung Indian women

– telling about my passions and asking about theirs as I reach new levels of language

– growing in my skill of coaching and watching it transform all my relationships, as well as me

Welcome 2012!

A new tradition

This year we started a new tradition. Gingerbread house making/contest. It cameabout when talking with Devon about there traditions and she was sharing how how it is to miss out on her first yera of traditions. Around thanksgiving they have a gingerbread making contest that has lasted through the years. I remember doing them as a kid, my mom would invite my friends over and we would make our houses together. My mom sounds muc like Devon’s they made the gingerbread and everything from scratch.

So we set out to the continue the tradition here in INdia with our new family the Salisbury’s. I figured that making the gingerbread with adjustable ingrediants and a convection microwave would be a fail and learn adventure. But it all worked out great! the gingerbread even tasted good! which was a surpris eto me cause Devon had to grate fresh ginger, and I had to crush our cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with a mortor and pestle… This is India!

only wanting to make two batches, we decided on having the girls against the boys. It was great for the kids join teams  and work together. Arwyn had her own artistic flair and malachi served as the supervisor/encourager for his team.

My favorite part of our house was the roof, the chimney that Devon made, and the walkway that Arwyn made out of golden chocolate euros.

Vange ran through stealing candies and changing oufits for inspiration.

The gents were pretty creative with a smow bank and sled, a pool or frozen pond(?) a Narnia style light pole, and the dirt path that Malachi made with broken cookie. Notice they had a LIVE fireplace complete with a realhouse fire by the end of the night!

We contemplated disqualifying them because it wasn’t e tirely edible but we had mercy. NOTE: the animals.

They even were inspired to have “yellow snow” from a a little toy tiger, notice the position of the tigers leg…

With 4 girls and 4 boys, we voted and SURPRISE ended up with a tie.

We had so much fun and can’t wait to do it again next year! Maybe with more competitors in our competition!

Uncles are about childhood

This Thanksgiving we got to have a special treat. Uncle Isaac came to visit. There is something about U. Isaac that brings out the spirit of childhood in them. Maybe it’s that he just feels free to play and not parent. And even free to get them all in trouble 🙂 But they laugh more, squeal more, and enjoy life a little more when there uncles are around. Two weeks of Isaac here was BLISS for A, M, and E. He even made it on the Thankful Tree. And very sad tears were shed when he had to go 😦

At the end of the trip we returned to Delhi for his flight out and A and M went to Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in India with daddy and uncle.

She dreams of weddings, and sparkles, and breakdances and skates in her spare time.

Below: This picture captures the fun the spirit they get into when uncles are around.

The three older kiddos had there own special tables for thanksgiving dinner.

Devon is taking the picture, here we are about to dig into our yummy meal. Herbed baked chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, stove top stuffing and cranberry sauce (thanks to friends back home!) and homemade biscuits. Devon brought a green bean dish and a DELICIOUS apple pie.

Notice the Thankful tree coming out of Isaacs head.