Babies

Ever since Isaac was born, I sometimes look at him and feel odd, like I've had this baby before!  I'm sure some of it is the mystical connection that mothers have with their babies, but after looking through pictures, I realize that a lot of that feeling is due to this:

Kenya

Kenya

Isaac

Isaac

Leafy

Leafy

Solo

Solo

Isaac

Isaac

Apparently I HAVE had this baby before. 

Also, there are no pictures of Kai as a baby for two reasons: 

1. They are print photos, back in storage in California. 

2. He is the one who has a face like no other. He also hasn't changed since he was about six months old.

But remember when I had only babies?  When everyone was teeny tiny?

Kids.jpg

Wow. 

Dear Leafy,

IMG_8878

Yesterday, as I was sitting outside eating a mango after lunch, you walked over to me.

“Mama,” you said. “This might sound weird, but I think I have sensors on my tongue. I can tell whether or not a bite of food that I’m taking is going to make me full, right as I put it in my mouth.”

And you waited for my response. So of course I said, “That’s cool, Leafy.”

It is cool. You’re cool. I mean, seriously, mind-stoppingly incredible. 

IMG_8880

This is not a birthday letter because you turned seven on January 20th, exactly a week before Isaac was born and now you’re WAY older than seven. Obviously. At the time I wasn’t at all sure whether I would be in labor on your birthday or not. But we had a party and there were all these other kids there and when you opened your present (a Clone Trooper mask) you screamed with joy. For once, we didn’t shush you.

What will you do with all your lungpower, son? Your ability to project across the country of Thailand merely with the sound of your voice?  And what will you do with your brilliant mind? Your mind is in love with play. You play with words, with ideas, with pictures. In your mind, definitions are made to be bent and flipped inside out, every problem has some way to be worked around, in large, creative, sweeping circles.

IMG_9092

As I write this letter to you, you are walking in large circles around the room, not seeing anything in front of you, deep in your mind, in the action that happens in your imagination. You can do this for hours, and I think you’ve done it since you could walk. Sometimes we have to tell you to please watch your feet, because you’ve been drawn away so far that you don’t notice if you are stepping on things or even people.

He's killing me.

And then sometimes you get drawn swiftly back to the here and now, as when you hear Isaac crying and you run from wherever you are to find him. You love him so intensely, his cry seems to affect you just as physically as it does me. I knew you would love him, you've always loved babies and you sit for hours with small friends of our, talking baby talk and listening to the baby words they tell you in turn. But I wasn't prepared for how much you would love him, how you would sob in the hospital when you realized that you had to go back to the house and Isaac would be staying with me in the hospital. How you always come and find us in our room, first thing, and lay your head beside his as he nurses.

We cut the rest of Leafy's hair off yesterday and he turned into a mini Chinua.

We cut the rest of your hair off the other night. This time there was no crying, you were excited and happy to see how different you look. I could barely contain myself, you emerged looking just like your daddy when he was a little kid, and it was so endearing, so, so endearing. I loved the way you looked with dreadlocks, and with your dreadlock mohawk, and now that you have short hair I can see every gesture you make in a different way, how you tilt your head to the side when you're thinking, or imagining, as you so often are.

I mean, I can't, he's too, ahhh.

You bring me flowers and you dream up things to give me, and long to make things for people you know. You often tell me you're going to build me a house one day.  I've stopped expecting this affection to go away because I know that this is who you are, with a deep core of tenderness and a love of giving to others.

So far this year with you, your year of being seven, is challenging, as you are stubborn or whiny sometimes in a way I'm not used to with you. And this year is above all,  beautiful. Like you.

Love,

Mama

Hair.

Did I forget to write about this?

IMG_9092

The word "forget" may be a little less passive aggressive than what I am really doing, which is procrastinating, because the whole thing got a lot more complicated than I expected it would.

I'll start at the beginning.

So you know that thing when you're pregnant? Where stuff drives you crazy? Like a crack on your wall that you've never seen before, a crack that is gathering dust and gecko poo, and you see it for a few days and seeing it makes you itchy? So one day you decide to clean the crack, but you only make it worse, and then you find yourself on your hands and knees cleaning more cracks and making them worse?

The dust in the corners.

A tile that's out of place.

Irritating things become magnified in pregnancy, until instead of being something minor, it's all you can THINK about. And people try to talk to you, but you can't focus because WHAT WAS THE TILER THINKING? Two blue and one white, that's the pattern, why are there three blue tiles and one white tile all willy nilly over there in the corner of the bathroom?

Do you remember? Or can you imagine, if you've never had this particular mental illness?

Well, that's what Leafy's hair was doing to me, all through this pregnancy. The kid has a LOT of hair. YaYa's hair never hung in her face the way Leafy's does. It nicely parted and hung on the sides of her face, like well trained curtains that aren't trying to take over your life. But Leafy's was like a sheaf, just a blanket of hair in front of his face, and he never noticed, and nothing I did could convince him to take notice.

Somehow I became paranoid that I was losing him because of his hair. His hair was trying to take over our lives. It was trying to come between us. I even possibly believed that it was part of the reason for the bad attitude that has possessed my sweet boy's body and mouth from time to time recently.

(It is much, much more likely that the looming age of SEVEN is to blame for attitude shifts and stages of development that try the soul. Oh SEVEN, how wonderful and difficult you are.)

I started to say things to him, little bitter things like, "Leafy, if you can't keep your hair out of your face, I'm going to have to cut it off." We came up with a deal that I could tie it back from time to time, in a ponytail, just to have a hair-in-face free day. Because the other thing about Leafy is that he's incredibly picky about the way he looks. Put a bandana in, and he'll rip it out, declaring that he looks stupid. It's the same with any other thing I've bought to try to hold his hair back.

But here's a word of advice: If something is driving you crazy while you're pregnant, go ahead and fix it! Use some of that nesting energy to wash the car, rearrange the furniture, sew the curtains, buy a better dishrack. But if it involves the physical appearance of anyone in your family, LEAVE IT ALONE.

I didn't make Leafy cut his hair. But I blame myself for putting the idea in his head.

When we were in Goa, he started to say he wanted hair like Kid A's. He's said stuff like this in the past and we always said, "Wait a few days, or a couple of weeks, and see if you still feel the same way." And he waited, and decided, "No, I will never no never cut my hair."

IMG_9090

But this time he was insistent and pouty and demanded hair justice. We made him wait a week and at the end of it, he was still raring to go on Mission Haircut. He really wanted a bi-hawk (a double mohawk) because of a Star Wars Clone Trooper who has one. (!) Remember, this is the kid who is lost in his imagination most of the time, who recently has spent quite a lot of time in front of the mirror flexing his little arms, trying to figure out how to get stronger. (I could eat his arms up!)

My dear Superstar Husband thought that he would try just a little dreadlock mohawk to start out, just for fun. Then the idea was that we would cut the rest of his hair off, maybe leaving a short mohawk. We all gathered on the porch and exclaimed with glee over the fun of dreadlocks falling on the floor. I exclaimed over his head! His beautiful head, hidden under miles of hair for so long.

IMG_9081

His head!

Anyway, it was fun and it was fun, but then it wasn't, because about thirty minutes after his hair was mostly gone, Leafy decided that he wanted it back. And that isn't possible! So he cried and cried. He cried for hours. And oh, how I wanted to give it back to him.

We've never made a big deal about dreadlocks, the kids just have them. There is no special reason except that we like them and they like them. (Just like there's no special reason that Kid A doesn't have them. He never has, and he doesn't want them, that's all.) But in the world of dreads there is this thing called dreadlock regret, because it's a type of hair with a certain commitment and longevity to it. Everyone regrets cutting their dreadlocks off for a while after they do. And our six-year-old had it bad.

And so did I. What was I thinking? They were adorable. And in between all my reassurances of "It's only hair, and it will grow back, and Daddy's on his third set," I gnawed at my hands and cursed my wayward pregnancy ranting about hair in the eyes.

So the mohawk remains. Because Leafy insists that he wants to grow out his hair underneath the dreadlocks that are left. I am keeping my mouth shut, even though he also insists on parting it so that it looks like a really thin dreadlock hairstyle with the bottom shaved like everyone did in the early nineties, my least favorite era.

And Chinua is completely disgusted with the both of us and says he'll never listen to either of us about hair ever again.

IMG_9089

(Taken shortly before the tears started.)

Weird, wonderful, quirky.

Making the pasta sauce

Last night someone stole the milk out of my fridge. Two jugs of it. I'm mystified. It wasn't there this morning and I know it was there yesterday. However, there are many more valuable things in my kitchen to steal. I guess someone really wanted milk.

The outdoor kitchen is not without its challenges. From the way it floods during a heavy rain, to the snails I am always removing from my countertops, to the ever-dirty floor, it pushes me hard, this kitchen. But I'm still cooking outside, and I still love it. I also love it when the kids help me cook. What a dream.

*

The baby tells me hello now. Tap tap tap, she says, kicking her tiny feet. "Oh, hello you," I say. "You're here too." When I'm lying down at the end of the day: tap tap tap, she tells me and we spend some time together, in these moments that are like a sigh at the end of the day. If the rain is knocking on the roof, she knocks along with it. I love my little friend - this baby who comes with me wherever I go.

*

Leafy loves making stuff. Especially making stuff for people. We try to be in tune with his project desires, so we had a secret meeting with him in the kitchen to talk about what he wanted to make for Kid A's birthday.

"So what is it that you want to make him?" Chinua asked.

"A telescope, an action figure, and a PLAYGROUND," said Leafy.

Chinua and I looked many words at each other.

"Oh, and some BINOCULARS," Leafy added.

I'm glad he doesn't set the bar too low. Someday, somewhere, we're going to have to set this boy up with an apprenticeship.

To Leafy on his sixth birthday,

Dear Leafy,

 A few days ago, you turned six. It's the oldest question in the world, but WHA? When did I blink and suddenly you're a man? Please. Slow down a bit for your poor mother. If my grandmother were here she'd say she was going to put a brick on your head.

But. There are many benefits to you getting older! One is that I am always safe. Because you're super strong. A few weeks ago you were telling me about how strong you are, and you offered me a bit of proof, your eyes wide and earnest. (You are very earnest.)

"Once, I defeated a whole BASE of Tickle Worms." Tickle worms are part of a game that you play with your Daddy. They are coming for you! (They look a lot like Daddy's fingers.) You must beat them back. You are very good at the game, apparently.

So, when I am in the garden, weeding or cutting grass, and you ask me if I would like you to guard me, my answer is OF COURSE. You stand nearby, sword in hand, ready to beat off my various enemies who may approach from the coconut grove. You do this for an hour at a time, taking practice swings to warn anyone who may be watching.

You told me that when you grow up you are going to become a Cyborg. I'm sure I'll be even more protected then, but I hope that when make your change to cyborg, you keep the human parts that are snuggly, at least.

Another amazing part of you getting older is that we get to know more and more of the workings of the Leafy mind. There are two kinds of people in our circles of friends. Those who say, "Leafy doesn't really talk, does he. He's really quiet" Then I take my eyes out of my head and lay them on the table and stare at them like that for a while until they are sufficiently creeped out and chastened. Because the other kind of people are those who respond, "Leafy? He never. stops. talking."

You have a spigot on your stream of words and you can turn it on or off. When people get closer they see it on, and they start to see the depths of the Leafy well of words. It goes on and on. It has no bottom. You like to pace and live out your entire battle strategy for Anakin and Obi Wan OUT LOUD. And sometimes, when the rest of us are exhausted by the flow, I have to let you know that you seem to be having inside thoughts on the outside, rather than actually conversing with anybody, and to please bring it back inside.

But you also love to make these grand pronouncements with your peculiar and genius logic. As I was writing this post, you looked up and said,

"Blood is like an ARMY. There are lots of little blood molecules like a HUMONGOUS blood army."

And then you said, "If our feet were made of skin, and we were so small that our feet were only made of one skin molecule, and then you cut them in half, (motion of cutting your foot in half) they wouldn't be made of skin anymore."

Tis true, son, tis true.

Also, the way to your heart is through your stomach. If I make something you love, you throw your arms around me and tell me you LOVE me. If I make something you dislike, you sometimes say something to the effect of, "You don't want us to have anything we like to eat EVER?"

You are a tad dramatic. And always very interesting.

You were all playing a game the other day, and I heard you say, "I'm the guy who saves the princess."  This is you. Saving the princess. You are very concerned with justice, for yourself and for other people. You frequently tell me that when you grow up you will make a lot of money and give it all to poor people. You get very upset when you feel that YOU are being unfairly treated.

Dear one, but I believe there is something very special about you. People feel it. They're drawn to you. I feel it too, and it makes me protective of you. Then I remember the base of tickle worms and I have to back off, because clearly, you are getting older, and now you can defend yourself.

I love you with a wild, ridiculous love, son. Happy birthday.

Love, Mama

My son, the photography teacher.

These photos are all from a day about three weeks ago, when there was a strike. In Nepal there are a lot of strikes and what they mean is that all the shops (or most of the shops) are closed and no traffic is allowed on the streets. I have tried for a long time to understand the purpose of the strikes, (they are more appriopriately called "bandhs" because they simply mean "closed,") and all I can come up with is that one political party is trying to make a point and tells all the other parties to CLOSE UP SHOP or ELSE!

A side-effect is that you will see children EVERYWHERE in the streets. The first time we noticed, YaYa remarked, "That's not very safe," when she saw three young children playing badminton in the middle of the street. By the fourth set of children playing badminton or soccer, we knew something was up.

Strike for kids = THE STREET IS A PLAYGROUND.

So we headed out one strike day to spend some time with friends who were leaving Nepal for India. And sat most of the day at a tiny restaurant while the kids played in the street.

Leafy took photos. I adore his photos.

When he took the first one, the shutter hadn't opened completely. We fixed that problem.

There is no such thing as too strange an angle.

He takes photos of all the things I second-guess myself about, feeling self-conscious.

As well as getting more candid pictures of me with others than I've seen in years.

And candid shots of others...

I LOVE this shot of YaYa.

As well as this very ordinary one, where she is buying water for me.

Also, he doesn't worry so much about people's heads.

He knows that for a real journalistic feel, you can play with angles.

And he's not afraid to go wide.

And that to accentuate action in a shot, you can leave lots of space.

 

To RECAP: The Leafy Boy says:

1. Make sure you open the shutter.

2. Sometimes point the camera straight up.

3. Take photos of whatever you want, even signs.

4. If you want to get candid shots, it helps to be really short.

5. Don't worry about how mundane your subject matter is.

6. Every once in a while, just do away with the heads.

7. Tilt it, give it a wide angle, and put a lot of space in for an action photo.

*

He's a genius, I tell you!

I love his photos because he doesn't edit out the unsightly details.

(All the photos in this post were taken by the Leafy Boy.)

In addition to being the day of the book launch, the 25th has also been dubbed "Moving Day."

We're moving to an apartment farther down the lake, and we thought we were going on the 1st of June, but then they called and said we could come on the 25th, and we looked at each other for about two seconds before calling back and saying, thankyouwe'llcomewewill.

This house hasn't worked out. We're glad for the time we've had here, (and the friends we met here) but we need a place of our own. This house used to be a regular house, with three big bedrooms. As a guesthouse, there are spaces for three separate groups of people, who all share the kitchen and common spaces. Also, the manager of the guesthouse lives here. It's sort of a family enterprise of his. He rented the house for five years and is sub-letting it out piecemeal to make money on it.

So we have our two nice large rooms downstairs, with beautiful windows and a view, but we also have K, the Nepali manager. He is the sweetest guy in the world, but we are driving each other crazy. Or maybe only he is driving me crazy. He can't help it. I'm touchy and Western and my ears bleed if I'm offered too much unsolicited advice. He's just being himself, or that's what I believe.

He has a way of telling me what I should do; parenting advice, how I could cook something better, or picking up my ingredients when we are cooking together in the evening (our own meals, simultaneously) and pronouncing each one "Very expensive." Like soy sauce, or paneer. The other night he asked me how much I pay each day for groceries. 1000 Rps? (About $13) "No, no," I said. "Probably 500." "Maybe 600?" He asked. "You buy yogurt and milk." Why do we need to talk about this?

I hate spending money. The guilt I have attached to spending money is something I'm working on. And there's no way I can be in competition with a Nepali villager on who is spending the least amount of money on food. But his words have the effect of waking up the lightly slumbering patrol woman in my head. You see? She says. You spend so much, Spendy! Soy sauce! High maintenance! She snorts at me. She sneers!

And K is from a village. He has a villager way of being, which I adore in my neighbors in Goa. Nothing is too small to be remarkable, in the purest sense of the word. Where are you going? How much did you spend on those pants? The bull is shaking his head again, every time we walk by. Watching and chatting and being together.

But K lives in the same house I do, and with K, it is everything that goes through his head. Often to do with how much something costs. "15 Rps!" he says, holding a cucumber high. Or how much he is working. (Not all that much, he only needs to fill the water tanks and sweep the common spaces.) My theory is that he is here without his mother or his wife (they are in the village) and I have become his default confidante. He empties his cache frequently.

I like K a lot. He is kind and funny and nice to the kids. But I am finding it hard to live with him. We're ready for a little distance in our relationship.

And of course it is not just K. I'm often cooking dinner on one burner, which is an added challenge to learning to cook on two burners. (Which I've mastered.) The way the house is set up, I have to be in the common spaces to cook, and I just can't keep the kids quiet all the time. I feel like I'm always shushing them. K doesn't want them washing dishes because they might use too much water. (Even though I've taught them to be sparing.) One day his brother-in-law told us that the kids were disturbing the guests. It was during a business meeting that they were holding here at the house, one we hadn't heard was happening, one that didn't involve any people who actually live here. I was cooking, so I turned the TV on for the kids so they wouldn't be loud during the meeting. But the brother-in-law still told us that the kids were disturbing his guests. And he walked into our room and looked around, telling us to "Take care." I'm telling you, that man has no idea how close he came to physical violence. 

There is also the smoke. After we moved here, a lady moved in who smokes heavily in her room. And just the other day another smoker moved in. Even if they stay in their rooms, it drifts. I had bronchitis for a month that I am STILL trying to get over. Can't be a coincidence.

So, we are moving to an apartment in an entirely different part of town. It has two bedrooms, a living room and kitchen, it is furnished, it has back up power for the lights (not the outlets) and a FRIDGE! Party. It isn't on the lake, but it has a view of the mountains. There is a table!

We will say goodbye to our wonderful little neighborhood. (There were no apartments or small houses for rent here.) The milk for sale right across the street, the best bakery in town four doors down. Kid A and YaYa will miss the local dogs. I will miss my new friends, all the bright, hard-working women that I exchange greetings with every day. But we will all be really relieved to have a little more space. Our friends from New York compared it to moving out of the city. I suppose it is like that. We all have our ideals, the place we would like to live, the way we love to run out and get the bread in the morning, the great momos at the nearby café. But you can't have everything. And we all have our limits.

And anyway, it will all still be here. Or that's what I tell myself.

Did I ever tell you about the time...

In lieu of a real post, about my life, perhaps, or real thoughts or what we're up to...

Did I ever tell you about the time that I bought my mother a photography book, Expressive Photography,  (really lovely by the way) and opened it up and on page 41 there was Leafy's twin? Not Leafy, not missing a tooth, but looking just like Leafy?

That was weird.

Life with Leafy is never boring

(After watching the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

Leafy: "Mama, the Witch looks just like you, except she doesn't wear glasses and she wears a white dress and her skin is cleaner than that skin." (Points at my face.)

YaYa: "No Leafy, those are just freckles, the Witch doesn't have any freckles."

Me: "I think the word you're looking for is 'whiter.' Whiter skin, not cleaner. Thanks, though... I think."

In my house I'm famous for looking like the White Witch, the evil Queen Jadis. This is not the first time it's been brought up. When Leafy was small, we were flipping channels and went past the first scene with her and Edmund, and Leafy called out, "Mama!" while pointing at the TV.

Sheesh. Though I do love Tilda Swinton. And her hair in the movie is pretty fabulous (wish I had a dread stylist to sculpt my hair) so maybe it is a compliment.

But then I just read in an interview that she was going for the look of a white supremacist, since most villainous characters are portrayed as dark and that is terrible. (Truly terrible.) So does that mean that I look like a supremacist? I sincerely hope not. There are those freckles of mine that might save the day. And since when do supremacists have dreadlocks?

Oh dear, rambling. About an old movie, no less. Is Voyage of the Dawntreader out yet? Has anyone seen it?

Moment

It seems to be a migraine brought on by some sort of virus. A knot tightly screwed into the left of the base of my skull, reaching over my head and curling around my eye. A snake in my brain, squeezing. No amount of medication seems able to get it to budge. Plus, a stomach ache.

I've not been a happy camper. Lying with a hand over my face, trying to sleep unsuccessfully. My house is too loud.

It has continued from last night into today, into the dusky moan of pre-dinner slump, until a gracious moment threw all others into shadow.

My two younger boys felt badly for me, and for about twenty minutes I found myself lying with my eyes closed, my face covered with soft Leafy kisses and slobbery Solo smacks.

I still have a headache, it is still bad, but I know for sure that I am a very blessed woman.

Leafy Logic

Leafy at the beach-1.jpg

So there's that Coldplay song, you know- Lost? The lyrics go like this:

"Just because I'm losing doesn't mean I'm lost..."

and

"Just because I'm hurting doesn't mean I'm hurt..."

The Leafy Boy absolutely loves to riff on them. He's non-stop. It's just his sort of odd logic. Here are a few gems.

Just because I'm a book, doesn't mean people read me.

Just because I'm a baby, doesn't mean I have no hair.

Just because I'm a house, doesn't mean that people live in me.

Just because I'm hurt, doesn't mean I fell.

Just because I'm playing, doesn't mean I'm having fun.

Just because I'm an ant, doesn't mean I'm small.

I'm not so sure about the logic of the last one, but I guess if size is more about perception, every ant is going to be big to someone.

Not to worry Internet, Leafy's got my back (and maybe yours too).

So I have this boy named Leafy, he's the Leafy boy.

We've always known that Leafy is a sweetie, a genuine heart-melter. ("I've got so much love in my heart for you...") What is emerging recently is that he HAS YOUR BACK.

He will defend you. He's notorious for telling parents of other people's children that their children DIDN'T MEAN TO DO ANYTHING WRONG! He will stand on a picnic table, gesticulating with passion, at the top of his lungs defending your six-year-old right to be in the Flower Club, because IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE if you a six-year-old in danger of being kicked out of the Flower Club. (Which by the way, is only for girls, but this is not personal, this is about Justice for All.)

He's picked out the little girl that he wants to marry. He's very different from my oldest, a young scientist who was genuinely shocked to discover that Chinua, if given the chance, would not prefer two Separate Planets for boys and girls.

"You wouldn't?

"Because then a lot of my favorite people wouldn't be there."

"I didn't say you couldn't VISIT..."

Leafy is a romantic, a gift-giver, and one day he will build you a mansion. (He may blow it up later, but that's another story.)

So I was touched but not surprised when Leafy helped me out after Solo broke my glasses in Trader Joe's.

Glasses-1.jpg

He made me glasses. Out of K'nex. I melted.

Glasses-2.jpg

I love my Leafy Boy.

This post is part of Love Thursday, where folks blog about love.

Being flexible

I woke up very early this morning to get some work done. I've been so busy with homeschool that I haven't been able to get as much writing done as I like to, and the morning hours are some of my few free hours.

Except that the inevitable happened. This time it was the Leafy Boy. He trekked sleepily out of bed and trailed toward my computer after me. When I told him that it was far too early to be awake, he gestured irritably at the sky.

"It's morning time!" he said.

It is very hard to reason with Leafy about the seasons and longer days and the equinox and all of that. Trust me. Bed time has a similar problem.

I implemented the ol' back up plan. Keep the boy from waking up the others.

Which explains why I tidied and edited a few paragraphs with a four-year-old on my lap.

And why I wrote this post with a four-year-old on my lap. A four-year-old who has not stopped talked. I think he has sung the Transformers song seventeen times during the creation of this post. It is simply inspiring.

What is actually inspiring are his hands, so beautiful, laying on top of mine while he pretends to type along with me.

Two doses of Leafy for you:

Reposting this:



And a fishing story.

I had to act like an orangutan in one of the games

Today we threw a birthday party for Leafy. He turned four with a flourish and a crown and a birthday hat combined.

I baked a cake in my stovetop oven.  I owe you a photo of my oven, which someone referred to today as the space missile.  The cake turned out perfectly, which totally surprised me.

The day after tomorrow I leave for a week to a) finish my book and b) rest.  I don't know if I'll make it through a week.  I'm already doubting myself, going, but I know I really need it.

I'm ignoring the rest of the housework tonight after a day of baking and games and snacks and a wee bit of babysitting. Ignoring ignoring, tra la la...

going to

bed!

Noodle Essay

Here's some background behind yesterday's little photo shoot. Hint: Watch Leafy

"Hey Mom, can we have some leftover plain noodles?"

"Sure, take them onto the porch."

Why does Leafy have such a big handful of noodles?

Noodle Essay 1

Why is he attempting to shove two fistfuls of noodles into his face?

Noodle Essay 2

You can tell that at this point he's realized his predicament. Too many noodles, too few hands.

Noodle Essay 3

Transferring the noodles. (Noodles on the pants!)

Noodle Essay 4

Ahhhh. Pile of noodles in one hand, feeding with the other.

Noodle Essay 5

Problem solved! (Noodles on the floor!)

All good

(Wiping noodles off the hands onto the floor!)

Leafy

Just so you're aware, it's pretty awesome to clean cooked pasta off of a marble floor. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Beautiful Things

Beat up art supplies in the morning with a bowl full of marigolds.

Marigold and art supplies

"Mama! Take a picture of me!"

Smile 2

Smile

Some sort of interesting archaeology by the YaYa sister.  A paintbrush and a rock.  Brush brush brush.  Knock the dust off.  Brush brush brush.

Archaeologist 3

Enough bananas and onions for everyone.

Fruit

The opening of a neighborhood dance studio.

Renee's lentil soup for lunch.

New friends.

Leftovers for dinner.

YaYa: "Come here little gecko.  I'll put a star sticker on you if you're really good and you come to me!" (Assuming that the gecko is dying for a star sticker.)

The light here.

Archaeologist 1

Her hands.

Day Twenty-three: In the Sand

The other day, Leafy drew a picture of me in the sand while we were on the beach, and it looked like this:

Leafy's-pic



I so badly wished I had a camera.

His picture was much better than my rendition, and it was drawn in sand with his finger, which was priceless.  He told me it was me looking up.

You know how there are the natural swings of motherhood; the days of clumsiness and grief, and the days of moment after perfect moment? Or, in actuality, they are much more connected than that...  Leafy draws a portrait of me that stuns me with its grace, and then he cries all the way home because there is sand on his belly. YaYa is so much a little girl that I catch myself staring at her, open-mouthed, because the very fact of her being a little girl makes me feel more free, but then she cries all the way home because I let Kid A take a turn pushing the stroller.

Sigh.

And then I see them bend together to lift the stroller over the loose sand, puzzling out a problem for themselves and finding a way, and I believe again that the shining moments are much more weighty than the others.

Update on the confusing am I or am I not a preschool issue: I think we have it cleared up now.  Chinua was pretty clear (stronger than me? less apologetic?) when the lady got back on the day she dropped her son off, that a) we are not babysitters, and b) she should call before she brings her son over, but they are welcome to come and play. Together.

I think it was a combination of a) a language barrier, b) the fact that many foreigners here *do* open up kindergartens for other international kids, c) the fact that I homeschool my kids, something that is not done in many countries and is very strange to some people, d) the fact that someone TOLD her that I had a school, and e) her own boundary issues.   But she is very sweet, and I'm glad we have it straight now.  It was just funny there for a minute, because on the phone, I'd be saying "I am not a babysitter.  I do not have a preschool.  I do not babysit other people's kids." and she'd say, "Maybe we can talk about it when I come to your school." Oh dear.  Oh dear oh dear oh dear. At one point, I said to Chinua, "Maybe I should just open a preschool."

This is the way my brain works, which is why it's good for me to have people around who say, "Rae, you really don't want to do that."  And then I say, "Oh, you're right.  I don't."

Day Sixteen: Two quotes, a link, and a strange poster

Here's a conversation that I eavesdropped on:

Leafy: "What if I cut a bear in half?"

Kid A and YaYa in unison: "That would be really terrible, Leafy!"

Leafy: "But I would clean the knife!"

Kid A: "No, not terrible for the knife. (Laughter) Terrible for the bear!"

YaYa: "A bear is an animal, Leafy!"

Kid A: "Yeah, how would you feel if someone killed you!"

YaYa: "It would hurt the bear."

Leafy: "It's a bad bear.  If it tried to kill me I would cut it in half!"

YaYa: "A bear is a wild animal!  We can't kill wild animals!"

Kid A: "If you kill a bear, then you should be killed." (Overkill... heh heh)

Leafy: "MAMA! Kid A SAID..."  and then I stepped in.

*

A conversation I was a part of:

Leafy: "What's for breakfast, oatmeal or mu-sell-li?"

Me: "I just woke up, I don't know wait-and-see."

Leafy: "What? (Laughter) "Who's Andsee?"

Me: "Nooooo.  Wait. And. See."

YaYa: "Yeah.  And Antsy is the lady who's visiting Cate."

Me: (Laughter) "No, YaYa, that's Nancy."

*

Chinua put together some beautiful calendars this year, and it's not too late to get them before the New Year!

One is based on Color in India.

One is a year of India Faces.

And one is a beautiful abstract collection of photos of a carnival he happened upon, back in Canada.

*

And here is a photo of a very strange poster that I saw in Manali this summer.

Jedi Throat massage-1