Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday with the Cornishes

As our days count down, we try to cram as much quality time in with friends and family. A cloudy Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to go on a hike through the woods and sand dunes with my cousin Talita and family.

We're gonna miss these guys!
Fun fact: Talita's husband Camaron is also my chiropractor!
Poor little Coco has become a lady. She's going through her first heat, and just absolutely hated to wear her fancy diaper pants. This photo captured a rare moment of relaxation.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Poop and pumpkins

Trying to keep an American tradition alive, we participated in a few Halloweenish activities. Winter and Sterling attend activity days with the American ward and had a pumpkin painting activity. Ginger got to carve her pumpkin with Joe.
It was very difficult to find suitable pumpkins for carving/decorating. I must have visited 6 different garden centers and grocery stores, to find these specially marked pumpkins for decoration. They even came with stickers marking where to cut, which is exactly how Ginger believed it should be carved and no different.Our ward organized an amazing Halloween party. The kind of party I remember going to when I was a kid in Holland. I'm not sure why Americans don't go all out like this, perhaps because of the massive cleanup that is required.
Ginger dressed up as a princess, with her new dress from India. It would have been funny to video the response she got from virtually every person passing her on the street.
Sterling chose to be a zombie, and really enjoyed ripping up some of my old clothes to create his costume.
Each room in the church had a different activity. The nursery housed a poop-disecting station. The kids had to dig through (fake) feces to find some egg larve (jelly beans)
All in all it was a great success. The kids were a bit disappointed with the small quantity of candy they received, but I was relieved. No sugar-induced coma for just one year!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Staying off the computer was especially hard after dinner. But some great results have come out of it already. Things I got out of it:

A trip to the library
Sorting through Winter and my clothes, getting rid of old/ ill-fitting clothes
A picnic on the living room floor
Reading 4 books to the kids
Better supervision of chores
Cooked dinner (alright... it was pizza, but still!)
And an overall better mood from myself.



[uh-dik-shuhn] Show IPA
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically

According to this definition, I am addicted to spending time on my computer. And as with any addiction, it takes away from other important things in my life. Such as house keeping, spending time with kids, and personal development and spiritual growth.

It came to me last night as I was pondering the disobedience and consistent bad mood of my kids. Kids in India have many more chores and responsibilities, yet they do them without complaining. The only conclusion I can thus come to, is that it's somehow my fault that they haven't learned obedience and content.

In order to somewhat keep the level of my addiction private, I'm not ready to divulge just how much time I spend on average every day. However, I am ready to share my goal as to overcome and/or improve myself. Somewhat like a test. Starting today, I will not get on my computer AT ALL while my kids are home and awake for a week. No more early morning email checks, or afternoon TV show watching. This plan still leaves me with plenty of computer face time. At work I still have nothing to do but sit on the computer, and of course the kids go to bed around 8pm, which leaves me with an additional 2 hours at night. After the first week, I will assess the results and see if occasional email checks won't hinder my other goals.

As with all addiction I anticipate some withdrawal symptoms, but hope the benefits will make the process easier. A clean house, cooked meals, and time spent with kids are enticing benefits!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 4 - Friday

Every day the children get up at 5.30am to clean the dormitories. They do it without complaint!
I wanted to bring something for the children, but it had to be small and light, so we could bring enough for everyone. Sterling loves his silly bands, which is the perfect solution. They are all different shapes, and they are colorful. Trying to find a good system for passing them out was difficult. They all just gather around and hold up their hands.
It was interesting to me how almost all of them asked for a blue one. I was expecting to get requests for pink from the girls.
October is supposed to be monsoon season, but year has been especially dry. This is why an impromptu playing session was initiated when the rain came pouring down.

Pathway sits on a large plot of land, which is kept up and worked on by local workers. Today while walking from our "quarters" to the school, they were shucking coconuts. They opened one for us, and it was delicious!
Our plans to go to the village for more shopping this morning didn't happen, since the school bus needed to go to the hospital. Instead, we had a speed-shopping trip after classes and before dinner. I bought 4 saris (3 for sisters), and some other little gifts. The blouses would take too long to make, but those could also be made in the US (by me). I prefer to make my own blouse anyways, since the last one they made is too short, and also dips too low in the back: that's the Indian way, but I asked specifically for some alterations which didn't get executed.
This is in the middle of town. Notice the mud, trash, and shacks
Sunsets are shorter in India for some reason. But they sure are beautiful!
After tutoring some girls for their 8th grade algebra, we headed back to the dormitories to teach me to write my name in Tamil. Anytime I'm with the kids, they gather closely around, which makes it even hotter!
Power outtage is a regular thing here. Some buildings have backup-generators, but most buildings including the school and dining hall don't. So when the power goes out while dinner is served at 7.30pm, the kids eat in the dark with flashlights.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 3

In the mornings between breakfast and school, kindergarten through 4th grade gathers on the porch of the girls' dormitory to recite the alphabet and counting. Children take turns standing in front. That girl says it, and then the rest says it. The girls and boys are separated a lot of the time. For eating, downtime, and of course their dormitories
This is Anna. Anna is from Utah, and is an amazing figure drawer. She is here for the next 2 months, before starting BYU. She is teaching art classes to 7 & 8 grade, as well as the drawing class for the special kids. It has been very nice to have another American girl around, and we are so similar! It's weird to think how old I am... She's 19, and by the time she is my age, Winter will already be 22! I might even be a grandma by then; Now that's a scary thought!!
Today I acted as the school photographer. I wanted to get class pictures are well as individual shots of these super cute kids. I only finished about half of the school. The hardest thing was to make them smile. For some reason they are insecure about their smiles, even though their teeth are pearly white.
Joe showed some of the kids a video that my kids made in the summer.
Pathway has to feed a lot of kids. And each meal is a warm meal which is prepared by the cooks. Most meals consist of rice with a sauce. Then there's a side with vegetables, or tortilla type things, or rice made crisps.
They make us sit at a separate table, and they cook different food for us. I wish we could just eat the same as the kids, but they are very worried that that food will be too spicy for us. My favorite is the warm sweet milk that is served with breakfast and dinner. It comes fresh from the school's dairy cows.
I think I might have a rash on my forearms. Heat rash, or maybe some little insect.. I can't possibly have that many mosquito bites on my arms! Plus, the itching is under my sleeve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 2 at the farm

I made the mistake of going to bed early (9pm), and am paying for it now at 1am, not being able to sleep at all. Our first full day at the farm was fantastic. We really got a better feel for the day to day activities that the children go through. Although we missed breakfast, the staff saved us a special plate.

The largest scorpion I've ever seen
The Benac tractor
While all the children at the Chennai center are disabled, most children at the farm are “normal” children whose parents can’t take care of them for one reason or another. They live at the farm, and also attend school here. The education is excellent. It is all given in English, so the children learn to speak a second language. Their native tongue is Tamil.

Wanting to help, I asked the principle what I could do. He asked which subjects I am good at, to which I answered math. He seemed excited, and took me to 9th grade where he would teach math the coming hour. He said I could watch first, and then teach. Wow! If I had known how advanced this math would be, I might have never said I was good at math! Super complicated Algebra equations that I don’t remember how to solve. It was fun though to switch on my brain, and try to follow along. Next time I say I’m good at math, I’ll make sure he understands I’m only capable of teaching the low grades.There are too many children to fit into the dining hall all at once, so they eat in shifts, girls and boys separated. Before each meal the kids stand next to their tables and recite a prayer, which is really sweet to see. I really wish my children could live and learn from these children for a few days or weeks. They never complain, and happily eat any food they are given.
Any time I walk anywhere, all the children say “sister, sister!”, and the ones who speak English will ask a a million questions. They all pull you 5 different directions and want you to follow them.
Between classes or while the other group is eating, the second group hangs out in the hallway and out front. Today, the girls were all braiding each other’s hair, and when I sat with them, some braided mine as well.
My favorite part of today was the hour before dinner. All the little girls were in their dormitory playing games and talking. When Anna and I came in, they danced and sang for us. Joe had the camera at this point, so I only got video. Oh… Anna is a girl from Utah, who is volunteering for 2 months. She is teaching art classes as extracurricular.

She has also organized an art class for the disabled group of men. These adults live on the farm, where they participate in vocational activities such as wood working and maintenance. Their creativity is amazing!
The heat is still a challenge to live with. I can’t imagine what it would be like to come here in the summer time. Our room has air conditioning, so that helps a lot at night, but during the day we are just in the heat. The school is very open and airy and with the fans in classrooms, it’s quite comfortable. However, I still just need to come to terms with the fact that I’m just sweaty and wet all day long. A little negative side effect I seem to be having is swelling of my ankles. They haven’t been this swollen since I was 8 months pregnant with Winter! Good thing my clothes cover my legs!

In the afternoon all the children gather for song singing and prayer in front of the school
Marie, the head cook told me she would be going to the local village to purchase vegetables, so Anna and I asked to tag along to do some shopping. I’ve purchased some clothing in Chennai, but those Salwar Kameez sets are sort of fancy, and I really wanted to buy a plain every-day sari. I can’t believe how cheap mine was: 180 rupees ($3.60) for the sari fabric. 150 rupees ($3) for the stitching of the blouse. 100 rupees ($2) for the under skirt. So all in all, I have a custom made sari for less than $9. The measurements for the blouse were taken by a tiny tailor shop in a little alley (hopefully I’ll still be able to wear the blouse post-pregnancy!) and will be ready for pickup tomorrow!
The village was bustling!
Most of the shops next to the main road have no side walk. Instead, they have big dirt piles often littered with trash
On a side note; I’m sort of paranoid about mosquitos and malaria, so I apply repellant at least 3 times a day. Somehow a mosquito still got me once yesterday, and I’m really praying it won’t give me malaria. The food is really great. We eat slightly different food than the children, I think they make it less spicy for us. The quantity seems low, yet it totally fills me up, and keeps me going for hours. To be safe I haven’t eaten any fruit or raw vegetables, and luckily haven’t gotten sick at all. The water here is treated by reversed osmosis, and Joe and I treat it with our little UV Steripen just to be safe, so no problem there.

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