Archive for the ‘At home’ Category

Rather shakily, I realize that we’ve been home for well over a month!  It’s certainly been a blur, and feels a bit like coming back to the office after a prolonged and un-compensated absence.

In one month, we’ve filled up an exhausting schedule.  First off, we battled West to East jet-lag for at least a week (much worse than flying west).  During this week, we traveled 3 hours to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  My mother-in-law would wake at 2am to the clink of spoons on cereal bowls – we were up and ready to go!

Although I have traveled in Asia before, the “reverse culture shock” still got me.  The wide, sterile, empty roads of our neighborhood.  The outrageous consumption.  Snow in April.  If not white, brown.  The isolating impact of a cold and car-driven city.  Unhappy, tired, unfriendly faces.  Alligator skin (mine).   Obesity.  Frenetic business.  Sarcasm and bullying amongst young kids as normal interaction.

I can’t believe that the fax I just sent would have bought a lovely restaurant dinner in Bali, or paid somebody’s wages for a couple of days.   I hate filling up the mini-van, realizing how much I consume here, and that one fill-up would pay a Balinese salary for a month.   (Don’t worry, I’m trying to remember the positives of our culture as well, such as “universal” quality health-care).  But, if I felt that I lived in Consumer Central before, now I know that I do.

The busy-ness has also quickly dug in it’s tenacious claws:  In the space of one month,

1) I start a new part-time teaching job and additional locum work.  Because my new schedule doesn’t leave quite enough time (or energy) for homeschooling, I plan to hire an education student to come in the mornings.

2) Dan, ever frugal, decides that he instead will home-school.

3) Dan still runs his company.   After 2 weeks of this,

4) Kids start at a new public school.  New supplies, routines, bus schedules.

5) Dan, ever frugal, decides to repair broken Subaru motor, himself.  It has cracked valves.

5)  Dan and kids (while homeschooling) plan a huge birthday BBQ party at our house,  to which they invite well over 50 people (thank goodness the sun shone).

6)  Kids activities resume: soccer season (Dan coaching Vivi’s team), along with the return to Aikido, piano, violin lessons, and play-dates.

7)  Miscellaneous re-entry items such as haircuts, dental and doctor appointments.

8)   Unhappy return to housekeeping:  shopping and cooking 3x/day, 7days/week  for a family of 4 that acts and eats like 10.  Cleaning and endless laundry piles.

Yes, we should have stayed in Bali longer.  But, there are moments that I am affirmed that our trip was not just escapism.  For instance, at the mall, my 6-year old girl exclaiming, “Mom, you don’t need to buy me sandals and a bathing-suit!  That’s too much and you’ll spoil me”.  Or, nightly, the kids praying for the Japanese people hurt by the earthquake and tsunami.

Or Théo reminding his sister how much they have compared to the majority of kids in the world, and how stuff doesn’t necessarily make people happy.

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Goodbye to Mystere

Théo and I found 6-week old Mystère at a country market, 2 and 1/2 years ago.  Mystère had such an affectionate, patient personality, that we couldn’t resist.  For those first few months, he loved to sleep on our heads or under our chins.  His loud, never-ending purr would keep us awake at night.  Vivi could drag him around like a doll, and he would just relax and go limp.

Mystère loves people, and is often found wherever the kids are playing.  He meets us at the door, like a dog.  Vivianne keeps insisting, “He’s my cat, right?”

Unfortunately, Mystère is ill and the vet is not hopeful.  Our cat could pass away before we return.  We have to say goodbye now, in case we never see him again.  We will miss him so much!

Thanks to our friends J., D., K., and J., for caring for Mystère in our absence.

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The kids were aware that we have a stopover in Los Angeles, on our way to Hong Kong.  What they didn’t know has allowed us all to sleep for the past two months.  Disneyland is, in their imaginations, the most magical, exciting place in the world.

Dan organized a treasure hunt of clues around the house for “the reveal”.  Here they are with the last clue, a photo of Mickey and Minnie.

Theo was overcome with emotion and disappeared into his room.  To show his appreciation, having been told many times how expensive Disneyland is, he came out with the heartfelt contribution of a $10.00 bill.  Vivi offered 75 cents.  We managed to convince them that money wasn’t necessary.

Théo then had another idea and off the kids went again to their rooms.  They came back with these for us:

Théo went on to say, “It’s o.k. Maman et Papa, you don’t have to do this for us, it’s too much, we know you love us . . .  We don’t know how to thank you . . .”   Many hugs and kisses and bouncing off walls (literally) ensued until way past bedtime.

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Six More Sleeps!

Countdown to plane day has started!  Théo and Vivi are vibrating with excitement.

Packing lightly, however, for the next three months,  is for me no easy task.  I have been known to be “over-prepared”.  Perhaps wisdom may be found in the following quotations:

  • “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money”. Susan Heller
  • “He who would travel happily must travel light”. Antoine de St. Exupery

Meanwhile, Vivianne performed one last time before putting the violin away for three months.  Apparently, frequent travel and high humidity can wreak havoc on this little instrument.  We will miss hearing her practice.

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