What I witnessed when I walked in Ender’s room stopped me in my tracks, then made me roll my eyes and run for the camera.  And while my reaction was a lot less severe than it would have been a couple of months ago, I still warned the kids not to go anywhere near Ender’s room today while the workers were up there putting the new tile in.  Why, you might ask?

Well, because their power tools were hooked into the 220 outlet in the following manner:

And, yes, they ARE working in a bathroom with plumbing and leaky pipes.  I’m expecting a panicked scream and dimming lights at any moment.

And, yes, the wall really IS that dirty.  🙁  I think it has moved up to the top of the “next to be painted” list.

Well, it is with great shame and embarrassment that I have to say that we seem to have a problem here.  For the past two nights,  our home has been invaded by a very unwanted pest.  The cats, who alerted us to the this problem, don’t understand why we cower and shriek while they have the time of their lives playing with these new curiosities.

Yes, folks, in the past two nights we have been visited by 3 cockroaches.

It happens like this:  The cats find a cockroach and start throwing it in the air like a crunchy, crawly juggling ball.  The noise and commotion alerts a kid (who is supposed to be asleep), and the yelling starts.  I come trudging up the stairs, wondering with on earth the problem is, only to be confronted with cats and roaches being launched through the air and two young spectators laughing and cheering like its a day at the circus.  All of the playful warfare has the benefit of leaving an upside-down, stunned roach in the middle of the room, making it easy for me to put a cup over it, slide a piece of paper under it, and flick it out over the side of the balcony.  (I can’t crush them…I’m much too squeamish, and would end up puking my guts out shortly afterward if I tried.)

Now I am at a loss to explain how this could be happening, for a variety of reasons.  Let me list them:

1.  The kitchen is clean.  The food is put away.  It is by far the cleanest house I have ever lived in due to the fact that I have someone who actually CLEANS it EVERY day. (And the fact that we have very little food!)

2. We have never before seen any evidence of them.  The cats are going nuts catching them, so its certain that they would have been going nuts catching them all these months if we had an infestation, and they do leave little telltale signs if they are around, signs that I have not seen.

3.  They are not even IN the kitchen.  All three have been found on the 2nd floor, in the common area between Addie and Ender’s rooms.  There’s no food up there!  ( I have no evidence that Ender has been stashing uneaten food in his room, though I certainly can’t rule that out…he IS pretty sneaky.)

I can deny their right to exist here all I want, but the truth is, they are here, and I’m certainly not happy about it.

The teachers at school told me that it is common this time of year, that they come in when it starts warming up.  Maybe…but where are they getting in??

I do have 1 theory, but I have my doubts…  We brought a bunch of plants for Addie’s room this weekend.  Could the little (ok…BIG) buggers been clinging to them?  Maybe hiding in the stalks, just waiting to spring out as soon as the coast was clear?  Could be, I just don’t know.

Anyway, I’m finding a solution this weekend.  Exterminator?  Window and door sealer?  Plant disposal?

Or, perhaps, just a few more cats! 🙂

I’ll leave you with a version of the words to that well-known Spanish song that I have unfortunately been humming to myself for the last 2 days.

Traditional:

La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
Ya no puede caminar
Porque no tiene, porque le falta
Las dos patitas de atrás

Translation:

The cockroach, the cockroach,
Can’t walk anymore
Because it doesn’t have, because it’s lacking
Its two back feet

There is a version that is probably more popular, but less family friendly.  You can read all about it here, if you like!

Let me start by saying that this has absolutely nothing to do with India.

For those of you who don’t know, my son Ender is named after a very popular character in the world of Science Fiction.  The “Ender’s Game” series of books, by Orson Scott Card, is legendary.  I was first introduced to “Ender’s Game” in High School, when Mr. Elliot, my English teacher, gave us a choice between reading “Farenheit 451” or “Ender’s Game“.  Being the geek that I was, I chose the much longer of the two of them, and my life was never the same.  In the years that followed, I read and re-read the book countless times, along with others and the series, and somehow managed to find a husband who was a fan of the series as well.

Ender’s Game” is the story of an incredible young boy who has been bred and trained to become a military genius capable of making the decisions that can save the human race.  We named our son Ender due to the fact that this character had all of the same qualities that we would like to see in our own child.  Honesty, Integrity, Bravery, Resilliance, Drive, and an incredible, far-reaching Intelligence.  While a 6 year old who encompasses all of these qualities all the time will most likely remain the stuff of science fiction, it is certainly not a stretch to hope that a kid grows up with those qualities.

Anyway, to the real point of this story.  About a year and a half ago, I found that a book was being written called the “Authorized Ender Companion.”  The authors were looking for short essays on how the book had changed people’s lives.  On a whim, I decided to write a little snippet and send it in, a combination story of my love of the book and a good bit about the real-life Ender that we had given rise to.  Then, I promptly forgot about it.

Fast-forward to today.  Scott was contacted by a woman representing the publishers.  She was looking for me with a form to sign giving permission to have my essay published in the book.  It sounds like she had been looking for quite a while, as she mentioned that I was a very hard person to track down.

All this leads me to believe that this thing might actually get published!  I can’t wait to see if they use it.  I always knew my boy would be famous some day! 🙂

1.  Ender’s bathroom is still not fixed.  The sink is lying in an ugly heap in the middle of the floor and Ender is having nightmares about monsters hiding in the crumbling brick walls.

2.  Addie’s room is painted.  It looks beautiful and jungly (is that a word?).  It has 2 brown walls and 1 green wall, and many large potted palms scattered around.  It scared her the first night, as it makes the whole room A LOT darker, but she is getting used to it and seems quite happy with her choice.

3.  The landlord seemed less than pleased with Addie’s color choice for her room, noting that he usually doesn’t paint the walls that dark because other people might not like them.  I pointed out that we were going nowhere any time soon, and that we’d be glad to paint them back to their ugly, water-stained, nicked and scraped, poorly-masked state when we do leave. 

4.  Addie wouldn’t go to bed tonight…she was too busy reading a book all about Charles Darwin.  I, of course, wasn’t about to tell her to stop.  She may be tired tomorrow, but at least she’ll be well-read and knowledgable.  I’m so very proud of her!

5.  The donuts at Mountain Bakery tend to be a little too doughy for my taste, but it really doesn’t matter when you are desperate for an American-style sugar fix!  You don’t get many choices as far as flavors or types go, but at least they are round and have a hole in the middle!  I’m so glad that a teacher at the school informed me of the bakery’s existance!

6.  Ender, though absolutely brilliant and remarkably sweet at times, really needs an attitude adjustment.  He screamed himself to sleep tonight due to the fact that I read Addie 1 chapter more of a book than I read to him at bedtime.  With the way he carries on, I keep expecting the Indian version of social services at my door any day.

7.  I have a splitting headache due to Ender’s lack of self-control. 

8.  We have a neighborhood girl, several years older than Addie and Ender, who seems to have taken a liking to us and our house.  So much so, that she makes herself at home by opening the door and letting herself in anytime without even knocking.  Scott says that it is a cultural thing.  I don’t know, but I still am trying to figure out how to make her go home.  She doesn’t seem to take hints. 

9.  Summer is well on its way.  It is getting hotter and hotter here with each passing day, and starting to get uncomfortable outside at midday.  I know this is only the beginning, and I am not looking forward to what is to come.  Fortunately, our community has that pool.  However……

10.  The pool is empty once again….

Two months, that is, for a package to make its way from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Hyderabad- assuming it makes it at all.

Our friends, Heidi and Paul, were kind enough to send us this little care package containing 2 stuffed animals, some fruit snacks, some m&m’s and various sundries.  Several packages have been sent to us since we moved here.  Only this one has actually made it.  The package in question was sent on November 28th, and arrived on January 28th.

The kids were delighted when they came running in the house with the package, and I still have yet to figure out just who came by and handed it to them.  The box was crushed and misshapen, and you could tell that the tape had been unstuck.  Examination of the contents proved that someone had indeed been rummaging around in it, as 1 of the stuffed animals was MIA.  I like to think he/she is now being cuddled by some little child who never had a stuffed toy before, but its just as likely to be a hood ornament for somebody’s auto-rickshaw.

Anyway, we were thrilled with the package, and thankful to Heidi and Paul for sending is this little reminder of home.  However, I wouldn’t recommend anyone else try to send anything…there are still two packages floating around India somewhere with our name on them, and its been far more than 2 months for them….

As I was going through my pictures, I noticed that either Addie or Ender had taken the camera at some point while we were shopping at the little store near our house.  I’m not certain the reason that they snapped this photo, but I found it kind of funny.

Not exactly the images you are used to conjuring up when I say the words “Fast Food”.   While I must admit that the food will probably be as fast or faster here than from an American “fast food” joint, my guess is that with the amount of oil and frying that is usually involved in cooking here, the health benefits (read:  detriments) are quite similar.

I’m wondering if the the motorcycle is at all involved in the “fast” part of this fast food?

Addie brought a box of chalk back with her from the US.  The really big sticks of chalk, about 30 of them to a box.  I am sad to say that this chalk has already been used up and we are left with only a few little pieces that slip out of little fingers and cause scraped knuckles with each stroke on the blacktop.  However, it was put to a very good use, as Addie, Ender and their friends spent many long hours decorating the driveway and road.  In fact, at one point, there were drawings covering the road all the way up to the circle where you come in…3 houses past ours, and at least 6 little girls drawing their hearts out.

Here’s some scenes:

It was during a tour of this frenzy of artistic design that I made a delightful discovery.  Addie and a friend from the neighborhood had created the following design:

In case you can’t tell, that’s the flag of the United States and the flag of India, proudly waving together for all to see.  Kids can teach us so much.

Our friend, Steve, takes issue with the fact that Ender is shirtless for a great deal of his photos.  What can I say, I just can’t seem to keep clothes on the kid!  Truth of the matter is, he sleeps in only boxer shorts each night, and doesn’t ever get dressed properly unless we are actually going somewhere, thereby resulting in a lot of shirtless time for him.  We seriously don’t even notice, but I suppose that when you live somewhere as cold as Wisconsin, so much bare flesh seems rather strange…in Wisconsin right now it would result in hypothermia!

Anyway, here’s yet another picture of my exhibitionist kid.  Stuffed in a bucket, no less!

We had a wonderful time in Florida, even if it was only for 4 short days. It felt as if we packed a whole 2 week vacation into those 4 days, but unfortunately weren’t able to see everyone we wanted to see.  We will come again to Florida in the summer, where we plan to pack a whole year into 1 month, and we hope to see everyone again then.  We miss everybody so much!

Here’s a brief rundown of what we did those 4 days.

We:

Reconnected with our spouses. (yes, they really tell people that they are married!)

And went swimming with them.

Got our ears pierced.

And found it didn’t hurt so much with good friends around.

Learned to draw.

Fed the fish.

Attacked Daddy.

Celebrated the New Year.

Had Lunch with Friends.

Got Arrested.

Broke out of Jail.

Became a firefighters.

I, myself, managed to spend lots of time hanging out and chatting with my friend Maureen, who even accompanied me to the salon to get a new hairdo and kept me from falling to pieces on several occasions.  (Thanks, Maureen!)

It was a wonderful time, and it was incredibly hard for us to leave again.  The scene in the airport when Maureen and Kaylee dropped us off was emotional and difficult, and the flight home was quiet and reflective.

Thank you to everyone who came out to make our vacation to the US so fantastically memorable.  Its the thought of all the wonderful people that I will someday come back to, and the support that you give me while I am here, that keeps me sane from day to day.

Let’s just say, summer can’t come too soon!  We’ll see you all then!

Scott and I seem to have bad luck with plumbing.  It seems that at every house we have ever lived in, we have, at some point, detected a catastrophic leak in some part of the plumbing system, usually involving the bathroom.

In South Milwaukee, in a 80 year old house, we had horrible troubles.  Every time we turned around, something was leaking somewhere.  The toilet alone (presumably as old as the house), developed an undetected leak that eventually led to a complete reflooring and subsequent remodelling of the bathroom.  Scott became so touchy about plumbing at that point, that I was able to pull the best April Fool’s day prank on him ever by running screaming into the bedroom, waking him from a sound sleep, and frantically telling him how water was spraying everywhere in his newly remodelled bathroom.  You’ve never seen somebody move so fast in all your life!

After that experience, Scott swore he would never have an “Old” house again.  However, in South Elgin, Illinois, in a brand new home that had never been lived in, we had water coming through the ceiling from a second-floor hot tub.  So much for new homes having good plumbing.

In West Palm Beach, our little 80’s house was shoddily made (but well-loved!), and had its fair share of problems with the plumbing as well, again resulting in a complete re-do of one of the bathrooms.

Scott did a beautiful job with this bathroom, even going so far as to take out a closet to increase the size of it.  He redid all the very poor plumbing into a beautiful work of piping art, almost a shame to cover it all by a wall.

Lucky for us, during our trip back to the US this Christmas, we got the pleasure of seeing it all again.

It seems that by some twist of fate, the beautiful plumbing job decided to start leaking just as we arrived in Florida on Sunday night.  We didn’t detect it until the next morning, when a puddle of water on the floor in the living room alerted us to the problem.  Upon further inspection (which involved me putting my ear to the wall), we found that it wasn’t just leaking, it was SPRAYING out. (Hearing water spraying inside a wall is never a good thing).  My exact words:  “Scott, Open this wall…NOW!”

So, a good portion of Scott’s time in Florida was spent repairing this problem.  Here’s a nice view of Scott’s plumbing handiwork.

I am sorry to say that the plumbing curse has followed us all the way to India.  In the year that Scott has been here, leaks have been detected on 3 separate occasions.  Water marks line many of the walls, and poor paint jobs are unable to conceal the previous damage.

Last week, I heard dripping outside.  I went to the kitchen to find that water was leaking down the wall and through the door from a damaged pipe above.  We thought it was a pipe on the outside of the house leading up to Ender’s room, but it turns out that it was actually IN Ender’s bathroom and was just leaking so much that the water was now spraying out of the hole the pipe went into, on the outside of the house.  By the time someone came to take care of this, the leak had spread to the stairwell, causing one whole wall to be wet and water to be dripping from the ceiling. (Not to mention the fact that we ran out of water due to the fact that we only recieve a set amount of water each day).

Here’s what Ender’s bathroom looks like now:

As you can see, its the same idea as in Florida, however it is much harder to get to due to the fact that you have to chip away BRICK in order to find the pipes.  Scott is thanking his lucky stars that he’s not responsible for fixing THIS house!  With the Indian sense of timeliness, I expect Ender’s bathroom to be usable by May or so.

Hmmm…perhaps the US and India are not so different after all, at least not when it comes to plumbing!