Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday Random 5: Back To School Edition

The International Man of Intrigue bought me a fancy schmancy MacBook Air for Mother’s Day. It gave me the feeling I should get up and blog again. Lucky for us all, I decided to lie down until that feeling passed. Now it’s mid-August, mid-day, and mid-laundry, and I feel like indulging all five of you who asked that I start blogging again. The rest of you will just have to put up with me! 

Before I go on into my actual topic for the day, most of you know what we’ve been up to for the last year an a half. Some of you don’t. Here’s the short version, including the addition of Little Explorer Number Four: We moved back to the states two Januarys ago. We miss living overseas and hope to go back after this tour. For now, we’re enjoying eating cheese and walking around Target. In December, little Laura Ingalls Wilder joined our family through adoption. She is the apple of everyone’s eye. Arthur Dent was too busy becoming wrapped around her teeny tiny preemie finger to even notice he’d been unseated as the baby of the family. Amelia Earhart has become more, ahem, in charge, and Gertrude Bell continues being the free spirit she is.

Now, on to today’s topic. As my Facebook friends know, every week on Tuesday I join friends in posting a “Random 5” things. Sometimes it’s really random, and sometimes the observations are connected. This week they all seemed to have to do with school. They also seemed to be longer than usual, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dust off the blog. Here goes!

Tuesday Random 5, Back To School Edition:

1. I try never to drop my kids off for their first day. I leave that task to The International Man of Intrigue if at all possible. I just don’t handle it well. As excited as I was for the constant bickering to end, and the chance to grocery shop with only two kids in tow, I knew I couldn’t see them settling into their new classrooms without tears. Not theirs, mine. I sobbed like a baby when Amelia Earhart rode away on the bus to kindergarten in Sri Lanka. When we got back to the US, she started kindergarten after Christmas. Having done the whole first day of school once already, I handled it like a champ and managed to make it to the parking lot before getting my ugly cry on. Now that The International Man of Intrigue realizes my predisposition to tears, he does his best to take the morning off from global diplomacy and be the parent to have to hold it together.

2. So, Amelia Earhart is entering second grade. On back to school night, she walked up to a group of girls who were in her class last year and said “hi” and called them each by name. They ignored her. Luckily, she didn’t seem to notice, but it made us realize that the days of “mean girls” aren't too far away for her. I know she’s not always nice, but I’ve made it my mission to teach my kids that even if they don’t like someone, they have to be kind. The problem with not being a “mean girl” is that it seems like either you are one, or you’re the target for one. It’s pretty hard to fit anywhere else. I know it’s hard to believe, but I, the amazing Dorothy Gale, spent a good portion of grade school and high school as the target of the mean crowd. Fifth grade was particularly brutal. There was a girl who used to corner me and kick me in the bathroom. There was a boy who would kick me as hard as he could in the shins every time he walked by my desk. My best friend since first grade told me she couldn’t be my friend anymore because she had to go be popular. I spent most of that year with bruised legs and a bruised heart. I grew up in a really small town, so everyone I went to school with probably knows just which jerks I’m talking about. Unfortunately, I also realize, looking back, that I was mean to a few people myself. I think the idea of being even a little less of a loser was to blame, but it’s really not an excuse and I feel terrible about it still. Anyway, all this is to say that I would be heartbroken to find out I raised a kid who was mean. Unfortunately, that means I’ll probably be heartbroken to be raising a kid who is picked on by the mean crowd. 

3.  I am very thankful that our kids got the chance to be Little Explorers. I know there were plenty of people who thought taking them to Sri Lanka was crazy and stupid. Traveling to Nepal, Bangladesh, and across India with three kids 5 and under? Obviously we had hit our heads on something and our brains were worse for the wear. Well, it turns out there was brilliance there after all. (Was there any doubt?) Turns out that one of the extra benefits of taking a year off of preschool to travel the world is courage. Amelia Earhart has always been outgoing and a risk taker. Gertrude Bell is very much an introvert and takes a while to warm up to people. She doesn’t care for new social situations or chaos. She does, however, embrace the opportunity to try new things. She’s participated in some activities with Amelia Earhart’s Girl Scout troop and, while she’s still very much the introvert, she steps up in many situations and ventures outside of her comfort zone to try new things. Yesterday, on the first day of school, Amelia Earhart and Gertrude Bell both hugged The International Man of Intrigue goodbye and started second grade and kindergarten tear free. I wish I could say the same for their parents.

4. “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone. I never understood this quote until I had kids, and I don’t think I really understood it until I sent my first baby off to school. Ouch. It sums all of it up so well, though, doesn’t it?

5.  As if to wrap up my thoughts on this matter, I heard the theme song to the movie “The Breakfast Club” on the radio this morning. Which kid were you? (I don’t think I have to explain. See #2.)

That’s this week’s Tuesday 5. Should I keep it in blog format or go back to Facebook? Either way, I’ll try to be less serious next week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Curses and Cucumbers and Carrots, Oh My!

I know I’ve talked about grocery shopping in Sri Lanka before (here), but now that I’ve been here a while, I feel like it’s time to revisit it, specifically with my trip to the store yesterday.
I do know that we are fortunate to have actual grocery stores here. For that, I owe a HUGE shout out to British colonialism and David Sime Cargill who started a warehouse, import, and wholesale store in 1844. In most other countries in this region, getting groceries means going to a shop that has meat, then one that has bread, then one that has produce, then one that has eggs, and then who knows how many other shops to find everything one needs. I could definitely do that here, as well, but thanks to Mr. Cargill, I have Cargill’s Food City and one or two other chains of grocery stores to frequent. Since I also have three Little Explorers and approximately zero patience, I am eternally grateful to Mr. Cargill.
All that being said, getting groceries in this country still is no easy task. I used to be an obsessive menu planner and coupon clipper. I actually enjoyed the whole process of making a list, putting coupons in order, and knowing what was for dinner every week. That all came to a screeching halt when we moved here. First off, there are no coupons. Fine. I can deal with that. The real issue is that, while I make a list, I can no longer be bound to it, nor make a menu based on it. I can’t guarantee that the things on my list will be in the store, even if they were there last week. I don’t know which produce will be fresh and which will be a bit past its prime. I just don’t know what’s going to happen once I push through those doors and grab a shopping cart. Shall I demonstrate with an example? Allow me to take you inside my head during my most recent grocery buying experience:
Thanks, old dude in the white sarong and jacket whose job it is to open the door. I’m going to miss you. Have you considered getting your visa and moving to the States to be a greeter at Wal-Mart? I’ll bet they let you keep the sarong with the uniform blue vest.
Oooh, the produce looks nice today. I love living on a tropical island where the fruit is so yummy and tropical. Pineapples are in season. I wish I wasn’t allergic. Perhaps I’ll get one for the rest of the family. Dragonfruit. I love dragonfruit. Here are cucumbers. I’ll get a bunch of those for Gertrude Bell since she loves them so much. Carrots, check. Apples, check. Mangoes and papaya, check. Onions and bell pepper, or as they call it here, capsicum, check. Capsicum is a weird word. Ok, now to line up and get this stuff weighed and priced.
I’ll just get behind this old lady with the cart full of produce. Maybe it won’t take as long as I imagine. I’d better push my cart up to the side to be out of the way of other shoppers. Ooh, I guess I should get closer before that lady in the red blouse cuts in front of me. Obviously, I’m not in line if there are more than three inches between me and the old lady. The International Man of Intrigue uses the euphemism “butts to nuts” to describe lines here, but, as I have none of the latter, and as my brain is supposed to be PG, I’ll refrain. Good, the old lady is finished. Wait, what is she saying? Something in Sinhalese. Oh, that is a scary look. What? WHAT?? Oh. My. God. I think she just cursed me. She did! She gave me the evil eye and cursed me and I was just trying to buy cucumbers! What the heck?! I’m sorry I’m foreign! I’m sorry I smiled at you! I’m sorry I have to buy groceries and now I’m cursed! Aaaagh!
Okay, the produce is weighed. Calm down. On to the noodles. I really want some soba noodles but I bet they don’t have those here. Nope. Tons of ramen. What are these bags? “Special Noodles.” More “special noodles.” I have no idea what that means. Hey, Sri Lanka…If you tell all the noodles they’re special, they’re going to think everything they do is perfect. You want a bunch of noodles who think they all deserve the tee ball cricket trophy just for participating? No? Well then stop labeling them all special. While you’re at it, maybe consider getting some soba noodles, okay?

Mmmm. Maldivian dried fish, complete with eyeballs, on display on an endcap. Won’t see that in the States.
I’m hot. Why is it that I sweat as much getting groceries as I do exercising? Move over Jillian Michaels and your 30 Day Shred. Dorothy Gale’s 30 Minute Shop is coming for you!
Okay, now I need yogurt and cheese. Aaah, they have lots of curd. Who knew it could somewhat replace both Greek yogurt and sour cream in my diet. I’m glad there’s no nutrition info on the side. Here’s the brand I like. Should I buy the stuff in the terra cotta pot with the rubber band holding the cover on or the one in the unsealed plastic container? We’ll base that on expiration. Well, this one is expired, so the plastic tub it is! Good. Now, cheese. I really want some feta cheese. I don’t care if it costs nine dollars. I am totally hungry for pasta with feta cheese. NO! Of course! The one day I am willing to pay exorbitant prices for feta cheese and there is none! Fine. Just fine.

What am I listening to? What is this music? I can’t possibly be hearing what I think I’m hearing. Oh, but I am. Get a load of this. Traumatizing, at best.

Frozen foods. Five hundred kinds of chicken sausages. One brand of chicken nuggets, and why are they so tiny? I mean, it would take an entire box just to fill up Arthur Dent. Maybe they’ll have those yummy chicken fingers stuffed with some sort of curry mashed potatoes they had last week. Nope. Of course not. What I wouldn’t give for frozen pizza. Oh, well. Really, I just need to finish my shopping. I need to get out of here before I lose my mind, or before that curse kicks in, but first I have to grab eggs off the unrefrigerated shelf. Hmm. That doesn’t really bother me anymore. Weird. I guess that’s a good thing.
CHECKOUT! I made it. No, lady, I do not have exact change. What is it with the fascination for having exact change? Every single place I go, ever, wants you to always be able to magically produce exact change. Please, stop trying to look into my wallet like I have it, too! I need those small bills sometimes, okay. Don’t make me feel guilty. I’m already cursed. Doesn’t that count for something?
And there you have it, Fellow Adventurers. Exhausting. I’m going to put my feet up and sip on a Coke Light while I cool off. Think of me when you’re cooking dinner tonight, especially if you’re making frozen pizza.