Monday, December 17, 2007

Devi's Opa

Gone from our lives, is our dear Opa, but not from our hearts. December 11, 2007 marks the passing of Thomas Eugene Ross Jr., Patrick's dad. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer of the same type that took my mother on December 8th, 2005. With a grim prognosis and not one for long goodbyes, he announced "Let's get this show on the road" and passed with the determination and will of a fighter pilot just over one week later. Surrounded by his family, he took his last peaceful breaths and thus ends an amazing life. Opa will reach his final resting spot in early January at the Air Force Academy where he taught.

Thankfully, Devi met this great man and was able to bring joy to his life, even waving to him from his bedside the day before his passing. Burned into my memory is their first meeting at SeaTac airport in late September. We've always joked, Tom was crusty on the outside with the softest of middles on the inside. Suffice to say a large chunk of the soft side peaked out that day when the two of their eyes met and she produced a toothless grin for him. Instant buddies discovered.

Cousins Lina, Ryan, Olivia and Jordan with Devi at Opa's memorial

Unfortunate that such sad occasions are what sometimes bring people together, this unexpected turn of events brought all of Devi's young cousins from Colorado and Montana together for the first time. With an age range from 4 to 8 and Devi at one year, they all played together beautifully. I can't tell you how long we have waited to witness this scene! There were countless slobbery kisses exchanged and endless laps, assisted on a cousins' extended fingers on ever more confident Devi tiptoes, through Oma's kitchen and attached living room. Truth be told, I think Devi can walk pretty well alone, but it is much more fun with one of her fun eager cousins leading the way!

Midway through the week long visit, our girl turned into a wilted flower. Fighting an on going fever, her body finally succumbed to a very hard-to-diagnose ear infection. Our first trip to the ER as parents came the night of Opa's memorial service when Devi's temperature reached a brain baking 106°. Nothing a round of antibiotics, Motrin and Tylenol can't cure, but it was a tad bit
scary. Eager to please, Devi is just happy and smiley all the time making it hard to realize that something is wrong. With her coaching, we are learning :)

This afternoon is our second post placement visit. Boy! Do we have alot to share. In addition to this recent series of events we have many new accomplishments to note. Five very efficient sharp teeth fill Devi's tiny mouth. Unassisted steps came a couple of weeks ago along with a few new words like "santa", "moo" and "pup-pup". Blowing bubbles in the bath tub is at the top of her list of favorite fun things to do, just ahead of clapping our hands, bouncing to music and blowing kisses. Look out boys, Devi still loves to give the wet slobbery kind too! Favorite food, hands down, is tomatoes. She cries for more when the last one hits her lips. She loves all vegetables and yogurt, but is not overly keen on meat or fruit other than the good ole bland banana. Usually everything put in front of her is wolfed down before she has a chance to realize if it was fruit, veggie or finger! She loves the kids at daycare and squeals with delight when daddy drops her off. Her favorite activity is the slide, but only climbing up, not the sliding down part :) yet. Devi is a big story time girl too and enjoys the art projects. So far she has feathered a turkey, painted a cookie and made angels out of her hand and foot prints with silver glitter embellishments! We are still transitioning to one nap a day, sometimes taking a "breather" when we get home in the afternoon because daycare can be so exhausting and she continues to sleep through the a constant state of motion around the crib. Thank goodness for containment.

The Christmas tree evokes Devi's constant stare when it is lit, but so far she is just exploring it with her eyes. We'll see just how long that lasts! We hope to give a photo on Santa's lap a try this week as we prepare for the upcoming holiday, but until then, here is what we've been up to.
Fast friends! Especially when food sweetens the deal.

The lengths we will go to for a cup of joe on a Saturday morning!
Although the photo does not show it, it is POURING!

Mama's little helper....Dirty laundry...

...Clean laundry!

The annual Christmas tree hunt...this time with a little helper.
The fallen noble is lying behind us. It is a dandy this year :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Turning the Page to a New Chapter

Today was Devi's first day at the Chinese Christian Day Care and mommy's first day back to work. Mommy worried about everything from the time she got up...Devi's supplies, will she eat, will she nap, will she be missing mommy and daddy, will she be worried that we are not coming to get her....the list goes on and on.

After having watched the clock tick-tock my last hour away, work got hectic and I had to call Pat to go pick Devi up on her first day! Bad mommy. Meanwhile ideas like emptying the savings account and heading to the lotto ticket counter entered my mind or perhaps a big garage sale would earn us enough income to have a couple more months off with her. Amazing how creative one can be when motivated.

Truth be told, Devi had a blast. Somehow this does not surprise me much. Her report for the day, otherwise known as the "Daily News from the Toddler Class" stated the she went to sleep quickly at nap time and slept for an hour. She also received two stickers for being good and had these comments marked...

• I was kind today!
• I used good manners today!
• I enjoyed playing with my new friends!
• I chose wisely and played well with others!
• I enjoyed story time!

Well, if that does not make a mother beam :)!

My day was made when I arrived home to see my girl. She looked different. All grown up. How could this happen in just the few hours she was away from my sight? When she saw me she squealed with delight and grabbed my cheeks with both her chubby little paws and kissed me right smack on the lips (nice and wet like babies do) and it was wonderful. "Mama" she said, and kissed me again, this time patting my back....a family trait. Then it was non-stop babble and smiles about her busy day. I think she was quite proud of herself.

All three of us trotted off to steak night to celebrate our accomplishments. Thats when daddy told us about his tale of woe getting ready this morning. Realizing that bows don't usually go on one's back, Daddy noticed he had put Devi's shirt on backwards. Whoops! The sprout atop her head was suppose to be a ponytail...hmmm....I say it resembled some sort of sea life, but Devi didn't mind, in fact, she looked rather cute.

Closing the final book of the evenings' readings, and taking that last swallow of warm formula, Devi closed her tired eyes. She had a big day. It was a big day for all of us. It was hard, but we made it and tomorrow starts another day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Happy First Birthday!

We celebrated Devi's birthday with her extended family and friends on the November 11th and made it a combination Diwali Indian luncheon and First Birthday party. Guests were greeted by colorful rangoli around our stoop emphasizing hospitality. As they entered, we asked that they each light one of many lanterns or tea lights decorating our home as a symbol of how they bring light to our lives. When all the lanterns were lit inside, it was warm but beautiful!

We threw in part of a Annaprasana ceremony which is really done when a child has his/her first solid food, but because we were not able to share that time with Devi, we thought it would be fun to incorporate parts of the ceremony now. We had Devi crawl toward objects at the end of a blanket. If she reached for the bananas she could likely enter a career in agriculture. The dollar bills represented wealth and perhaps she would become a banker. Reaching for the books would ensure that she would be scholarly perhaps becoming a teacher and if she reached for the pen she would enter a profession like law or medicine. Well, I guess it was no surprise when our chow hound went for the bananas...something edible! I tried waving the dollar bills, but those bright yellow bananas won out in the end!

Samosas with cilantro and lime chutney, Ghee rice, Vegetable Korma, Tandori chicken and Naan made up our luncheon menu. The Indian cooking classes came in handy, but I wouldn't have been able to pull it off if it weren't for my friend Michele who is town from Virginia. As luck would have it, she is an excellent cook and is also a caterer! We worked her like a dog but it was so yummy in the end. Everything was just right with lots of left overs to remind us of this great day.

Birthday cake, hmmm, a food with an interesting texture and flavor. Devi loved having us sing, but honestly, I think she enjoyed the ice cream far more than the cake. Good girl!!! She did manage to have her little brown skinned face covered in white icing but it is debatable if anything actually went in her mouth.

We summed up the afternoon with a loud Happy Diwali shout outside with the popping of hand held mini firecrackers. For our first Diwali holiday, I think we did pretty good :)

Today, November 15th, we spent a quiet evening at home with our friend Michele as it is her last night with us. She treated us to one of her famous home cooked meals of fresh halibut with a Thai curry sauce that was absolutely delicious. Perfect for Devi too, as she LOVES fish. Devi had a small white cake with mango filling and seemed to be getting the hang of things far better on her second try, although "blowing out the candle" still has her baffled. We were joined for cake by our friends, Di Anna and Tim. Tim has given his own two girls roses for their birthdays since they were little and last night began that tradition with Devi, presenting her with her first bouquet of a dozen pink and white roses. Does this girl have the whole neighborhood wrapped around her little finger or what?

Tissue and wrapping paper everywhere, Devi delighted in opening a few small gifts. Pat and I gave her a charm bracelet to grow with. We both wonder what charms of interest will dangle from the chain as she matures. For now, it contains a single heart, formed by twisted vines and leaves of white gold. It seemed fitting, representing the growth and multi faceted depths of our love for her, each other and our family.

Happy First Birthday, my sweet DeeDee! I can hardly believe that today is just one year from the day your biological mother made the most selfless decision of her life; to give you the opportunity
to join and grow in anothers' family. To be loved and offered a life of experiences she could not provide is what she had hoped for you, I'm sure. The ultimate sacrifice.

We are so incredibly blessed to be on the receiving end of her wish. We love you so very very much. You amaze me with your wit, opinions, intelligence and love of life every day. In the spirit of Diwali, little princess, you bring light to our lives. Happy First Birthday!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Devis' Top Ten List

Just a quick update of Devi's top ten favorite things on this wonderful day of Diwali 2007.

10. Taking my own socks off even when mom is still trying to put my shoes ON!

9. Waving hello and goodbye to complete strangers because they almost always wave back.

8. Realizing that Oprah and the muppets are both hilarious.

7. Drenching mommy and daddy during bath time. Splashing water OUT of the kitchen sink is very entertaining.

6. Reading "B is for Bear" over and over because it is my favorite touch and feel book.

5. Admiring myself in the mirror because when I smile my reflection always seems to smile back.

4. Brushing all three of my own teeth by myself.

3. Giving wet kisses to mommy, daddy and Cayenne, the dog (plah, plah, the fur is not so great on my tongue)

2. Clapping my hands! When you're happy and you now it....I DO know it!!

And.... my number one favorite thing is

1. Now that I have a top tooth, I LOVE to hear the crunch of biting goldfish crackers in half before shoving them all the way in.

The delights of a nearly one year old....surely makes one grin from ear to ear.
Happy Diwali

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween!!

Our first Halloween!

Never has carving a pumpkin been so much fun! Devi loved it. She was fascinated by the goop and seeds. Naturally, it went straight into the mouth! She even got a little pumpkin guts between the toes.

We had very few trick-or-treaters this year, but all three of us had a great time handing out candy to 2 pirates, Elmo, a witch, a gypsy, Fred Flintstone and several other visitors! Devi was a bunny, thanks to the adorable bunny coat she received as a gift from her Great Aunt Barbara. A perfect fit!

Mommy and Devi had a busy couple of mornings taking Halloween treats to daddy at work, to mommy's workplace, to Grandpa and Gail, Oma and Opa's house and finally to Carol, our neighbor. She is always sending sweet treats our way and we love an opportunity to return the favor.

We can't wait for next year...will have to start practicing the words "Trick-or-Treat"....tomorrow :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Scratch and Dent!

Last week we went to see Dr. Ayer again. We were hoping for some weight gain and that is just what we got. Topping the scales at 17pounds 12 and a half ounces, Devi has gained just over a pound in a month. Whew! we first time parents must be doing something right! In addition, she also got 4 shots...2 per leg. Surprisingly, she didn't cry, although she was a bit miffed that someone would dare to hold her down. After another blood draw, we were out of there with a glowing report. Devi is in the 9% for her weight and actually has a little belly now and all the tests show she is in excellent health.

The excitement of the day caught up with her the next day when she woke up not in the best frame of mind. Feeling a little sore in the legs and slightly under the weather from all the poking and prodding, I thought a nice leisurely stroll through the park would be the perfect way to spend our morning.

The ground was full of bright fall colored leaves and as we walked we occasionally would cross paths with others drifting by who had just lost their grip from the branch where they once soaked in the summer sun. Although it was brisk, the sun was out and we were catching a warm ray across our faces here and there as we walked the pebbly path through the Japanese garden in our local park.

We had just crossed the arched little bridge that crosses a trickle of a stream when I noticed a fallen pine cone. I love to stop and let Devi explore new things so I set the brake on the baby jogger and turned to pick up the cone. When I turned back to lay it in her lap, the jogger was in mid air! Evidently, I had parked the jogger with the front tire on a curb that was hidden by the large amount of fallen leaves. The front tire bounced down to solid ground and the rear shock absorbers got just enough lift from the bounce to send the whole contraption, with baby strapped in, head over tea kettle. It landed with a thud on the muddy path with her still in it, face down. I panicked! With super human strength, I righted the cart :) Devi was screaming and covered in mud...the first time I had ever heard that sound from her. Bad mommy, bad mommy!

In my efforts to console Devi, several people jogged and strolled past. Many with dogs in tow. This is when I realized...the DOG! I wheeled around to see poor Cayenne standing beside the dropped cone, leash laying limp on the ground with a scared look on her face, just standing and waiting. GOOD GIRL! (Greyhounds off the leash in an unfenced park with squirrels and other dogs is a big risk for her....after all she is a sight hound and loves to chase what she sees) She got extra pets for being so well behaved. It was truly a recipe for a double disaster.

Surveying the damage, Devi managed to get by with a little road rash on both hands and a big bruise and scrape on one cheek. Bad mommy, bad mommy! Mommy nearly had a heart attack with an adrenalin rush equivalent to about ten cups of coffee. Now we were off to meet daddy for lunch....oh boy! :)

I had to chuckle a bit when we reached daddy at the restaurant. Devi went straight to him and began babbling, nonstop, in a serious tone. She was tattling on mommy! She told him the whole story in the greatest of detail. Traumatic as it was, she is fine and we have our FIRST scratch and dent out of the way.

Monday, October 15, 2007


First pony ride at the pumpkin patch!

With India nearly a month behind us, we are finally owning up to the fact that fall is here. It has been extremely difficult to switch my wardrobe to long sleeves - sometimes even wearing a coat - when my mind is still swirling with memories of fresh lime sodas, palm trees, and 90 degree temperatures with a humidity to match.

With our first post placement visit under our belt, we are finding a pace that seems comfortable for our family and which actually includes trips to the gym using the nursery, eating dinner out at restaurants and not having to bring the Hoover to clean up afterwards and, if you can believe it, a date - complete with babysitter and everything! (the babysitters were my dad and his friend Gail, but it still counts!)

The wonder of discovering the world through a child's eyes is probably the best part of my day. Devi notices everything. I love to watch her process information as it enters those deep brown eyes, after a moment of pause comes the furrowed brow, as she ponders the situation, and finally the breathy smile that now shows all 3 of her teeth, two lower and one upper. When she is really excited we also get the bouncing from her little chubby thighs emphasizing her enthusiasm. All this over her first touch of a corn stalk or finding the tiny speck of lint I happened to miss while vacuuming. :)

Mornings are spent waking up in our big bed, after daddy gets her from her crib. There is something so satisfying about watching the weather across the globe, on the television, with your little one sitting, leaning back on your chest, contently humming and sucking her thumb...always with her cute little ankles crossed the same way everyday...right over left, toes haphazardly wiggling from time to time. We discuss breakfast, scrambled yolks are her current favorite with sliced bananas, of course!

I love to swing and go high!

So goes our days, but we've added words. Devi now says mama, da da, yum yum (over scrambled yolks!) and I think I heard "Hey" the other day. She knows the meaning of several words, like "NO", but also has learned selective hearing :). Devi also loves playing with her Oma at least once a week and daddy all the time, of course.

Picking out my pumpkin at Spooky's pumpkin patch

Our big outing over the past weekend was to Spooky's, our favorite pumpkin patch. We have yet to carve our faceless jack-o-lanterns, their features still melding with the creative juices in our own noggins. Something tells me, as Devi turns 11 months old today, that all 3 pumpkins faces will be smiling ones this year!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Things That Dreams Are Made Of

Meeting family like Great Grandma Verna

Sitting in a box that contained a gift all the way from Tallkeetna Alaska
Thank you Sandy and Butch!

Discovering Music

One of our dreams was realized last night. Although it is probably silly, every time we sat on the couch and watched a rented movie over this past year, we dreamed of the day that this event would mark the winding down of a day. With our baby in her crib having sweet dreams, we would sit in the quiet, enjoying each others company over a glass of wine, and watch a movie....nothing that requires alot of thought, mind you, just some light entertainment before hitting the sack ourselves.

Earth, an Indian film, was the movie of choice. The wine, was suppose to be relaxing, but who really needs help relaxing after chasing a small child all day? In any case, the evening brought heavy eyelids and big smiles to both of us as, together, we realized a dream turned reality.

Monday, October 01, 2007

An A+ Day!

Last Saturday, Devi had her first church experience. Sadly, it was a memorial for a family friend who had passed away while we were traveling. The ironic thing about King, is that he was orphaned at an early age too. His aunt and uncle came to become his new parents when he was just 8 years old. His life story is incredible, but one statement he made in a recent autobiography video hit home with me. He said that once his aunt and uncle came for him, he tried hard to be a good and worthy son to them so that they would not be disappointed. Heavy thoughts for such a young tike, but so important to him.

Later that day, Devi had the pleasure of meeting ALL the relatives on my mother's side of the family and almost all of Pat's immediate family. She did great and was quite the ham. I think she was patted, squeezed, poked and prodded by everyone meeting all of their approvals. Bits of my mother live on in her sister, my Aunt Kathy, and it warms my heart that Devi can get a small glimpse of what her Grandma DeeDee was like through her. The sisters mannerisms are much the same as well as the tone of their voices and facial features.

Today we had our A+ day! We went to see Dr. Ayer, marking our first doctor visit. Devi warmed the hearts of everyone in the office, she is such a flirt. Weighing in at 16 pounds, 10 ounces, she falls on the 15% mark on the American growth chart. She is 27.5 inches tall, which hits the 25% mark in height. We were thrilled that she made it on the chart! I guess we didn't learn anything we didn't all ready know....we have a tall and skinny girl.

Mommy and daddy managed to get a an A+ in the nutrition and caring department too. All and all we did great, but we'll see how we are growing in 3 weeks AND have to do the blood draws and immunization stuff. Dr. Ayer wanted her to sort of like him a little before having to do the hard part.

We celebrated the day by taking Devi to her first 3 dollar steak night. Every Monday, a couple of the area restaurants offer a small steak and fries for 3 bucks. We've been going for years and everyone knows us. Although Devi did not eat steak, she was delighted to sit in a big girl high chair and smiled and stared at everyone. She loves the noisy crowds and ate better out than she does at home!

After one of daddy's wonderful baths, a bed time story where Devi has to give kisses to all the pictures of the babies, and a warm bottle, she is fast asleep in her crib. Another busy day has come to a close.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our Sponge

Devi is making great strides since being home. She loves to go visiting as we are making the rounds to meet family and friends. She is smiley for everyone, but knows who mommy and daddy are and saves the biggest giggles for us. Good girl!

Crawling came almost immediately. Open floor, will travel. She seems to have no fear when pulling herself up on things so I think that walking will be coming soon! Poor Cayenne is constantly on the move to get away from her now!

Sleeping is still an issue, but we are improving all the time. We are slowly moving away from the co-sleeping as she seems to have a more restful sleep when she is alone. Devi does not like it at first, but if I lay her in her crib and stand there until she begins to close her eyes she does fine. Little stinker tests me sometimes. It is as if she is peering through partially closed lids to watch when I will leave the room. As soon as I make my move she opens up her eyes and voices her objection. So far we are having two naps. Then morning is short and the afternoon is long. Devi is sleeping about 11 hours a night, but wakes about 3 times during that time looking for a little consoling.

One of Patrick's dreams was fulfilled this morning. Proud papa had Devi asleep on his chest while he watched a world cup soccer match between the US women and Brazil. The US lost, but I don't think it mattered to Pat. He was happy as a clam to have his girl with him, though asleep, sort of taking in one of his

This week has been full of firsts and so far all of them have gone well. The grocery store today was a huge hit. Devi smiled at everyone and really helped mommy read the difficult labels. She got to hold a loaf a bread too. She is such a big girl.

The jogger was also a winner. Devi enjoyed the brisk fall air and the feel of her first leaf. It is so cute to watch her take in the world. Food experiences seem to be the most entertaining. Tuna is a big NO in her book, but a nice baked yam and she is in fat city! Carrots are also a NO, but she is delighted to have figured out the hand to mouth movement with goldfish crackers, which always bring a squeal of approval.

She is definitely a sponge right now, taking in and processing all new things. We are enjoying her exploration with great enthusiasm too. After a week at home, Devi is still simply a joy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

HOME, I think?!

Last night in Kolkata!

Our little helper

Packing and repacking our goodies from India

After two weeks in India, I think we were ready to come home. But there is so much to still discover about this wonderful country, I'm sure, at some point we will be back. We set out for our return trip on Friday early evening. There was a huge downpour, our first reprieve from the heat since we arrived or maybe Kolkata was crying because we were leaving, I guess we'll never know :)

The first flight from Kolkata to Delhi was a two hour flight of aerobic exercise for all three of us. Devi was
happy, but active. We were over the seat, under the seat, into Pat's lap, back into mine. Then looking at the people across the aisle then behind us then grabbing the beverage cart then undoing my seatbelt. Exhausting in every sense of the word.

Arriving in Delhi for the last time, we were warned that the transfer bus from the domestic to the
international airport only runs once an hour and so we rushed to the sign-up desk trying to reserve a seat. We ended up with a 1 hour delay as the the first bus was full. We hulled up in the corner of the airport watching the mayhem, waiting for our bus, but not without some entertainment. A woman sitting beside us began to scream. Turns out a rat was running around our luggage; not an uncommon site in this airport. Devi loved it.

Fifteen hours of holding us all captive in a small space is not my idea of a good time, but we managed to make it through the flight to Chicago in one piece. Devi slept most of the way of this flight....thank you
God! I had really stressed about the flying with the baby, but it was working out okay. We were unable to get the bassinet with bulkhead seats, but thankfully there was an empty spot next to me which became Devi's make shift crib. Leaving at 12:15 am and traveling over Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and Canada- we never saw the sun- it was night the whole way which made it easier for us to try to catch an hour or 2 of sleep. Once on the ground we headed for the Starbucks counter for a hot sip of home....almost there!

Interesting to note that we had been carrying all these papers along with us to get Devi safely back into the country, but every time we offered up what we had prepared, no one wanted them. I guess it is better to have more than you need, but for crying out loud, we've been toting this notebook around for the past two weeks...some of the papers had even been to the Taj Mahal with us to keep them safe.

Final leg of the journey was finally here. Just 5 more hours until we would be home. Devi slept the first hou
r of the trip and then awoke out of sound sleep and decided she was absolutely positively done. She has not been too much of a crier, but when the girl is done, she means it. She could not be consoled for the next hour so I spent my time at the back of the plane with her bouncing on my hip. We unfortunately learned the bathroom habits of most of the people on the plane. In the end, everyone heard our spread throughout the plane and many of the passengers offered us congratulations as we departed the aircraft. The flight attendants even surprised us with a gift wrapped bottle of champaign to celebrate- very thoughtful.

Immigration was a breeze. After having our passports stamped we headed to a small examination room waiting for the final stamp of approval for Devi. I don't think I will ever forget the words that came from the examiners mouth. "Welcome home to the USA, Bhargabi!"

We were met by Pat's parents at the security gate. All of us beaming at our good job well accomplished. Devi even gave her Oma a smile right off. On to the baggage claim where we were met by my family; my teary eyed dad holding up a "Welcome Devi, Princess of India" sign, his friend Gail, my sister Joan, brother David and sister in-law Obra were all sporting cameras to commemorate the occasion. Our friends Ben and Denise, balloons in hand, also just couldn't wait. It was a wonderful reception after being out of touch from loved ones for so long.

Nearing the driveway, even in our blurry eyed state, we could make out a pink glow coming from our
address. As we drew nearer still, it became obvious that our house and yard had been filled with pink helium balloons that were dancing a welcome home jig in the breeze. It was a wonderful home coming. The front door was filled with signs wishing us congratulations and welcome homes. Thank you neighbors, co-workers and friends for making that experience a Moment for us to share with Devi... somehow she managed to miss it. A story that is told and retold many times over, I'm sure.

Exhausted and completely out of touch with time and feels good to be home.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Icing on the cake!

Another evening of acrobatics with Devi in the middle...not as active as the night before. She seems to really feel most comfortable sleeping on our chests. It is something to feel the heart of this tiny child beat so very close to yours. She is simply a joy.

We seem to have found our routine; up for breakfast, and out for shopping! Today we headed to the New Market which seems to be about the middle of town. Meat, belts, spices, sarees, and auto parts, you can find it here in abundance. Another gauntlet to walk, there are store fronts on one side and vendors on the other. Salesmen working on commission try to lure you into the stores that they have a prearranged deal
with for a little pay-o-lah. Then there are the beggars coupled with the fact that we seem to draw a crowd anyway. I'm sure we looked like the pied piper as we made our way from store front to store front. It is always so interesting to take one of these shopping trips on foot. People watching is insurmountable.

Air conditioning is something I thought I would never wish for, but the heat here is really something else. Even the babies are drenched with perspiration the second we step outside. AC is what lead us to Ontrack, our lunch destination. As it happened we were able to sit in a railway car from the Orient Express. It was really cool.

Back to the hotel, it was time for a little siesta. Devi is very good about taking naps although she continues to wake her self up to check and recheck that we are still here for her. She looks to me for comfort and to Patrick to be silly. Each day a bit more of her personality comes through, today she is a bit more fussy than I know what that would be from one day of being with her :). I'm sure it is partly the heat that
we walked around in and also I think she is aware that she is not going back to the place where she spent her first 10 months. Her cry has a mournful tone to it and she raises her arms up to me to pick her up, but that is a great sign! We now know she loves formula, banana and rice and she HATES dal (lentils), guava juice and noodles. She loves to giggle at Roger and the boys and loves the wind to blow her in the face when riding a taxi.

Picnicing in 525 was the choice for dinner tonight. Room service was ordered and the Welser's came into out room with extra chairs. We were all exhausted from the heat and the girls were just plain done for the day. Enjoying one last conversation with the Welser's we chatted about how we would continue to see each other in the years to come. Departing in the early morning, we said our goodbyes and hugs all the way around. Patrick and I don't leave until the early evening.

The kids: Andrew, Devi, Evan, and Jenya
We are so fortunate to have met this family. Their ideas about things, likes and dislikes, are very similar to ours. Experiencing this trip together has made it a much more rewarding quest. Because of them, we took more risks on this trip. We tried more things and went to more places than we could have probably handled on our own. We now ask what our best and worst thing of the day was, know about whoopahs, and have seen India through the eyes of other adults, an inquisitive nine year old and imaginative five year old boys. It is hard to believe that a family from the west coast and a family from the east coast had to go half way arouncd the world to meet and become fast friends. We owe it all to our two beautiful girls born in Kolkata.

This will be the last post until arriving home I think. We will have a small outing tomorrow and then we head to the airport to begin the final journey home. Wish us luck, we are going to need it. If all goes well, we will be arriving at SeaTac on American Airlines on Saturday at 10am. Departing as two and arriving home as three. This trip all ready feels dream like. It is hard to fathom how much we were able to do while here. IT has been so far beyond great. Adding Devi, our princess, our daughter, our little Indian souvenir, to our family was amazing. Everything else is just icing on the cake!

Our First Full Day!

Our sweet Devi Rose is such a joy!

Kolkata, as seen from our room

Here they where helmets on more than just the driver.

First off, I have to say thank you to everyone who has left comments on the blog. Words from home are wonderful to receive and are a source of comfort as we bumble along as first time parents. Half way around the world, it is nice to be connected with this little bit of home.

Gymnast or wiggle worm, Devi is very active in her sleep! We had her between us trying to provide comfort to her in the event that she should awaken in the night. She was perfectly still until about 1am then she began searching for the boundries of her crib that are no longer there. This continued until about 4 am when she finally settled down. It is odd because she is totally asleep but in constant motion, moving from back to front to side and back again. It reminds me of one of the those dime store balls that rolls into a wall and then bounces off in another direction. Fortunately, when she awoke at about 7:30 she seemed rested and was all smiles.

We joined the Welser's for breakfast in the hotel asking for a table for eight instead of six! Everyone is doing great. Jenya is adorable and can steal your heart with her krinkled up nose face. She is feisty...a necessity to keep up with the boys....a perfect fit. I love that at 10 months she is already a woman with an opinion.

We decided to go out for a bit of shopping and the girls took to it as if they had been out in public their whole lives. We are a spectacle for sure. A gaggle of American tourists, one snapping photos, most clad in floppy hats, one with dreadlocks, one carrot topped boy and two Indian babies in tow. We are stopped frequently to answer questions about who, why, how etc etc. We've also had to get used to the very small amount of personal space people here require as well as how they squeeze the cheeks of the children as we walk by. People have no problem stopping a mere foot away and just staring at us everywhere we go...into our taxi, shopping, restaurants and hotel.

The heat and humidity here are intense. I love it, but even I need a rest from it on occasion. We try to have lunch at places that have air conditioning and Naan bread, of course. So after a spot of lunch we walked the streets back to the hotel.

Kolkata is far different from the other cities we've traveled through this far. It is a crowded city, for sure, but it seems fewer people speak English here. A mish-mash of shops from tourist stops to upscale bags and shoes all within the same block the people watching possibilities are endless. The sidewalks are lined with food vendors and people selling just about any little trinket imaginable. As you take in a city block on foot, the smells are hard to resist in spite of the conditions in which they are preparing the food. At a typical stall one might see a few sweaty men cooking over an open flame and several customers in business attire as well as blue collar workers scooping the days fare from their tin plates with the first three fingers of their right hands into their mouths as they clutter the sidewalk with their presence. Amongst the heat from the preparation and scooping and chewing you hear men discussing what I assume are politics or work matters in Bengali. When a meal is complete the tins are hand washed in buckets at the shoulder of the road by crouching boys and the waste water is tossed into the streets evaporating in the heat as it hits the pavement. This goes on for blocks and blocks and after awhile you get the feeling that you are experiencing the true essence of what the city of Kolkata is like.

Nap time arrived and we headed back to the hotel for a siesta. Devi is still a bit unsure and wakes herself up often to check and recheck that we are still here. She seems to really like her momma and her daddy has a way about him too. We are convinced that she is a keeper....I think she is maybe still sizing us up!

ISRC and Dillon did us a huge favor by processing our paperwork for Devi's visa for us while we were traveling because the person at the US consulate was not available the dates that we had scheduled. We and the Welser's felt we needed to thank them for taking on this task, so while at the babies home, we got a list of prescription medicine and basic supplies to donate to the babies while we are here. With this is mind off all eight of us went in search of a chemist with list and donation money in hand. Destination PG hospital with a chemist store close by was the direction we were given and we're off.

An Indian hospital is much different than anything medical related that we know of in the states. There were people laying everywhere...benches, sidewalks and under bushes, I think waiting to be seen by someone. If I didn't know it was a hospital, I don't know that I could have figured it out.

Off we trotted in search of the chemist store. After asking directions a couple of times and wandering off aimlessly we finally came upon the Franklin Ross Chemist. The building was two steps down from the sidewalk into an open area office about ten by ten square. Karen and I approached the counter with our request for supplies. After trying to convey our message to two or three of the employees, the pharmacist finally came out to help us. By now, a crowd had ensued and the squishing of baby cheeks and questions about why we have Indian babies started to flow. Curiosity knows no limits. Our order was unusual in size and in quantity of items, plus trying to arrange for delivery, pay now and get a receipt...the whole transaction was difficult to explain and even more complicated with the language difference. Providing a donation like this to the babies we just met the day before was so gratifying. As we left the store, Karen turned to me and said "This is a moment". It really was one of those moments that makes you feel good inside and holds a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Hailing a taxi we were off for a bite of dinner at the Kwality restaurant and then home for a warm bath, warm bottle and nightie night. No sooner had we shut out the lights when we started to hear a tremendous commotion outside. The street has been exceptionally loud due to the upcoming Durga Puja festival. We have been seeing statues of Durga being transported all over town, bringing cheers as the statue drive past. This was a sudden extreme rise in the noise level. Something immediate. Then we heard yelling in the hall way of the hotel outside our door. We were afraid to open the door because it sounded like a fight between many people. At one point, I thought that they were in the Welser's room. Just as quickly as it started, the noises died down and all was quiet again. Hmm, turns out it was cricket. India beat England by 10. Apparently, there are sports fans staying at the hotel....we were hearing drunken sports fans. Who knew :)

Yeah India!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Forever Family Day

It is 9:30 pm in Kolkata, Devi is asleep and we are on top of the moon! This day has flown by and each and every second I wish could be captured, never to be forgotten.

After signing our papers with Ms. Roy, we met our Devi. She is more beautiful than we imagined; perfect in every way. Her little personality seems calm, inquisitive and, thoughtful. She was quick to laugh today. We hope this is not the calm before the storm but welcome whatever comes.

The ayahs do not understand much English but we managed to get out of them that Devi and Jenya are naughty together. Sounds like typical girls :) They apparently did share a crib and sometimes also with Rup, Rashi and Diganta. All the children looked happy and well cared for. The ayahs are dear, somewhat shy, and you could see that it was hard for them to say goodbye. Shopna, one ayah was quite fond of Devi and could easily get her to giggle, something we are still working on.

After touring this facility, we also went to the special needs facility nearby. There we met all the children less fortunate. The facility is clean and nice, and the children there are receiving good care. The caregivers there were so friendly and have big hearts doing the work that they do. If we could only bring them all home. In spite of their needs, they all were happy to have visitors and many are making great strides.

Arriving home with Devi asleep, the hotel staff, knowing the reason for our stay, greeted us warmly.
Praising us for our life choice and swooning over the children. They have been non-stop arriving at our door with cookies, fruit, and towels even though we have not requested the service. I wonder if they just would like a glimpse of these beautiful girls. (In case I have not mentioned it, the Welser's are next door with an adjoining door.) The staff are slow to leave and enjoy smiling at the children.

Let the wailing begin! Okay, so there were a few tense moments when we arrived home and Devi discovered her voice. She was not pleased with the cereal the babies home sent with us, but eventually came around and enjoyed a biscuit or two and a warm bottle. Soon after, the over stimulated tiny tike fell asleep for a good couple of hours. It is hard not to stand and stare at this miracle of life. She is precious.

Awaking to a new environment, you could see she was looking for comfort and found it in mommy and daddy's arms. A very good sign. She is making good eye contact with us and is quite the cuddler. We played together on the bed for a while and she enjoyed hitting daddy's belly! She also seems to enjoy raspberries
on her feet and is quite ticklish.
We chose to wake her around 6:30pm and join the Welser's for our first dinner out. It went great. Devi was content to watch the other patrons and searched out the source of anything making a baby noise. Bar-B-Q's (Indian and Chinese food) staff was great to serve us quickly and also took a genuine interest in us and our day. The food was fantastic, recommended by Kristi another adoptive mom. Devi ate a few clumps of least I think some went in :)

Taxi service in the big city is nothing like that of the other places we have been so far. It seems more like
New York than India. Patience is a virtue here sometimes. Our driver was disappointed with his fare, but after being in India over a week, we are feeling not so much like the newbie tourist anymore and have a better sense for what something should cost.Now back in room 525, our home for this week, we decided to try our first bath. Pat donned his bathing suit and in she went with him. Hesitant, having never been emersed, she did great. It was our first time taking in her slightly pudgy naked body. Ever so cute, she has all the proper equipment; ten fingers, ten toes and even an innie belly button!
Swathed in scabie cream (just in case) we snuggled her up in her new jammies and she soon fell asleep. According to her schedule, which I doubt means much, she does not usually fall asleep until midnight. (At the babies home, they just dim the lights and the children fall asleep where they are) As first time parents, we have no idea how long this SLEEP will last but for now I hope she is dreaming pleasant dreams; we sure will be.

Isn't she lovely?
Truly the angel's best.
Boy, I'm so happy,
We have been heaven blessed.
I can't believe what God has done.
(For) us He's given life to one.
Isn't she lovely, made from love.

-Stevie Wonder


I read yesterday on the plane from a famous Indian man whose name I can't recall- He said "Butterflies don't live month to month but rather from moment to moment"
Today was definitely a moment- both Pat and I were a different kind of excited the closer we moved towards 10:30- the scheduled time the hotel arranged car would take us and the Welser's to the ISRC- The Indian Society for Rehabilitation of Children. We all trooped out with bags in hand of donations for the babies- we used every inch of the SUV, but managed to get it all in. The drive over from the hotel took us through centuries old streets lined with people cooking breakfast, or scurrying off to work, some bathing at communal water pumps. It took only 15 minutes but seemed so long- the anticipation of finally meeting our Devi made the car ride extremely long. People were waiting for us as we pulled up to a building with the first floor covered in black metal bars lest the area for the front door. The second story had 6 clothes lines draped across the width of the building full of baby clothes drying in the hot morning sun. The group was escorted upstairs where Ms. Anju Roy greeted us all. The first room was small, it was very hot but ceiling fans tried their best to keep us cool. The Welser's went in first to Anju's office, signed some paperwork, were given instructions on the passport, how immigration was going to need paperwork as we transitioned from Delhi bound for the US. In the meantime, Pat noticed movement through a door covered in heavy lace- both Devi and Jenya were sharing a crib a mere 10 feet away. The Ayah's- caregivers were busy changing clothes, combing hair and getting all the babies ready us to come in to the room. The moment had arrived for both families to meet their babies, the door opened up and both girls were standing holding the railing on the crib, a look of wonder on both faces as we all walked in to say our first hello's.

More is a butterfly moment kinda day :)

Devi Day!

Today we go to the orphange to meet our sweet Devi Rose. I thought I would be more nervous. Maybe that will come as I become more awake.

In the early hours of the morning while it was still dark, Patrick squeezed my hand in bed and whispered, “Today’s the day!” We’ve waited so long for this day and it is finally here.

Up until this part of the trip, I haven’t been really looking at her picture too much, trying to enjoy the site seeing we chose to do first. We’ve told anyone who will listen about why we are here and have received mostly positive results. Even the security guard at the airport in Delhi opened my wallet and saw Devi’s picture inside and asked if she was my daughter. I explained, “yes, my daughter”, and she smiled and said, “Good.”Now, all I see in my head is her image as I remember it from her last picture. I hope that we recognize her. I also hope that this meeting is not too tramatic for her. We have been preparing for years for her and have loved her for along time all ready. She is going away with us today, having never seen us before. I’m sure it will be confusing and frightening.

Kolkata at Last!

Yerterday we left Delhi for our destination city Kolkata. It was a two hour plane ride that touched us down about a half hour outside of the city. We arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport to take us to the Hindustan hotel. Construction is going on everywhere here. The driver informed us that they are building apartments, a clear indication that this city is booming. The traffic was gridlocked once we hit the city. When I asked the driver he said it was because it was Monday, the first day of the business week.

Kolkata is much different then the the other cities we have visited. It is much hotter and more humid, which is hard to believe is possible. The countryside seems much more lush to me, almost jungle like. Palm trees are everywhere, unlike the the occasional up cropping we noticed on the west side of the country.

Having been spoiled by the Alsisar Haveli in Jaipur, we realize we are once again in a big city at the Hindustan. Our room faces what we think is a convent and the street below never sleeps. I think it is the major road through the heart of the city and it is a continual symphony of horns, yells, beeps, and engine noise. Just a hotel, not the charm of a heritage property. It is hard to imagine that tomorrow there will be a small child playing in this very room.

Karen and I circled the phone as she called the orphanage to set a time to meet our girls. Tuesday at 11:00 am! It was confirmed that our paperwork was sent ahead from the adoption agency to the US consulate because the person we were to see there was going to be away. This means that after we tour the orphanage and get Devi today we are done with the legal process here in India. All the mounds of paperwork come down to one piece of paper that gives permission from our agency to take custody of her. When Karen hung up, I can honestly say my legs were shaking.

At long last, we can finally transfer the donations for the ayahs and babies out of the suitcase for travel to ISRC. They have had a long journey form our home to the Nikko where they remained locked up with the bell man while we did the rest of our traveling. We reclaimed them there and they made the trek with us to the Kolkata. The logistics of the packing and shifting of suitcases is finally coming to an end, I think.

After settling in, we and the Welser’s decided we needed a spot of lunch and decided to venture out on foot to find it. After receiving directions twice we finally happened upon a sign for Cal’s terrace view cafe. Following our noses, we eneded up an elevator and a flight of stairs, all the while thinking that the building was abandoned. Not so, at the top was a little cafe loaded with local teenagers celebrating a couple of birthdays. We were surprised to hear them singing Happy Birthday in english so we joined in.

The food is inexpensive so we tried a sampling of food items. Very interesting things arrived at the table, my favorite was a stuffed dosa - like a crepe with different fillings that you tear off in strips and dip in a coule of yummy sauces. We also had a paneer and garlic pizza that was equally as delicious and slightly sweet. Everything here has a bit of a kick to it...not just hot....but flavorful spicey.

Airborne has failed Patrick on this trip and he has managed to catch a cold so we decided to take it easy and stay in the hotel for the night. We watched a little television and fell asleep early. Surprisingly, even with the street noise we slept soundly. The first full nights sleep of the whole trip thus far.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Jaipur

Today is our last day in Jaipur. Really, all we want to do is ride around where ever Raees wants to take us. The rides are still so fun. We are feeling, however, that the focus of our trip is starting to shift. Now, we find ourselves wondering about our Devi and what she must be doing at various times of the day. We have been quick to tell people why we are here and have gotten positive responses.

Our final few hours were, of course :). In our travels, it has become a game to announce the animal we may be passing which is great fun. A typical richshaw ride could very easily sound like this.."Moo, cow, goat! pause...camel, another camel, Moo cow." Today we even came across a snake charmer.
Our final destination in Jaipur was to Krispal Singh's house. He is a famous potter specializing in the blue pottery of Jaipur. He is in his 80's and still throws clay on a wheel. Fascinating man, he has lived all over the world and was a true delight to meet.Kingfisher air flew us from Jaipur back to Delhi. It was a 25 minutes flight and in that time the flight attendants managed to pass out headphones for us to watch half a program, we had juice, then they came around with a snack lunch and finally water. We were cracking up! Barely enough time to choke down all that stuff and they had to take it away because we were there. I don't think I even had a chance to change my seat from straight to reclining before we were there!

Tomorrow we are on to Kolkatta, where our Devi awaits us! The thrilling part of our journey is just about to begin!

Hawa Mahal

We enjoyed our day so much with the Welser's we tagged along for another adventure to the Hawa Mahal today. This five story structure was constructed so the women could watch the comings and goings of the city street without being seen themselves. Tiny shuttered peep holes line the structure which in elaborately decorated on the front and plain on the inside. We climbed all through it imagining what it must have been like to live during those times.

Raees continues to be our driver. He speaks good English and is a safe and good driver...if there is such a thing in a place where there are no rules of the road. The rides through the city continue to be one of our favorite things even though it feels like we seem to be taking our lives into our own hands.
Raees with his son, mother, shop worker and Welser boys

Shopping was the afternoon activity and Raees knew right where to take us. We are certain he is earning a commission by taking us to some of these places, but the guide books indicate that this is a common practice. What stood out for me was the bangle shop that happened to be right next door to Raees' house. Hmmm...It was great fun to have this darling young girl try bracelets on Karen and I. I'm certain she thought that we were crazy Americans, but all in fun. Meanwhile, the boys (the two adult ones and the two younger ones) of our group, were sitting street side attracting quite a mob of people. The little children especially want us to take their picture and if nothing else enjoy staring at us.

Chatting with the local children

These interactions with the people have been the highlights of the trip for me. I love trying to talk with them and hear about their lives. As we concluded our business at the bangle shop, we got to meet Raees' mother and his son. An interesting side note about his Australian couple is paying for him to attend American school in the afternoons because Raees can not afford these luxuries. It is 3000RS every 3 months for him to attend this school and he is very proud of him.

Dropping off the men poolside, left Karen and I free for a couple more hours of shopping. Raees took us around a bit more. I think we've traveled every street in the city at least twice and still nothing looks familiar. On this night, a Hindu festival was beginning and we got caught in a huge traffic jam. There were costumed people and and beautiful sari's everywhere not to mention music and wonderful smelling foods wafting form the vendors.

Reaching the Alsisar Haveli marked another successful day. I am loving Jaipur. It is dirty, busy, chaotic and unpredictable and fabulous. This kind of place heightens your senses and it is wonderful.