Thursday, July 31, 2008

What We Have Been Up To...

I've gotten enough guff from my husband about "30 Blogs in 30 Days" to sense that I've missed the mark... Did you know that there are at least 30 Days in most months? Oh. Except that the kids and I leave for the U.S. in 18 days, for 6 weeks and we'll be far too busy sipping really large, extra shot, a-little-on-the-wet-side-Cappucinos, sampling multiple vats of Pumphouse Creamery Ice Cream and eating real, honest, beef to come up for air and post a daily blog.

*Sigh* Which essentially puts us into October...where I am sure to have forgotten any blogging promises made.

Here's an update:

*We still live here.

*We're still going to be living here, for a while.

*Today, we innoculated petri dishes of agar and chicken bouillon with spit samples. Because homeschooling inspires us to really gross our selves out!

*The Monsoon has arrived...and I keep forgetting my umbrella...and Owen loves being caught in the rain so much that he manages to convince me that the dark clouds overhead won't produce rain and we get really, really wet that the security guards at the Maintenance Office near our villa, laugh. Heartily. Mostly at my expense.

*Grayce remains..."the toothless wonder"

*Mama cat, shamelessly pregnant again...before I'd managed to get her to a vet. Since 2 of her kittens are still hanging around, she's taken leave for greener pastures.

*Grayce spends as much time as possible outside, carting around Ellen's "mini-me"...our new "cat that isn't our cat"...Her name is Ellie...her brother is Tiger...and they still aren't our cats!

*There seems to be a major cat problem in Palm Meadows. So much so, that we can't leave our long windows open because any variety of cats' push the velcro screens in.

*No sign of the Big Ugly Stinky Rat...but occasional cat-related rat entrails on the front porch remind us of what we are missing.

*My husband is so super-cool that he bought me a set of gorgeous gold bangles...on a Wednesday...when it wasn't my birthday...or my anything. Just because. Yay!

*Did I mention, we're coming home in 18 days for a visit? I have a childbirth educator conference in August and my sister is getting married in September...and the kids and I haven't been home for 11 months and yes, I am really looking forward to doing things, like Driving My Own Car! Drinking from the hose without getting Dysentary! Using Public Restrooms! Opening a Bottle of Beer that Doesn't Spell "Kingfisher"! Oh yeah...seeing family and friends and eating ALOT are also at the top of my list ;-) I came home from yoga the other morning and the kids had laid all their clothes out on their beds..."get the suitcases, mama, we're all packed!"

*Saree shopping...I'm "officiating" at my sister, Alicia's wedding in California. Please pray that I am able to wrap myself accurately, that my Saree Pins do not fail, and that I do not forget what I am about to say because my slip is showing! I ended up going Saree shopping with my driver, Raju...not really planned, but he was so incredibly offended for me that their wasn't a "lady tailor" to measure my blouse. It's a really beautiful Saree, though!

Overall, We are healthy and well and enjoying life here but really looking forward to our trip home!

See you Soon...

The Fischers

in India

Friday, July 11, 2008

You May Be Dead...

But Thank God it's not Fatal!

One might make the assumption from reading this sign that there have been no accidents whatsoever, in Bangalore in the past three years! One might also be led to believe that there are *Traffic Rules*... and that perhaps one's career potential might be fulfilled if one were to do the needful and FOLLOW THE DAMN RULES. Not only can you evade death, nonfatal or otherwise, but you can expect to climb the corporate ladder at high speed...

Convenient. Now, If only we knew what the rules might be...

Rules which can encompass the bus trying to run me off the road; the motorbike, weaving into and out of the smallest centimeter of space; the hugely colorful truck bearing down the wrong side of the road with apparent homicidal intent; the chai and chaat wallahs pushing their wheeled carts sloooowwwly yet industriously along; the bicycle bucket man, buckets stacked 8 feet wide; the traffic "cop" with his 10 gallon hat, wearing the dust and smog-avoiding surgeon's mask and collecting "tips" on the corner; the blessed cow lounging peacefully in the center of insanity; the small herd of goats, hungry pack of feral dogs, and ambitiously hopeful rooster hopping frantically from garbage pile to sewage sludge; the racketeered-child beggar performing tricks in the middle of traffic, the rickshaw man, who might-stop-if-he-hit-you, as long as you agree to visit his friend's, uncle's, sister's, cousin's shop which is going out of business and has everything marked down 100% just for YOU; over 8 million pedestrian out perambulating all at once (footpaths? Are you kidding? Let me know when you find one that's less dangerous than the road!) and me, being competitively driven about in my shiny Innova, leaning out of my car window, misguidedly attempting to photograph the "real" India!

The Fischers
confounded by signage...
in India

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grayce's Seventh Time 'Round the Sun!

Apologies for the lack of Tiny Baby Pictures...Our digital camera didn't come on the scene till Grayce was a toddler.

Grayce, around age 1...Bath Time.

As a toddler, in San Diego!
"Sledding" with her Kindred Spirit, Maggie...age 18 months

Age 2, in Duluth

Toddler Chalk Time!

Sunny and Happy Girl!

The Toddler Twosome...Grayce and best pal, Maggie, age 2

Too Cool, 2 year old.

Just "2"...Up North with Mom and Dad...

Valentine Girl!

Nukkers, Lovey and a whole lot of PINK!!

"2 years, 5 with Mama in her "New York" poncho...Stylish!

2 years, 9 months... A Big Sister!

"3" years old...Flower Girl at my brother, Alik's, wedding...

Our "4" year old dancer...Look at those fab pigtails!

Thoughtful Five...

"5" years...visiting the Duluth Zoo at Grandma and Papa's.

Turning "6"...Tea Party at Linden Hills Park and a farewell to friends as we packed for India.

ANNOUNCING "7"!!! July 5th, 2008. Daddy brought her flowers...

Our beautiful daughter is "7" age that seems...BIG, somehow. So much has changed in our lives this past year that it rather shocked me to realize how much our girl has grown. She's taken to reading chapter books to herself before bed (I always read to the kids at bedtime...but as she says, "Mama, I just love books so much! I neeeeeed to read!") Since she's had to pull my attention out of a book on numerous occasions...well, you could say she's a girl after my own heart!

The Great Birthday Present Hunt (newly introduced this year by Owen P. Fischer, Age 4...born too close to Easter, it seems!)

Birthday morning presents were followed by a manicure and pedicure at the Cocoon Day Spa with Mama...Her toes are Turquoise, and she nearly kicked the pedicurist in the head, her feet were so ticklish! Shopping at Fab India for the auspicious, "new dress"...topped off the morning.

"7th" Birthday Lunch at Sunny's Restaurant in Bangalore... Grayce's favorite. She always orders the "Chicken with Saffron and Leek Sauce"... After lunch and cake we headed back home for some quiet time and then had Family Movie Night...watching "Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone" and eating homemade pizza and ice cream. "A Wonderful and The Most Special Birthday Ever," quoth the birthday girl!

Sunday, July 6th...Waiting for Friends to arrive for the Birthday Tea!

"7th" Birthday Rickshaw Ride! Courtesy of her best Bangalore Buddy, Lucia's Dad, Dave...

Fellow expat friends and Birthday guests...waiting for the Rickshaw!

All the girls...having lunch and too much fun!

Birthday Tea Arts and Crafts...

"Happy Birthday, dear Graycie....and Pink cupcakes for all!

Speaking of hearts...Grayce has a tender one. She is kind and loving and compassionate. A perfectionist. She is funny and has an imaginative flair for the dramatic. She can be shy and hates to be "put on the spot." She is, as she has been since birth, cautious and occasionally anxious. Crowds and loud noises are not her thing. She loves art and wants to "be an art teacher...a small class in our house." Grayce is a fabulous story teller! She is a wonderful big sister and friend to her brother. She can not yet imagine a world in which she would want to ever be apart from us...
We love you, dear one :-) Happiest of all Birthdays and Blessings for your new journey towards eight!
The Fischers
Humming Along Happily,
In Bangalore!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Finding Our Homeschooling Rhythm...

We've only been homeschooling for one month but throughout the journey toward the First Missed-First Day-of-School-and-Run-To-The-Bus-Stop, I became certain that we would identify our "style" of homeschooling as "Holistic Eclectic"... What does that mean??

My friend (and the person who coined the term,) LakeSuperiorMom says ..."to me holistic eclectic homeschool is combining those philosophies that treat the child as a whole being rather than an empty carton to be filled. waldorf, montessori, piaget, and others are included here. unschooling philosophies fall in this category as well. anything that treats the child as a whole person and meets that childs needs through his head, heart and hands and uses artistic or aesthetic qualities to teach these lessons. combining the elements from these fabulous philosophies to create an individualized learning experience that meets our child's individual learning style and creates a wonderful learning experience falls in here! using multi-cultural stories and hands on activities as well as natural materials alongside mainstream is part of holistic eclectic homeschooling."

Grayce attended Augsburg Park Montessori School ( for three years, when we lived in Minneapolis and we are *big* fans of APMS and Montessori education. Still, I didn't want to be spending all my time making Montessori materials and when I started researching homeschooling styles and curriculum choices I found that I was drawn to a wide variety of secular philosophies, resources and curriculums. Pieces of each resonated with my desire to provide my children with a unique, literature, nature and arts-based school experience. I wanted it to be multicultural. I wanted it to by rhythmical. I wanted to draw our everyday experiences here in India into our "classroom" and draw our classroom out into our everyday lives. I wanted it to be respectful of my children's differing needs, of their humanity, and their wholehearted joy. I wanted it to be child-centered and child-led. And spiritually oriented without being Religious. I wanted it to be flexible, to foster cooperation and peaceful living and thoughtfulness and creativity. I wanted to read really great stories! I wanted to do a lot of art! To go to the park if we felt like it! To drink coffee in my pajamas while the kids played every morning! But, I also didn't want to feel constrained by dogma. Cuz' dogma tends to suck the living, breathing, metamorphical life out of pretty much anything. Cuz' dogma gives me hives...

Understand that these are my High Ideals and Tall Orders. In actuality, we are having a great time just getting to know one another in a different way. We don't sit around congratulating ourselves for our choices. Some days I lament them. Some days I dream that the bus pulls up right to our front door! And whisks the children far, far away while I have lunch and a pedicure or at least a moment in the bathroom, alone. Perfect days which embody ALL of the above have happened only...never. But there isn't a single day where my child cries and tells me she hates school and doesn't know anything. Nobody is spanking my preschooler for hiding under a table. We all make our share of mistakes, we all have moments of frustration that accompany the great parts...but the kids are learning and having fun and so am I. We're committed to these moments, this space in outside the home may be in their future....or maybe not.

The other day, I called them in from a "play break" and I heard a chorus of "Awww, Mom...we're playin' ancient history!" I looked outside to see Owen trying to make a fire with two rocks...he'd painted red mud on his face and arms. Grayce had pieces of palm leaves all over her hair and body, "This is the ancient culture of's older than Mesopotamia and used to be where Minnesota is today." Owen mutters..."I gotta get this fire started so we can cook our panther," looks up at me and notes, "don't worry mama, I won't start a real fire without a grown up" and goes back to his work.

I got myself a second cup of coffee, put my feet up and smiled. Guess they're learning something.

The Fischers
Playing and Schooling, in India