Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of High School

Can you imagine? Ziyi was nervous AND Jason and I were nervous! In China, she gets to school at 7:30 am, goes home for lunch and then comes back to school until 10 pm. The 50 kids in her class stay in the same room and same seat all day long. Switching classes in a school with 2,000 kids is like finding your way out of an Amazon rainforest. She also has to contend with a locker and lock for the first time in her life and those things never work when your nervous. They break classes into A and B days so she has four classes a day. Today will be German, Algebra, Astronomy and Anatomy.
The excitement continued after school. She didn't know how to get home from the school bus so I told her I would meet her there. The website said it arrived at 4:45, but at 4:30 I saw it cruising down the street! The stop is WAY down from our house so I ran pell-mell to catch it. It had already dropped off about 8 kids when I got there. None of them were Ziyi. Chaos ensued, but I eventually got a call that Ziyi didn't even make it on the bus -- whoops! I jumped in the car and found her with her new friend who immigrated from China three years ago. She was out there introducing Ziyi to the other Chinese people she knew who walked by. She already got this girl's info and was invited to the Chinese club that meets tomorrow! I guess it would be good to find friends outside this safe group, but I'm just happy she made a connection with somebody on her first day of school.
As for the classes, they stunk. Algebra was too easy, astronomy was just awful and the worst of all was Anatomy. She said she felt like an alien and just sat there not understanding anything the teacher said for an hour and a half. She is not on the science and maths track in high school so it is ridiculous for her to take those classes this year. I wish I would have stood up for her more, but as far as I could tell the counselor who was setting up her classes assumed all Chinese exchange students were interested in those two subjects. Tomorrow is the last day to change classes so we will be there bright and early to make some changes!

Ziyi (zoo-yee) is here!

From Monday to Thursday I ran around like a mad woman trying to get ready for Ziyi! I had to unpack and clean up from India, finish unpacking Jonathan from camp and get Lindsay moved out of her room and into what is now called The Girl's Room. It was chaotic!

We grabbed Jason from work and we got to the Austin airport with plenty of time to spare before her flight arrived.

Here she comes!

She got right down with Lyvia to check out the sign she holding. People who instinctively get down on a child's level just warm my heart. I took it as a good sign!
I was hoping she would be a calming influence on the family -- ha! The kids went BONKERS trying to show off. Lindsay could not control her talking and was just carrying on and on about pretty much anything that entered her mind and didn't really even take a breath and just keep going and going even though I pleaded that she please please stop. Really. Stop.

We got home and showed her around the house. She gasped and said how beautiful her room was when we opened the door. I'm so glad she liked it! For dinner, I had taco soup. The pressure of feeding a child whose home food is drastically different than anything in America that I am capable of preparing is a bit numbing. I know she just has to go with the flow, but who likes to feed people something they will hate? Right away she jumped in and helped get the bowls of food ready. It was obvious someones parents had given them an earful about helping out around the house.
After dinner Dylan desperately wanted Ziyi to watch him jump on the trampoline. As she headed out the back door, she said for me to call her if I needed help cleaning up. I'm in love. Dylan continued to accost her with requests to watch him blow bubbles about 1,000 times and she kindly obliged. When it was time for her to unpack, the kids lined up chairs in her doorway and watched. What a hoot. She is taking it all in stride so maybe we won't scare her off too quickly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of School

Jon was ready about 2 hours before school started, but I could barely get him to slow down for a picture on his way out to catch the bus. This is his last year of elementary school! Boo Hoo! Already they are out in portables so I'll never see him when I am up there working. What a reminder to enjoy each day since this picture of him on his first day of Kindergarten seems like yesterday.

Lindsay and Dylan get ready much slower and later so we get to enjoy them in the morning and the sun is actually up by they time they head to school!

This is Mr. Dylan's FIRST day of Kindergarten. While I am ready for Dylan to face the challenges of Kindergarten, he seems entirely too young to send off into the elementary world! Did I really send two other kids off at this age?
At least Kindergarten is that fabulous year when you can volunteer just about every week and spend time with some incredibly cute kids. I feel fortunate that I get to do it two more times!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 1 early am -- Delhi

We arrived in Delhi at 3:30 am. I was a bit worried about the airport "experience" since Indira Gandhi International Airport was once considered one of the worst on the planet. It turns out that they now hire companies to run the airports and they do it quite well. We easily found our driver and he got us to our bed & breakfast quickly. On the way, we saw autorickshaws and people sleeping in strange places (like the median.)

Our bed and breakfast was located in Defense Colony, a "coveted" living area in Delhi. I'd been told the area was quite exclusive. Let's just say a paradigm shift took place during our first drive through. I forget Americans see the world through sterilized suburban glasses. We arrived at our "home", walked past the man sleeping on a cot outside and collapsed in our room until about 7 am. The string of men I saw sleeping outside in chairs and on cots lingered in my mind.

For good or bad, the neighborhood pictures don't truly capture the area. I think it is more important that the first shock I feel quickly wears off and my skin is comfortable in a less then sterile suburban surrounding.

Monday, August 10, 2009

India Bound

We picked Jonathan up at camp Saturday morning, listened to his wonderful tales on the drive home and then started washing and repacking for India! I'd really put off packing. Eventually I just run out of time and am forced to toss some items together and hope for the best.

Lucy got the little kids on Saturday and they happily left as they blew kisses all the way down our street. I think she was correct when she said it was easier to leave somebody than to be left. We headed to the airport on Sunday a little late and noticed when we came out of our frantic Barnes and Noble stop that we had a deflating tire! We scrambled back home again, switched cars and then dashed to the airport -- pretty typical Wallis travel.

We had a really good flight out and Jonathan slept in my lap for 7 hours (I'll save you from MY plane pains.) I had us fly through Dubai to Delhi since it seemed like an interesting place I may never visit on my own accord. Sadly it was dark outside, but the airport was interesting enough to make the route perfect. I loved seeing the men walking around in their flowing white Saudi Arabian outfits with their red and white checked scarves fluttering around them. Also interesting, but not as appealing, were the women dressed in all black. Many with their faces completely covered. It is spooky to see a woman be obliterated by a black cloth. I couldn't help but count my blessings.

We also saw a mosque area (of course separated for men and women) that was advertised as much as the restrooms on the airport signage. During our time there, we enjoyed the bookstore where sadly I forgot to write down the name of some Arab cartoon that came with a line of stuffed dolls including a creepy mean woman with a wart. Most everything else was something we could easily buy in America, but they did have these fabulous mugs in the gift store.

We also heard a call to prayer while we were there, drank a Pepsi that had tab and Arabic writing on the side and found a Dairy Queen for Jonathan to get some chicken and ice cream to eat. The Indian restaurant next to it was much more popular.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Letter from camp

Jonathan and I had the best time making notecards for him to use when writing notes to family while he was a camp. He was SOOO excited about those cards. Lindsay managed to get two notes mailed from her one week camp so I thought Jon would certainly be able to send four letters to various people while at camp for two weeks. So I waited...and waited. By day 12 I gave up, but just before we hop in the car to start the journey to get Jonathan, I check the mail and find the letter...torn into a puzzle.
It starts, "I am writing to you because I want a slurpee." Obviously, I must have promised him a slurpee if he wrote me. I'm brilliant.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Jonathan at Camp

Part of our tour of Texas included dropping Jonathan off at a two week camp on the Rio Frio. It was a blast! At his camp you drive through the river, which is all kinds of cool. The crazy staff run around greeting campers with chest bumps and a rear kicking (I promise, it is fun.)

Siblings can gorge themselves on cotton candy and snowcones, get their faces painted and decorate cookies. They also had burgers and grilled shrimp to eat.

First we set him up in his cabin (while Lindsay and Hailey hit the food stands.) Somehow the kids spend two weeks in their bunks with their trunks. They really can live with very little space (I tell myself.) Jon immediately pulled out every towel I sent for him to use over the next two weeks and made a fort.

Did I mention VERY little space?

I've watched the videos and if he doesn't think this is the best two weeks of his life, then I wouldn't know what to say. Of course he can't be bothered to send a letter to anyone so we have not heard from the horse's mouth how things are going, but there are some pictures online of him having fun.

I mainly spend my days hitting refresh on the picture gallery (they add pictures every day) and then cross my fingers that he is in some of them. Hopefully I'm missing him a ton more than he is missing us since I am SO ready to go get him on Saturday!