Jon & Kate Have Nothing On Us...

It was all chaos and cupcakes here last Friday night as we belatedly celebrated Riley and Sheridan's birthday's. With NINE kids. Who all slept over. Yes, we were crazy thank you very much.

The girls invited three kindergartners, four first graders, one second and one third grader over to join in the food, the games, the fun. The kids did a few arts and crafts projects, ate a ton of dinner and desserts, played a dress-up relay game, and watched a movie.

And then... they all got into their pajamas to sleep over. All nine of them ... plus our friend's thirteen year old daughter who totally rocked in the help department. (thank you Holli!)

It took well over two hours for everyone to fall asleep after they brushed their teeth, jumped on the bed, organized who would sleep where, and cried. Oh yes, there were tears. A few cuddles, a little Tylenol, a couple more potty stops, some sips of water, promises to keep the light on ... and by 11:30 pm they were all asleep. Smushed three to a bed. Spread on the floor. Sawing logs.

Until 6:15 am when they were WIDE awake. Wide, wide awake. I shooed them to the playroom to watch a little TV as I was not ready to start the day that early ... oh why were they??

Breakfast of pancakes and eggs was served to the kids at 8:00 am, followed by a trip to the playground with Holli and supervised by Matt, while I started on breakfast for the parents who came to grab their kids at 10 am.

The time flew by. The kids all had a fun time. And it wasn't nearly as hectic as I had anticipated it to be. Of course, I'm not aspiring to be in television any time soon, so it was quite easy to give the Jon & Kate Plus Eight kids back. Three's definitely a Company.


Outie Vs Innie...

We've passed the 9 month mark. That is, Grady is now 9 months and change. Or 40 weeks and 5 days... but who's counting?

Um... I am. See, he was born at 38 weeks 4 days, which now has him out longer than he was in.

Whew! Time sure flies by when you have a busy boy. A very busy boy.

As he is now crawling, albeit in the weirdest, funkiest way, we need to contain him so that he doesn't get into everything when we're not looking. So we set up the pack n' play downstairs. And this is what I saw when I walked out of my office early this morning.

Shut up. Yeah, I know I need to buy him more pajamas. These ARE 12 month PJ's, okay?
Who knew he'd grow out of them so quickly.

His recent stats...

Weight ~ 21 pounds
Height ~ 29 inches

Favorite foods... tomatoes, hummus, grilled cheese sandwiches.

My favorite photo of him? Making "The Ugly Face". Just like his sisters, Grady makes the most horrific looking face. And it cracks me up. Don't they look alike?

Riley 2004 ... Sheridan 2006 ... Grady 2010


Softens Hands While You Do Dishes

This morning, while in the midst of a minor meltdown over my overflowing sink, I sat down at the kitchen table and on my iPhone posted a status update on both Facebook and Twitter.

It said ... "JKP Really wishes she had a dishwasher. And one with a name like Bosch or Kitchen Aid - not Priya or Janifer."

We don't have a dishwasher. I mean, we do... we have a maid. But we don't have a REAL mechanical device for cleaning dishes. Which means that our dishes are never TRULY clean. They are mostly clean. They look pseudo-clean to the naked eye. But they're not sprayed, washed, scalded, and sterilized for an hour in an electric piece of heaven to make me feel like my dishes are Cascade clean.

Never before have I received such immediate and hilarious responses to a posting. Which so-far includes 9 'likes', 16 'comments', and several 'LMFAO's. And mostly from friends who live overseas. Who are in the same boat. Their comments, ranging from commiserating about not having a dishwasher to missing having a garbage disposal, have ignited a thread that has lasted all day long!

And it's heartwarming. Because while misery really doesn't love company while washing dishes, it IS nice to know that I'm not the only one who ends her night as the poster child for Palmolive.

I just wish that the spots on my wineglasses hadn't become a part of every day life overseas.


We Amore Singapore!

What a wonderful weekend. A stupendously spontaneous vacation. It was as good as (and quite possibly even better) than our trip to Bangkok. We truly left our hearts in Singapore.

Singapore really is a great city. It's clean. It's modern. They put a premium on aesthetics; with tree lined streets, wide boulevards, and oh-so pedestrian friendly. Singapore is basically one giant interconnected mall ... and you could conceivably walk the entire city underground from mall to mall to mall. If you didn't like the Gucci, Dolce & Gabanna and Louis Vuitton on one corner, you could go across to the street to the Hermes, Prada, or Cartier on the other. It was the Starbuck-ification of high end shops. The people were friendly and hospitable, well dressed and well groomed ... truly the antithesis of Chennai. Even the pigeons were even banned due to potential pooping. Best of all, the silence was deafening. I've never been in a metropolitan city of 4.5 million people where you couldn't hear a peep. No horns. No sirens. No phlegm.

The only drawback was that it was exorbitantly expensive. Our meal at California Pizza Kitchen was $75... must have been the top shelf tequila in our Chicken Tequila Fettuccine. And dining out at TGI Friday's? Don't...even...ask...

But it was worth it. So very, very worth it. The girls loved the zoo (more specifically, the water park they played in for close to 2 hours). They squealed with delight on the Singapore Flyer, the world's largest giant observation wheel. They were in heaven riding the subway. Taxis were a blast too ... especially when you could just hop in, and didn't need a car seat. And Starbucks chocolate swirl cake totally justifies the schlepping around in the unbelievable heat and humidity.

There was no vomit this trip. Very few meltdowns. Only one bed wetting accident (sorry rollaway bed). And only one case of pinworms. That we dealt with yesterday at the Apollo Children's hospital back here in Chennai. There's always something...

Our next vacation? Twenty-four days and counting!


A Destination Birthday!

On Friday, February 12th, my beautiful daughter Riley celebrated her 7th birthday. All she wanted was a birthday cake in her classroom and a sleepover party. So I talked to her teacher and picked the time for her party, and I spoke to a few of her girlfriend's parents to set up the date for the sleepover. However, things always seem to change here at Casa de Perlman.

We did get to have cake in her classroom, with year's design in the shape of an iPod (her latest craze). And we did get to take her to Sparky's Diner for dinner with her friend Carter. But her sleepover had to be postponed...

Because after we went to dinner, we jetted off to Singapore for the weekend!

Last Sunday Matt decided we needed to make up for our Sri Lanka trip and get out of dodge for another weekend. In less than 30 minutes, we looked online, found some inexpensive tickets, booked our hotel, and scheduled our trip. It was so last minute, so spontaneous, so fun to plan!

Here we are yesterday ... having a Starbucks, and enjoying the mall just across the street from our hotel.

Then it was off to lunch... at California Pizza Kitchen. We sat OUTSIDE almost 2 hours eating and enjoying the view. Woo Hoo!!

And then off to the Night Safari ... where we had a great time watching the fire eaters, taking a tram ride around the park, observing various nocturnal animals from all over the world, and ending with a Creatures of the Night show that had us laughing until 10:30 pm! And oh yes, we can't forget about the nightcap at Ben and Jerry's.

We're thoroughly enjoying our time here in Singapore. Today we spent the entire day at the Singapore Zoo followed by dinner at TGI Friday's, and tomorrow we're off to the Singapore Flyer, and other Western trappings of civilization before flying back to Chennai.

More photos and details to come in our next update... Stay tuned!


The Post Where I Remind You That This Is MY Blog

Last August I wrote a very difficult post about my internal struggles of being open and honest about our life overseas, and dealing with the potential backlash of said honesty. Remember that? Click here if you didn't get a chance to read it. I'll wait.

I didn't think I'd need to address this again, yet it has come to my attention that there are a lot more people here in India who read this than I had known. Regardless, it STILL doesn't change the tone nor the content of what I write. This is MY blog. These are MY feelings. It is MY commentary and MY editorializing.

The ideas expressed in this online journal in no way, shape, or form represent those of the U.S. Government, AISC, or any other person or organization either known to me or not. Yes, I am an American Diplomat. Yes, I am on the AISC school board. But, I am writing as a mother to two daughters and a son, as a wife of a federal employee, as a dog owner, as an expat living in India. I don't sugarcoat life here. I don't hide behind my words. And I don't write about any privileged information I have with either the U.S. Consulate or with the AISC school board. Period.

I make NO apologies for my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. I stand up for what I believe in. I speak my mind. I talk the truth. While I wished more parents would assert themselves and speak up when they notice something isn't right, I don't mind being a squeaky wheel. In fact, I don't mind being the only squeaky wheel. I will always challenge, and will not tolerate complacency. It's what makes me, me.

And that's why y'all keep coming back to read The Perlman Update.


AISC Sports Day

Today was AISC's annual Sports Day for the kids in kindergarten thru second grade. From 9 am - 12 pm the kids participated in 15 different activities ranging from relay races to balloon popping, obstacle courses to tug of war. Each grade was given a different colored t-shirt, the kids were all lathered in sunblock, and then everyone let loose to frolic and sweat in the warm winter sun!

I spent the entire three hours rushing all over the soccer field attempting to split my time between both Riley and Sheridan's classes. Um... didn't exactly happen. But I did manage to take 200 or so photos and 10 videos of them laughing, playing, running, competing, and having a great time.

Here are a few snapshots of their day...


Here's Looking At You Kid

A few weeks ago I was in the girl's locker room with Riley and her friends after swimming practice helping them change. The girls were giggling loudly, recalling the projects they did that day in class, when all of the sudden, I got a funny feeling that we were being stared at. Sure enough, I looked over and the bathroom attendant was watching us. Like it was no big deal. For those of you not familiar with this practice, bathroom attendants are quite common in India. They spend their whole day in the restroom, supposedly cleaning, and in the school's case, safeguarding the kids personal property. However, I don't enjoy the gawking, so I stared back long enough for her to avert her eyes. But she didn't move. Or flinch when we left. I made a mental note to talk to the administration.

Then, early last week, a friend of mine stopped me outside the bathroom and complained she found the same woman, along with another cleaning lady, sleeping. My first response was, "again?" I thought by now that so many people would have complained about her sleeping the administration would have taken charge and nipped it in the bud. But sleeping isn't a terminable offense here, and every where you go you see people sleeping on the job.

On Monday I came unglued. Seriously ... wicked ... upset. My daughter complained to me that two bathroom attendants in the girl's locker room were staring at her and her friends while they were changing after ballet. There were no other adults in the locker room at the time. She told me she didn't like it. Neither did I.

Without hesitation, I high tailed my tush to the head of the maintenance department to demand this woman be removed. On my way I ran into a girlfriend, who mentioned that this same attendant had been caught in the past with photos of school girls on her camera phone, and that when confronted, admitted she took them, deleted them, and agreed to leave her phone at the security desk during her work day. Hearing this, sent me over the edge. I had been in the locker room myself earlier that day, and I saw her with her phone in her hand.

I'm sure you can picture me at this point, with my sharply furrowed brows and tightly pursed lips, talking to the management in a loud, sharp-edged voice. I was relentless. I was not about to walk away until I was assured that she would be removed immediately. We don't need this type of inappropriate behavior from the staff at our highly accredited school. Within minutes of hearing what happened, I was guaranteed that this situation would be dealt with immediately, that it would be taken care of by the end of the day.

Imagine my surprise when I came to school yesterday and she was still there. Seriously still there. Not fired. Not removed. On our campus. I had trouble picking my jaw up off the floor. I won't bother to tell you the excuses I was given, for they no longer matter. When I got home yesterday, I immediately sent an e-mail to the Head of School, and by this morning the woman was no longer there. I checked. Several times.

It's been an emotional few days... I'm glad it's over. The tension was slightly overwhelming. In the end, I, and everyone else who I told, agreed that we don't take chances when it comes to our kids. While I'd like to believe she didn't mean any harm, there was no need for her constant presence in the locker room. Crisis averted... for now.


My Latest Creation

I'm finally sewing again. I have inspiration. I have the materials. I have the time.

I deconstructed my sewing room when my parents came for their visit in late December, and never put it back together after they left. Until last week.

I made this dress as a birthday gift for my girlfriend's daughter. It's a favorite design of my girls ... I've made them each one of their own.

Of course, now that they've seen this, they both want another one... in blue. I think I can oblige.


Trip To The Zoo

Last Saturday we took the kids to the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (aka "the zoo") in Vandalur, about an hour from our house. We went with a small Consulate contingent, and met up with everyone at the entrance just after the zoo opened. The Park was HUGE, far larger than I had anticipated. However, they didn't have any printed maps to show us where to go, rather we were stuck relying on the faded and outdated directories sporadically scattered throughout the park. And of course, there were no "You Are Here" symbols on these directories to show us where in the world we may be. Go figure.

The zoo was actually quite clean, and had a wide variety of animals. Although at times I questioned what was really on exhibit... us or the wildlife. We definitely got more attention than they did!

I got a chuckle out of many of the signs posted around the park. My particular favorite is the evolution of man... from "Chaka" (Land of the Lost) to a bleached-0ut Bollywood actor from the 70's. Clearly no "man-scaping" there. Anyway...

The kids had a great time riding on the elephant, seeing the white tigers, laughing at the all the different species of monkeys, and enjoying the day with their friends.

Here are some of the photos from the day...

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