I have worn glasses since I was a very little girl.  I have dents on my head, just above my ears from where the stems have consistently worn into my skull.  I haven’t worn contacts much since being in India, because the dirt and grime proved too painful of a combination. I’ve wanted LASIK eye surgery for MANY years, but always put it off.  The one time I was really serious about getting it done, I had just had a baby, and it was suggested that I let my eyes “go back to normal” first.  Then I didn’t think another thing of it.

It seems that a very natural thing on the to-do list of an expat leaving India, is to get LASIK … as it is MUCH cheaper than in the United States. Now, don’t worry that it was a shoddy procedure.  I went to a doctor who is highly recommended and is very safe, using a state-of-the-art machine, laser equipment and amazingly trained staff.

LASIK stands for laser in situ keratomileusis, which means using a laser underneath a corneal flap (in situ) to reshape the cornea (keratomileusis). This procedure utilizes a highly specialized laser (excimer laser) designed to treat refractive errors, improve vision, and reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.  If you want to read more about how it all started, read the Wikipedia article on the subject.I called the doctor’s office and asked for an appointment.  Two days later, I found myself with my chin resting uncomfortably in the metal base and trying not to blink while the doctor “mapped” my eyes.  2 minutes later, after reviewing a brightly colored paper that looked like a meteorological forecast during tornado season, I was declared a “candidate.”

After we discussed the two different options for lasering, Dr. Buckshey said “Would you like to come in this afternoon at 2:00?” Yikes!

I felt like I needed some time.  Some research maybe?  A chance to lay down?  I passed on the opportunity for same-day service, came home, filled in the Husb, and then promptly fell asleep on the couch. Turns out, the nerves that I thought I’d kept under wraps were indeed present and I needed some rest.

A bit about the surgery.  If you are considering LASIK and are squeamish, or would rather go into the procedure unaware (which is EXACTLY what I did) SKIP STRAIGHT TO THE COLORED TEXT.

Having lasik surgery on my eyes in Delhi India

I am writing about MY experience, and I’m sure that everyone’s situation can offer slightly different results and moment-by-moment happenings.

2:00 — First thing on the docket was to get drops.  I had already fulfilled the required two days of pre-surgery antibiotics.  They added more drops (a combination of cleansing drops, more antibiotics, and a bit of numbing drops. Another check of my eyes, a quick chat with the doctor about the rules after the procedure and we were off.

2:10 — I was brought into a room where I removed my shoes, and got a really fashionable head cover.  Think cafeteria lady!  More drops (all numbing drops this time).  I waited approximately 5 minutes for the numbing drops to take effect.

2:15 — Time to get on the table!  Indian doctors do not tend to do much talking during procedures, and I am much more used to explanation along the way! Two large machines were in the room with me.  I have NO idea what they were each for!  They cleaned the area around my eyes and placed a shield over my face.  Next was the MOST uncomfortable part of the whole shabang.  A circular disk was placed in my eye to keep me from blinking and to stabilize the area.  It was pretty strong pressure, but no more than if you were to put the heel of your palm into your eye socket and lean onto a table.

Ok for the rest of it, you’re going to have to google it and read at your own risk.

2:25 — After the surgery was done, I sat up and could see!  Now, mind you, it was blurry, but I could see far better already than I have ever remembered seeing!I sat down in the waiting room, received yet more drops, swallowed a pain reliever and was instructed to close my eyes for 30 minutes.  I started to feel irritating and itching, as if I was wearing contacts and they were scratched or had a hair in my eye. As much as I wanted to rub my eyes, I was VERY forcefully instructed not to, as it can dislocate or shift the corneal flap.

2:55 — After 30 minutes, it was now time for an exam. 20/20 vision !!!

3:15 — In the car and on the way home!

Post-surgery, I have had mixed reactions.  It is ridiculously amazing to be able to see this clearly (during my follow up appointment, I was told that I am seeing BETTER than 20/20.  Amazing).  It is difficult to have a stringent prescription of drops to dole out 4 times a day for the next week.  It’s not a big deal, but with a busy lifestyle, it’s easy to forget. The day before the procedure, I received this email :

When you wake up tomorrow morning, sweet friend, beside your bed will be all of the different pairs of glasses that you get to choose to put on to see your world through for the day. It is amazing how this very important decision changes everything, and deciding to put on glasses of truth, optimism, goodness and gratitude will make everything more beautiful, more bearable and ever more fun.The flip side is that we can all choose to put on glasses of fear, pessimism, anger, resentment and dread too — and our whole day and everything we see and do will be seen through that kind of filter. Once again, it is amazing how this one important decision at the beginning of the day can change the way we see and experience EVERYTHING. Soooo beautiful girl, which glasses will you choose to put on? Remember that you can also choose to put down the yucky glasses and put on the good ones at any point in the day, and remember remember remember that when the day is over, put it all away and just BE. Reflect on the beauty of the day and just BE. 


How fun, true and appropriate is that? I was encouraged by the Husb and many friends to rest, rest, rest.  I inwardly thought “Rest?  Why?  I feel great!”  After sleeping 2 hours right after the procedure and a solid 9 hours that night, and two 2 hour naps the last two days, I am ready to admit that rest IS important.  Your body needs rest to heal. What came in my inbox the day after the procedure?


Dear Beautiful Brave Girl,Sometimes we forget that one of the most important parts of our daily work, our weekly work, our life’s work — is the chill time. We need white space, we need eye rest, we need peace and quiet. We need to stop thinking so hard, stop moving so fast, stop worrying so much. We would never expect a car to run without fuel. We would never expect an appliance to work without being plugged in. We would never expect a flashlight to work without batteries. Why do expect ourselves to operate at full capacity without refueling, recharging, recalibrating? Wonderful soul, please think about this. Please take it to heart. We all need rest. We all need time to chill and be. We all need to be nourished. We are living, breathing, feeling beings. We need refueling to be the life-force that we were designed to be. Take some time. Schedule it in. It is part of your important life work. No one is going to take care of this part of things, so you must. You are too important to wear out. You are so very very very loved. – A message from your friends at the Brave Girls Club

It is so important to rest, in all areas of life.  Taking a rest from your normal behavior (and stepping back to observe) can be so telling.  Taking a virtual rest from all things online and social media related is exhilarating.  Taking a physical rest is required. 

Anyway, for those of you in the Delhi area, I highly recommend my experience with Dr. Buckshey!  He operates the Visual Aids Centre in Lajpat Nagar.   You can reach him on email (vipinbuckshey@gmail.com) or by phone at 011-4610-8181 or 9810016505  (they are located at8 Ring Road Lajpat Nagar).Tell him I sent you!!



Kumon, Brainquest and the Internet

When I think back to my days of homeschooling, I remember Bob Jones and A Beka curriculum.  I also remember my mom thinking outside of the box and incorporating daily life into our weekly schooling plan.
Sure, there was the book work, worksheets and lots of pencil sharpening.  But there was also quite a bit of real life learning, training and education. 
We spent time on the scene of a demolition of a building. I spent several days with a State Senator for Nebraska, shadowing and learning.  We planted a huge garden and raised poultry (and learned quite a bit from those two simple things).  

Some of the other things we did for our home learning ::

~ we did our own cooking and laundry at home (starting at a young age)
~ assisted our mom in cleaning our church building, and all had our own jobs
~ took art classes, piano/drum lessons, ballet, played sports, etc.
~ we all started our first jobs early in our teen years (and my sister started her own business at the age of 12!!)
~ NO television for many years (ah, the horrors!) so alot of creative play time, exploring, creating and even building a treehouse.
~ the awesome ability to have my grandpa teach us all how to drive … in the back parking lots of Dodge Park at a VERY early age (I won’t tell how young!)
~ loads of camping, learning how to build fires, how to pitch tents, how to fish
~ lots of animal raising (cats, dogs, fish, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits)
~ Mom made syrup, butter, graham crackers from scratch and we learned as well along the way
~ exploring the background details of how a dairy farm worked and what steps are taken to get from little ole’ bee to honey on our toast.

Fast forward to present day.  Homeschooling for families now looks completely different than it did back then.  There are more curriculums available, there are larger support networks, there are even more opportunities afforded kids to join in with “standard school settings” for a portion of their schooling, etc.

What I find interesting though, is that given the choice, I’d choose to homeschool JUST like my mom did.
When I realized that textbooks would only get us so far in our “away” schooling jaunt, I pulled from the way I was raised … and we set out to investigating the city we would be living in for several weeks and I set out to explore the internet.
What I found was beyond helpful and I’m impressed with the following resources (beyond impressed, actually) ::

These workbooks are not for everyone.  They require repetition, repetition and more repetition.  They also offer your child the awesome opportunity to DO THE WORK ON THEIR OWN.  Most kiddos don’t need a teacher standing over their shoulder 8 hours out of their day.  They need a bit of guidance, and a bit of support, and then they need the freedom to work on their own.  There is a great sense of satisfaction when they reach the end of a worksheet and can say ‘I DID it!”

We used 5 books each for the two littles …. that covered topics as broad as “Tracing” for Mia and as specific as “Geometry” for Tony.

I’ll be honest though — I found the repetition a bit much for my two littles, and a lot much for me.  I could only handle so much of the “not again” comments from the kids, so we hit, skipped and missed quite a few of the repetitious pages.
BrainQuest ::
Gone are the days when BrainQuest simply means the little flip cards with fun questions.  I found two workbooks put out by BrainQuest and they were amazingly wonderful to use during our time of away schooling.  Fun, colorful and covering a wide gamut of subjects, they held the littles’ attention WELL!  Mia actually asks every morning if it’s time yet to do her BrainQuest workbook.  Big thumbs up on these!
Our favorite Internet Resources for learning ::

Science :: Foss Web, Catie

Reading :: Raz Kids (requires a paid membership or a login from your teacher/school)

Math :: Math Playground and EveryDay Math

All subjects :: Have Fun Teaching

In addition to workbooks, internet and assigned school work from home, we are also taking advantage of some extra time together as a family unit and going on field trips, utilizing the local library and including everyone during things like science experiments and art projects.

Homeschooling still isn’t for our family long term … and I will gladly send these kiddos back to their amazing teachers … but we’re making the best of our time together!

Disappearing Act

I’ve written in the past about the jobs, titles and responsibilities that are attached to being a mother.  How those things define who you are.  How often it’s no longer about what you used to do for a living, or how far you made it through your education years.  It’s sometimes, pathetically, not even about what your NAME is, as many times you are simply referred to as “Antonio’s mom.”

I knew before we landed in Delhi as a new expat family that my reason for being on this earth was currently defined by three letters – M O M – but had no idea how deep my feelings on the subject ran, UNTIL we landed here and started acclimating.

It almost feels as though you are slowly, slowly … disappearing. 

Disappearing Act Naomi Hattaway

The things you used to be relied on for, are now passed on to someone else to do.  You no longer do even the miniscule of jobs that formerly identified you as a MOM.

Your ID badges that are required for admittance to daily stops (school, club, etc.) all list me as either a “Parent” or a “Spouse” … not simply Naomi.

Before I got married, I wore several hats.  I was a single mom (both financially AND physically) to Terran.  I received little to no child support and while chaotic, I thrived at that.  I worked two, sometimes three jobs.  I relied heavily on family and friends to help with Terran’s social and mental well-being (not to mention babysitting!).  We got through it.  At the end of every day, while I may have been tired, I was satisfied because I had “done it all.”After getting married and quitting my job, I found myself slowly adapting to my new role.  My new title.  I no longer was the breadwinner and was simply a mother.  I was also now a wife, and a daughter-in-law.  With those two new jobs, came new requirements and new daily things to work on, perfect and enjoy.

With this recent move and since becoming an expat chick, I am again adapting to my new role.  This one though, leaves a lot of gaps.  It’s as though I’m disappearing … and rather than let that happen, my instant inclination is to over-commit.  Find things to volunteer for and ways to spend my day.

How do you best balance the lack of required MOM duty (and even WIFE duty) with a desire to find yourself again?

When you’re living in a country where most everything is done FOR you, shouldn’t you seize the opportunity and do things that make you happy?

It seems to be so … seems logical that us expat girls should relish in this time and instead of relinquishing ourselves to disappearing, we should leap for joy and make bucket lists galore.  Explore, learn, teach, expand and better ourselves.

Why then … do alot of the women I talk to still feel over-scheduled, not rested and stressed?  Is it the disappearing act and all that’s associated with it that leaves us still longing for more?

As we sit around the school campus after drop-off, or carry in our yoga mats, or get in line at the local “grocery store” … there is alot of discussion about how THIS time should be golden … yet we feel guilty for doing things that make US happy.

I’m not looking for the answer … as I’m sure that for each of us expat women, there is a different situation involved (some have traveling spouses, some are the breadwinners, some have children, others do not, some are here with no departure date set and others know the minute they will leave).

I’m simply voicing out loud my struggles with feeling sometimes as though I’m simply disappearing.

Saturday normal.

Saturday night. Saturday normal.  The clock ticks slowly towards midnight.

Nearly the middle of July. 2011.

A movie on the tube.  Dog chews on his braided rope toy.

My face is illuminated by the laptop and the middle little makes sure the specific spot on his blankie is getting enough attention.   He is battling the latest download in the iPad.

If I had the energy to get up, I’d pour another glass of white wine.  Chilled long enough that the bite of it is gone.  Maybe it’s not necessarily the energy, but the fact that if I get up now, the smallest little will be disturbed.

It’s not every night that they are still awake during the Cinderella hours.  When He said that we should let them start staying up later to acclimate them to Rome, I agreed.

Although the downfall of them being used to the time zone once we arrive, is possibly missing an early morning fruit market.

Wearing my makeshift pajamas.  The same tank top I wore all through the day.  Pants that are now shorts – due to my irritation one night when the aircon wasn’t cooling to my satisfaction.

The biggest one of them all is holed up in his room.  Has been all day.  His bestest left our house a couple of hours ago and I can see the dread in their eyes.  They have five days until their paths stop crossing.  I don’t quite know how to help them understand that life is bigger than this moment.

The construction from across has ceased for the weekend.  At least we hope it’s finished for a couple of days, a respite.

There is bacon in the fridge for the morning.  The big clock on the wall still refuses to tell the time and my project of memories on the wall still remains unfinished.

Tomorrow will bring quiet.  Peace.  The solace of JUST US.  Sundays are like that around here.