A lot of people have contacted me, insisting for updates so here I go!
I have been extremely busy, working 40 hours a week (going back down to 25 in a couple of weeks) and finishing up my graduate program. I graduate with my MA on September 10th and will be taking the next few months before my trip to complete my thesis on "Inter-Cultural Solidarity and Grassroots Community Building" and begin my work in Anti-Opression Trainings in a couple of weeks. I have been offered a teaching position focusing on globalization and culture, based on the research I will be doing in India on the topic of "Women, Culture and Land Use Issues in the Global South." I definitely have my plate full but have never been happier with the direction of my career and personal life.
Without giving too many details, I'd like to note that about a month ago, my oldest daughter's father withdrew his consent for her to participate in the entire trip with me, which has led to legal action. Things will be settled shortly and I will post an update when I have a better sense of what is going to happen. I am grateful for my youngest daughter's father, who has not only began to contribute to my family's trip financially, but has taken steps to help me get her passport without being present. His financial support has come as a suprise, but it makes sense that he would want to help his daughter have this experience of a lifetime.
In the meantime, details about the trip are regularly being fine-tuned, such as homeschool plans for the kids and other kid-related tourist adventures like a mini safari in Kenya through the Nairobi Backpackers and some great kid-friendly spots in India. I am excited about being able to do the one on one teaching with my kids! Some of the projects we will work on include international currency conversion stuff, pratical applications of mathematics, art and cultural focuses, cooking with the metric system, visiting wildlife refuges, monastaries, history of the rail system (in India and Kenya), religion, and of course, Xenia insists on learning Sanskrit and learning about ll of the animals, plants and geological formations. We'll spend time on trains reading and studyng in the library at Amma's Ashram in Kerela. I am grateful to have friends who will be travelling and living in India while we're there, so we can spend a good amount of time in each place. My friend Aeon and her husband Vivek will be both living back there in a few weeks and my friend Sumir is moving back to India to live in one of the monastaries I will be visiting. While not with friends, we will be staying in some highly recommended family-friendly hostels that will cost us less than $3 per night each! The Lonely Planet website has been a great source of information, as well as our friends Terrie and her son Ceili who have family there and have visited regularly.
As far as my "wish list" goes, I have gotten a lot of what I need. I got an amazing $300 backpack for barter for myself and have bought two used kids packs for very very cheap. I also have a list of prescriptions from my doctor and am getting a Nutri-biotic first aid kit donated. Michelle has been buying me breathable blouses (for me and the kids) so we can tolerate the hot weather and still dress in a culturally appropriate manner. We still need compact sleeping bags, mosquito nets, a UV pen (water filter), a digital camera and good shoes, but I still have 4 months to get the things we need and I know it will all come together!
I am grateful that I have had so much support from all of my amazing community members! I have gotten more advice, recommendations and stuff for the trip than I could have ever wished for. I feel like I am a bit too prepared and hope that my flexibility won't cease while on this adventure!
More updates posted soon, I promise!