Sri Lanka

 We just returned from Sri Lanka!
 In Sri Lanka we spent time doing tons of stuff Oscar loved (we loved it too),
like whale-watching (we saw a Bryde's whale),
taking tuk-tuk rides,
 playing in the ocean,
seeing elephants and peacocks in the wild (along with a whole host of other animals),
 reading on balconies with pretty views (yes, Oscar liked these times because he liked down time to play with his train),

  and best of all, riding on LOTS and LOTS of trains!

We also saw a cultural show with drummers and acrobatic dancers (Oscar's smile was infectiously wide),
 and stayed at crazy-interesting hotels, like Helga's folly!
 How much fun could an adventurous family with a kid have?
Well, the temples weren't really a kid thing to see.
  But wow! 
We did have one moment of breath-catching world-stopping fear.
 A train window on a small commuter train (a train window with a mighty sharp edge) slammed down like a guillotine a millimeter from my precious little boy's fingers. For a second I thought my entire world had changed (really, it would have chopped them off). But somehow his little chubby fingers were spared. So strange how a tiny fraction of a second could have changed his whole life (and mine by extension). But instead, thankfully, became nothing more than a mere footnote. Yikes. 

(I couldn't help but hear the naysayers -- the imaginary ones in my head -- saying, "I told you that you shouldn't be traipsing around the world with a little kid! Think of the dangers! Serves you right! What a terrible mommy you are!" Those naysayers sure are a pesky lot for adventure companions).
 Unfortunately for others around us in Sri Lanka, heavy rains were creating many life-changing situations. It was the worst in the cultural triangle, up north.
In fact, we never made it to the hotel we were supposed to stay at there -- the roads were flooded!
 I couldn't stop thinking of all the houses and businesses I saw standing in water. 
I thought of all the stories surrounding me and hoped and prayed for their heroes to pull through.
We did see plenty of smiles, by the way, despite the rain, and sweeter because of it.
 We also visited an elephant sanctuary and a elephant dung paper-making factory (yes, elephant dung paper -- crazy, huh? I'll put a separate post up about that next week)
 This trip, more than any other I've taken, seemed to feed me with new ideas for illustrations and also for writing.
 Maybe it was all that time spent indoors during the rain.
  But anyway, I had no distractions when I got home (the Internet wasn't even working) so I dove straight into my new ideas. Yay for diving right in.
Oh dear! I almost forgot to mention the food!
 Sri Lankan food is incredible, and different than anything else I've eaten.
 I'm usually not a savory breakfast sort of girl, but the Sri Lankan savory breakfasts we ate (pictured above) were unforgettably good. Please note that they are Bryce's favorite.
Look at all these curries and chutneys:

I'm so grateful for these rich experiences I'm sharing with my family right now.
I'm also grateful for the moments of clarity I've been having regarding my work -- especially those moments of perspective that come after a difficult battle with a stubborn art piece or a stubborn mental attitude.
 Nothing like dragging yourself away from the familiar to see things in a new way. I suppose that's sort of what this entire time living abroad is shaping up to be: a time for learning to look at life and my work in a new way.

P.S. We also brought a new member of the family home from Sri Lanka, the spiky guy pictured above, name: Rasheedi.