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[Comments] (1) Post-Christmas Fest: In the past week we went bowling with Brook, Logan, Chad, Ember and Tyler; took Ember and Tyler to Boondocks (I won grand prize on Deal or No Deal - twice! Ember and Tyler also won big); went to see The Princess and the Frog; had a New Year's Eve taco and game party at our house; and went to Nathan's birthday and game party. Lots of fun family time. The kids have really enjoyed seeing so much of their cousins. Maggie will take any attention she can get, and Dalton seems to enjoy being rocked to sleep by Chad and his metal wear.

[Comments] (1) 2009 Numbers:
Sewing / Crafts
Clothes: 19
Toys: 11
Décor/accessories: 14
Significant non sewing crafts: 4
Scrapbook pages: 33
Reading: 85 books, 27667 pages (even more than 2008)
Weight gained: 55 pounds
Weight lost: 30 pounds
Money earned: about $5000
Money saved using coupons: about $350
Pictures: 1250
Items of clutter that left my house: 550

Things that happened this year: Went to CHA. Taught Primary. Taught piano. Maggie turned two. Draper Temple Dedication. Bought a new car. 10 day trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks with my in-laws. Lots of sewing and crafting. A lot of staycationing – and really a lot of hiking. Zoo, aquarium, Thanksgiving Point, American Fork canyon, Timp Cave, Cecret and Silver and Great Salt lakes. New office furniture. Visits to Grandma June and playdates with Tasha and Colette. I had a baby! Both of my siblings visited.

[Comments] (1) January Blahs: John went back to work today. I'd be even more bummed if we weren't going to Disneyland in eleven days. The kids and I are back to normal. We went grocery shopping bright and early this morning, had lunch, and watch half of A Bug's Life. We're showing Maggie movies associated with Disneyland rides before our trip.

This weekend we got to spend some time with my extended family. 9 of my cousins, along with 3 spouses, 1 fiance and 2 new babies came over, and Jon and Sharon. It was great to see everyone.

Also, some fun random pictures and video from today.

[Comments] (2) Murphy's Law Strikes Again: I put Maggie down for quiet time (ie. non nap) with no diaper and she actually fell asleep. At least I put a towel down.

2010 To Dos: Some of my goals this year.

Read each Ensign cover to cover.
Read 50 books (unsure of library situation in India, so I'll do what I can in the first half of the year).
Go to Hong Kong.
Grow out my hair
Lose 20 pounds.

Nothing terribly life-altering, though we've been wanting to visit Hong Kong for years.

[Comments] (6) 2009 Favorites:
Favorite book: Catching Fire (the only book I gave 5 stars on Goodreads to in 2009)
Favorite thing I made: The fishie coat. Maggie wears it every day and loves to fill the pockets with nuts from Grandma's house.
Favorite memory: Hiking. We did a lot of hiking in 2009. In particular, watching Old Faithful from halfway up the mountain in Yellowstone, and dragging myself and my baby belly up to Timp Cave (not fun, but made for a good story).
Favorite Maggieism: "Happy Birthday Daddy, I love you!" This is how she says "I love you."
Favorite Daltonism: *really adorable smile* coo!
Favorite thing we bought: Do I really have to decide between my car and my office furniture?

[Comments] (1) Follow the Smoothie:
*singing songs*
Mommy: Which prophet do you want to sing about?
Maggie: Boba?
Mommy: Jonah? Noah?
Maggie: No, boba!

She's also started saying "in a week" to mean later.
Mommy: Do you need to go potty?
Maggie: No, not yet. In a week.

I showed Maggie how if you clap loudly Dalton's bouncer music will turn on. The next thing I knew she was trying it out by shouting "Go!" Poor Dalton thought she was yelling at him, not the bouncer, and got so sad.

Fetch!:
"Ok, boy, go get it!"
"Um, I don't think Dalton's quite ready for that."

Life, I Love You: I'm having a very happy day. Dalton finally slept 7 hours again last night (it's been about a week). Our playdate was canceled, so I took the kids to the aquarium instead. We also dropped off 7 bags of stuff to DI - and I just went there a couple weeks ago! I am on a decluttering roll. Now we have piano lessons, then a yummy dinner, and only THREE days until we leave for our trip. Nothing special, but happy nonetheless.

[Comments] (1) Twas Brillig: A few weeks ago at a family party, we were discussing the new Alice in Wonderland movie and I heard it said that the movie was finally being made as the drug-induced fantasy intended by Lewis Carroll. I just finished reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There and I must say I don't think that's what he intended at all. The books are a little wacky, but not at all creepy and really no different than any other book with a dream sequence. They are actually quite logical and clever and fun.

Just to make sure, I went back and read the introduction to my book (The Complete Illustrated Works of Lewis Carroll) and sure enough - Alice's Adventures Underground was composed on the fly on a boating outing where Carroll was entertaining 3 young girls (One named Alice, believe it or not). The original, handwritten manuscript is included later in my book, so I'll get to that soon.

Also, I looked up the movie and it is apparently a sequel, where Alice returns to Wonderland as an adult and "learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen's reign of terror." Not that the movie doesn't look fabulous (and creepy). But I don't think it's closer to the book than other versions. Especially since the entire plot is different.

Next up: The Hunting of the Snark. Perhaps I should get out the soundtrack and indoctrinate Maggie. A boojum, indeed.

[Comments] (3) Happiest Place: Hello from sunny Southern California!

Well, technically, the sun is not shining right now. But we had a beautiful, sunny day in the 70s, complete with flip flops. *sigh* We spent the entire day at Disneyland. Maggie is in love. We spent all morning in Fantasyland, and John and I snuck in a few rides for ourselves. We had to bribe Maggie (fruit snacks) to go on Matterhorm with me the second time. But the ride I had the hardest time getting her on was... Winnie the Pooh. Seriously! She was screaming "No! Not!" in line and I made her go and she loved it and went twice more. She did the same thing to John with Alice in Wonderland. Whenever we get in line for something, she changes her mind, either about what ride she wants to go on, or what color. But overall she was just darling.

Dalton was also very good and obediently took a few naps in his car seat. Everyone thinks he is the cutest baby on earth (well, duh!). We got that all the time with Maggie living in California. I think people in Utah are just tired of looking at babies.

Now he is in his crib screaming over who-knows what. That's about how it went on the airplane as well: Maggie loved it, Dalton was great and slept the whole time, and then was grumpy afterward.

Maggie got to meet Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger (Tigger twice, since John and I each did single rider on Splash Mountain). She was so adorably shy, but loved it. She also got a kiss from Mickey during the dance party parade, and got to see lots of other characters.

Another long day tomorrow. We're going to do California Adventure and a few rides we missed at Disneyland. Hopefully, we get some sleep tonight.

[Comments] (1) The Coast: Today I drove to Pat and Alan's house in the pouring rain. It was raining SO hard and was pretty scary at times. John might have been kidding about the waves splashing onto the PCH, but I actually did see a wave rising above the road.

Dalton was a great baby and slept almost the entire time. Maggie dropped her "little coloring" and screamed about it for an hour. I guess I should have gotten off the freeway and gotten it for her. I tried to point out things to distract her, but they were all Christmas trees. "Look, there's IKEA!" "It's NOT IKEA, it's a Bissmas tree!" Eventually I had to pull over and snuggle her back to happiness. We also stopped at Pea Soup Anderson's. Maggie was a great eater and really liked the soup. I had a difficult time with both kids in the restaurant, but we survived.

We eventually made it. As soon as we walked in the door Maggie said, "Where's Leah?" Leah eventually came over and they were two peas in a pod and had tons of fun. Maggie imitated everything Leah said. "Mom, look at my castle!" After they left, Maggie piled pillows onto her Uncle Alan's lap and settled down to watch TV. Most adorable pictures forthcoming. The kids went to sleep great. More fun tomorrow.

[Comments] (2) Rainy Day Fun: Since it was pouring rain on Tuesday, Pat and I took Maggie (and Dalton, who slept the whole time) to the San Luis Obispo Children's Musuem. We got drenched walking to the museum, but the sun came out while we were there, and we were able to walk a couple blocks to a yummy, fresh restaurant after. Maggie loved the museum. It was very hands-on and she had a lot of fun trying on firemen uniforms, serving up food in the diner, and mostly, digging for sabertooth bones. They also had a life-sized train and a real police motorcycle.

In the evening, we took advantage of another break in the rain and Shannon and I took Maggie, Joel and Leah to a beach in Morro Bay. As soon as we got there, Maggie took off running toward the ocean. I'm not sure what she would have done if she'd hit the water before I stopped her. It was windy and a little chilly so we didn't stay long, but the kids had fun climbing the dunes and scavenging rocks and shells.

Wednesday was my dreaded drive back to the OC. It took me 6 hours to get to Los Osos, including the stop at Pea Soup Anderson's and two other stops. It took me 8 and a half hours to get back, with one little McDonald's stop. The rain was coming down so hard, we went about 40 mph for a long time. Just when I was beginning to think I had a good idea of what it's like to drive under water, it started raining twice as hard! I couldn't even see the road and everyone turned on their flashers so we could at least see each other.

Then, we spent 2 hours completely stopped on the 405 when it was closed because of flooding. Of course, if I'd known we were going to be sitting there for 2 hours, we'd have gotten out and played in the rain. Instead, I let Maggie snuggle on my lap for a few minutes, then hurriedly put her back in her seat when we scooted up 5 feet. She fell asleep and slept the rest of the way home (and peed in her car seat).

I ended up climbing into the backseat to feed Dalton while he was still in his carseat. It took too long to get him in and out and I was so paranoid traffic would move and I'd have to wait until I got him back in. It was much easier to hop back over the seat myself. (Obviously, I did not know the freeway was flat-out closed at this point.) Disneyland got shown up this trip and is no longer the most unusual placed I've nursed a baby. I also managed to change his diaper. Successful parenting!

Today I took the kids to Disneyland for a few hours in the morning. It wasn't raining at first, but everything seemed to be closed. We went on a couple rides, then spent a lot of time walking between closed attractions. I walked all the way to Winnie-the-Pooh (closed) then all the way back to Toontown (closed), by which time it had started raining. We went to the Princess Fantasy Faire (also closed, but we rode the carousel a few times until it opened). Maggie isn't "into" the Princesses, but she likes them just as much as any other character. When Toontown finally opened, we went and visited Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Mickey. Dalton and Maggie ate lunch at Mickey's house, then we raced back to the car in the rain.

A big thanks to the random strangers who chased me across the park to give me their extra rain poncho. By the time I got it, the canopies on the stroller and carseat, and my rain jacket were all soaked. The poncho helped a lot, since it poured the whole way back to the car. By then our pants, shoes and socks were also drenched, and there were puddles on the footrests and basket of the stroller.

After resting at the hotel, we drove back to Disneyland when John got off work since the rain had stopped. Only to find out that Disneyland was closed due to rain. (The rain that had stopped.) We wandered around Downtown Disney and had dinner and ice cream, then came home and put the kids to bed.

As Not Fun as the super rainy bits of my morning were, I'm going to do it again tomorrow. Here's to a bit of sunshine, and non-grumpy kids!

[Comments] (5) Fly Away Home: We made it home last night. It's good to be back to my own shampoo, bed, refrigerator, car, computer, and washing machine. Not so much with the weather.

We had good weather for our last two days at Disneyland. We made the most of it. I think we've had enough Dumbo, Casey Jr., Gadget's Go-Coaster and Winnie-the-Pooh to last us a while. Maggie went on Winnie-the-Pooh 13 times. Ack. She also really loved the Ferris Wheel (she kept saying "fearis wheel") and the carousels.

The plane ride home wasn't quite as fabulous as the trip there. Dalton fussed a little bit, but overall the kids were great and we got lots of compliments on how well-behaved they were.

Maggie has gotten into the habit of saying "Ta da!" at random times and gets mad if I repeat it. It's really difficult not to repeat such adorableness. She also asked to go back to Disneyland anytime we were on a ride she didn't like.

Also, when a man in first class asked her name while we were boarding the plane yesterday she answered, "Maggie Sue."

Good Deal: I went to Target today. I love that Target has their own coupons you can stack with manufacturer coupons. I bought $30 of diapers for $21, plus I got a $5 gift card back. I also got baby wash for 19 cents, two pairs of pants for Maggie for $1.75 each, and got paid 6 cents for taking a tube of A&D off their shelf.

After Target, we went to the aquarium. This was Dalton's first time (out of my tummy and awake). He didn't know what to think, but he was pretty happy chilling in his stroller.

Then we came home and cleaned. Maggie got some 25 piece puzzles handed down from her cousins, and she's really been enjoying doing them all on her own. Right now, however, she is putting coins into our piggy bank for the seventh time.

Baby Girl: Silly Maggie all over the place.

The cuckoo clocks are coming! Hide on [under] my chair. They're getting out [of] the way!
Ta dum!
Look, he's little! (She says this about Dalton all the time)
I no can't reach/do it. (Standard do-it-for-me) Also, she's been quoting movies a lot lately.
"Everybody knows your name, Woody!" (Toy Story 2)
"Look, Barbie! An ugly man doll." (Toy Story 2)
"Help! P-P-Piglet. (Me)." (The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh)
"Here! A Magic [invisible] Feather! Now you can fly!" (Dumbo) She calls Lightning McQueen "Lightning a Peen".

And I think I already mentioned that she now tells people her name is "Maggie Sue."

She is being a darling older sister and loves getting toys for Dalton to play with. She just said "he needs his star" and went upstairs to get it for him.

Sweet Boy: Dalton grew up so much on our trip to California. He started rolling onto his stomach (can go both ways now) and showing interest in and grabbing at toys. It's fun to watch him bat at his toys in the bouncer, or grasp a rattle and play with it. He also tries to lean forward and sit up, when I'm holding him, and when he's in the bouncer.

He is such a happy and sweet boy. He is always smiling and hardly ever grumpy. He lets us put him down in his crib for naps and at bedtime so well. He is the perfect compliment to his big sister.

Next Up: With our Disney trip over, we're moving on to planning our next vacation. We're going to Bryce Canyon in April. Thanks for Rachel for the National Parks annual pass that will still be good. We're not going to camp (don't think Dalton could handle it, plus it will probably be very cold) but we're going to do lots of hiking.

We started training today, by taking the kids for a walk on the trail in their carriers. We really wanted to do one hike that is an 8 mile loop, but it's just not going to happen. Even if we can carry the kids (and 1 1/2 gallons of water) that far, they would be really bored and tired of sitting there.

Dark?: Every night, before Maggie can go to sleep, she has to look out her window to see if it's "morning, gark, or nighttime." She says "g" instead of "d" pretty frequently, as in "goggie". Silly girl.

UPDATE: Maggie woke up at 6 am (severely disrupting my post-Dalton-feeding sleep cycle) crying, "Come back, Mommy! Morning, gark, or nighttime!" When I went into her room, she was out of it, and slurring her words, but finally peeked out of her blinds and was satisfied and went back to sleep.

: Maggie woke up this morning screaming for me to come back and put her seat belt on. She must just be having weird dreams lately.

I had a weird dream, too. It was about rescue crews trying to get to a Jeep that had driven off the road. Perhaps related to the Jeep I saw spin out of control on the freeway yesterday. I wonder how one loses control of a car in broad daylight and perfectly fine weather. Luckily, she stopped the car ok, and all the kids in the backseat were wearing seatbelts.

Not Just for Reading: Maggie loves books. She carries around stacks of them. She takes them in the car with her. She is no longer allowed to sleep with them. She gets mad if we go to the library just for storytime and don't have time to read books. They're for more than just reading. They can be used for:

a stage - she stacks up books (all homemade by me and Rachel) and lines up her animals or her "big guys" on it.
butterfly wings - holds two books up behind her back. She also does this with the cushion from the toy box.
a duck mouth. "Pack!"
a brush or comb. "All girls who like to brush and comb should have a pet like this at home."
scissors, with which she "fixes" things like my pants.
a tail. She put a book on the stool behind Grandma June and announced that Grandma had a tail. Luckily, Grandma found it funny, too.

And, Maggie is wearing jeans today for the first time in about 6 months.

Happy Heart: People Maggie loves can expect something cute arriving in their mailboxes. Unless of course you love her back, in which case you are probably playing with her in the next 8 days and getting something cute in person. Seriously. I only have to mail 4 out of 13. Thanks for all the free babysitting!

It's a Bear! It's a Moose! It's a Really Cute Baby!: Dalton's little moose outfit gets a lot of attention when he wears it. Usually, the comments we get are something along the lines of "that is the cutest thing I've ever seen!" Some people are able to articulate the cuteness a little better. At the zoo, I got accused of trying to take one of the animals home. On our walk the other day, someone asked if we'd been bear hunting. Just now, on my way back from the mailbox, the guy repairing a windshield next door said, "I thought you were carrying a teddy bear when you walked by and thought, 'that's weird...'"

I'm not sure it gets much cuter than a cute baby in a cute, fuzzy outfit.

[Comments] (3) Miss Popular: We walked into Sacrament Meeting on Sunday to a chorus of "Hi, Maggie!" from several of her little nursery friends.

Dalton is 4 months old today, which means Maggie is 35. T minus 28 days until she turns 3. She wants money for her college fund, an aquarium membership, and anything that gets used up (in particular, will be used up before we move to India). Ok, maybe she doesn't; if you ask her, she wants a blue present with a cow in it, an "O"s party [Cheerios], and a yellow cake with red frosting. Where does she get this stuff?? So, Mommy knows best, and what I know is that we have way too many toys as it is and she won't know the difference and we're taking advantage of that. We're giving her swimming lessons and some treats.

: This morning the kids and I met Jill and Camilla at Gardner Village. We had a good time looking in the shops, though I didn't buy anything other than a handful of taffy and a blackberry soda. It wasn't quite the adventure our last outing was, but we had great luck with the weather and Maggie enjoyed running around. She got a little grumpy (hungry) toward the end, but after a sandwich and some chocolate donut, she didn't want to leave.

Early Love Day: We are celebrating Valentine's Day early, cause we can. John got me Mulan and a "fancy, expensive" bath pouf. And a really cute Valentine. Brook and Erin (and Ember and Jazzy) watched the kids while we went to Training Table. And we had Coldstone cupcakes. I got John an Under Armour shirt that is reversible for running in both cold and warm weather. Maggie and Dalton got Robin Hood, which Maggie refused to watch at first, but is already loving. "I'm going to go find my arrow!" She really likes the snake.

Dalton gave me a present early too, and slept all night last night (unlike one of our other children...) In fact, he's slept most of the day away. He was awake and happily playing with Uncle Brook though.

Jodi came over last night and we scrapbooked and talked. I got 6 pages done, and finished two more today. It's nice to have sisters-in-law around since Rachel is so far away. And some company since John's been very busy.

[Comments] (2) Change in Attitude: I've had a little change in attitude this busy season that seems to be making life much easier to deal with. To sum it up, I am pleased when John comes home, instead of relieved. I just don't expect him home at all, rather than waiting and wondering when he will get home. I don't worry about dinner for him, get the kids ready for bed on my own timetable, instead of wondering if I should keep them up for him. Then I have the evening to myself if he doesn't get home, and the evening to spend with him if he does.

It's been very freeing. Of course, John actually didn't make it home any days last week, so perhaps if he shows up wanting dinner things will be different. My poor husband working crazy hours. I love you!

A Very Busy Day: Today was Maggie's first day of swimming lessons. She enjoyed swimming, but wouldn't let go of me, or kick or anything. Mostly she wanted to splash around in the 6" depth. This is why we started with parent-tot instead of the actual lessons.

After swimming, we went to Target and storytime at the library, then to Dalton's 4 month Happointment. He weighs 13 pounds, 10 ounces and was 25 1/4 inches long. He went down in percentiles, but nothing to be worried about.e is doing fabulous in all other aspects, such as sleeping, playing with toys, drooling, not crying, big smiles, and general adorableness.

We got home from the doctor with about 10 minutes to clean up the house and have a snack before piano lessons. Yikes. Also, Maggie has a little cold and is grumpy. Early bedtime tonight.

Just Keep Swimming: Little Maggie Girl has been sick. She was only up for a few hours yesterday, then went to bed around 4:45. We were worried she'd wake up in the middle of the night, but she slept right through until 7:30 this morning (unlike some people). She was feeling and acting much better, and I don't think she has anything chlorine won't kill, so we went to swimming lessons.

She did better this time, though she cried more. She released the grip her prehensile toes had on me and did a few kicks, and she was perfectly happy to blow bubbles in the water. So, almost imperceptible improvement, but it's there.

We came home and watched Finding Nemo.

[Comments] (3) Use It or Lose It: I have long held the notion that things should be used, not treasured or "saved". But recently, I've really been putting it into practice. A few days ago, I noticed a shirt I bought in Romania hanging in my closet. I hadn't worn it in years. As soon as I put it on, I remembered why. It had annoying tassels danging from the sleeves, and it is rather delicate, which means I probably hadn't washed it. Ever. So, I hacked off the tassels with my kitchen shears, and at the end of the day, threw it in its spat-up-on glory into the laundry basket. And you know what? It came out of the wash just fine. And now I have a shirt I like to wear.

Other examples: letting Maggie use my Thickers (gasp), and my nephews eat off my crystal dishes.

: Today was Maggie's last parent-tot swim lesson. She did really well and only cried once (all things are relative, right?) Monday she starts pre-level lessons. I'll be hiding out in the other room.

That's really the only things that's happened in the past few weeks. Maggie was sick. Dalton is sick. He hasn't been acting grumpy, luckily, but his poor little voice is gone. I have an infection and am achy, achy, achy. John is busy working. That's about it.

[Comments] (4) The Birthday Begins: Last night I decorated the kitchen and put out Maggie's presents to surprise her this morning. We decided to spread out the birthday celebration, since she is perfectly happy with just one present. We let her open one today. She got some car jammies that Daddy picked out. We went to Chuck E Cheese, and visited Grandma and Grandpa. More fun tomorrow!

[Comments] (2) Birthday Girl, Big Girl: My baby girl turned 3 today. Time flies and all that. We had a party with some friends this afternoon. She got a coloring book, a Berenstain Bears book, a birthday cake playset, some green eggs and ham, and a little stuffed elephant.

After piano, I took her to dinner at Burger King. I haven't been there in years, but they had a great $1 menu, and a playplace and it is very near our house. However, Maggie wasn't tall enough to climb up the playplace by herself. John had to work today, unfortunately, but came home in time for bedtime snuggles and the reading of a new book from Aunt Rachel.

[Comments] (4) Maggie Quote Round-Up: More movie quotes (including frequent requests to sing "Woody's Round-Up":
To abiabie! and beyond! (Toy Story: it's "infinity", though she denies it if I correct her)
Don't you EVER run away to me again! (Monster's Inc.)
This works! (holding up something to her eye. This is one of Flik's inventions from A Bug's Life.)

She loves going places like the bank and the post office. The other day when we went to the post office to mail a package for Rachel's and Edd's birthdays, she ran in, looked around and said, "Where's Aunt Rachel? Where's Edd?" Not only that, but apparently a "stamp" is not a cute ink mouse you get on your hand like at the library, and she got mad when I said I didn't need any. She was quite disillusioned.

Maggie: What's on yours back?
Mommy: I don't know, what is it? (thinking it's a sticker or something)
Maggie: *climbs on* It's a Maggie!

Also (yeah I fell for it twice)
Maggie: What's on yours nose?
Mommy: I don't know, what is it? (thinking it's marker or a smudge)
Maggie: Glasses!

Bummy toes! (wanting a "bummy tumble" (tummy bubble) on her toes)
I'm just standing on my bed. I'm not jumping on it. (She really was)
She wants there to be a monster under her bed, but when I told her the crocodile (in her Peter Pan coloring book) was going to eat Captain Hook, she went across the room to direct my coloring so it wouldn't eat her.

She says "adain" for again, and uses a "s" sound (more like "ts") for just about any double consonant: tr, dr, sh, etc. So truck=suck, dream=seam, treat=seat.

And best of all, in the car: Those people don't know how to drive!

Swimming School Dropout: I took Maggie out of swimming lessons. She wouldn't participate or obey the teacher, and was distracting to the other kids. It was a waste of time for everyone involved. We're going to do a couple private lessons instead, so she can have the teachers full attention, and be made to do stuff. At least I got nearly a full refund, because the private lessons are expensive!

Third Time is Silly:
Maggie: Mommy, what's on your chin?
Me: What is it?
Maggie: It's an elephant!

I went out to Coldstone and to see New Moon at the dollar theatre with some girls in the ward last night. Hard to believe I stayed awake through a 9:20 movie. It was really fun to spend time with friends and take a break from the kids.

We are staying home today, except for playing outside in the SUNSHINE. Lots of snuggling and reading to ensue.

Fancy Wishes: Last night John and I attended a gala/auction for the Make-a-Wish foundation of Utah's 25th anniversary. I was able to borrow a formal dress to wear and we had a lot of fun. It was at the Grand America, and people were dropping thousands of dollars on auction items. A glimpse of high society!

Mooove: We went to visit Grandma June today. Apparently it's been a while, because we don't have any pictures on the fridge anymore. Maggie built boats using the blocks, and Dalton rolled around on the floor and grabbed at Grandma's shoes. I took a couple piano books and played for Grandma. She loves that because it doesn't matter if she is hard of hearing, or can't see. She can just sit there and relax. Susan asked me to make a note of some of her favorite hymns, so I did, but she mostly likes the children's songs. Here are the ones that are "special": Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam, Scatter Sunshine, There is a Green Hill Far Away, Joseph Smith's First Prayer, and Little Purple Pansies.

Grandma June first told me about the Little Purple Pansies song about a year ago. I'd never heard of it and it took half an hour of looking through the book to find out what she was talking about. She says they used to sing it all the time and they don't anymore. Now I sing it to Maggie and she loves it.

After visiting with Grandma, we got gas and made a quick trip to the library. Driving home from the library, we got stuck in a traffic jam. I could see a few police cars on one side of the road, and cars were coming from the other direction, driving on the shoulder. I figured we were going around an accident scene... Nope. There was a cow sitting in the middle of the road. An officer was holding a rope around it's neck. Poor cow.

This is the same road I hit a squirrel on last summer. I did brake, but I expected it to run across the road, like a cat, not scamper beneath my tires. Oops.

[Comments] (2) : I took the kids to the Target portrait studio to have pictures taken today. They turned out So Cute. I can't wait to get them so John can see them live and in color and we can update our wall.

The other thing I did today was read Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. I can hardly put it down! I don't know how he manages to write 5 riveting storylines (or points of view, at least) at once. I am also impressed with the archeological, architectural and religious research that goes into his books.

At the moment, I am taking a break to fill out the kids' passport applications. Step 1.

In Perpetuity: With my "use it or lose it" philosophy in mind, I opened my trunk today. I have several boxes of stuff I'm "saving" from my mom's house, but most of it is old photos, and family history etc. The trunk is full of my own personal heirlooms. I opened it to get out some doll dishes for Maggie, but upon looking at them I decided she is too young. I have five sets, four of which are really tiny, and the fifth is pink depression glass and not 3 year old friendly. Next year.

I put the dishes back, but I did get out a few Piglet breakables that can go on Maggie's shelf, and a wooden turtle from Mexico. Also, a silver baby feeding set with my name engraved (all the better for feeding Dalton with), a grape salt and pepper shaker from my Grandma Rosie, and a baby sweater from England belonging to Leonard. All is not lost, Leonard! I still have your lederhosen.

[Comments] (1) You Know You're a Whitney When: I ran into my Aunt Sharon today - at the fabric store, of course!

[Comments] (1) : I love when Dalton takes good naps, especially since it means he sleeps better at night. This morning he slept through Jo-Ann (baby gifts!), Target (pictures!) and waiting in line for the Easter Bunny and woke up in time to eat lunch while Maggie was playing at the mall playground. The only unfortunate thing is that I didn't anticipate such a long nap and didn't bring the stroller, so I had to carry his carseat around the mall.

In the past I have counted the weeks until I get a "break" from teaching Primary, but this past Sunday I was already going over the next lesson when I realized I don't have to teach this week. Hurray! Must hide eggs instead.

[Comments] (2) Reading & Writing: Dalton is just like his sister - he loves books. Yum.

Maggie has been very interested in writing letters, particularly her name. She learned how to draw some letters from Winnie-the-Pooh ABCs, but unfortunately, they only teach P, R, O, and E. She is very good at those ones though.

Also, the kids' passports came today. One week, door-to-door. Perhaps we didn't need to spend as much in expediting fees as for the passports themselves?

Yay Internet: One of the things I love about the internet, is that it keeps me in touch with my family. Video chats with Rachel. Emailing Leonard silly questions. My blog was started over 10 years ago, so my mom could keep tabs on me after I went away to school. With facebook and blogs, I am closer to most of my cousins than I probably would be otherwise. I have some really cool cousins I would probably know nothing about if it weren't for the internet. Plus, it is so useful for setting up in-person visits!

Did I mention that my cousin Sarah came over and played with Maggie for almost 3 hours last week? Maggie about drowned in all the attention.

A Fishy Sort of Day: Today was Maggie's second (and last) private swimming lesson. She did so well! She only yelled a couple times, and ran over to me once. And we all had a good laugh when she climbed off my lap to get in the pool and had her swimming suit stuck in her bum.

The instructor says she could tell that she stays home - as in if she does go somewhere, it's with me. I remember when John and I were called to the nursery, we could see a difference between kids who's mothers worked and kids who had their moms with them 24/7 and consequently cried all through nursery. Now, Maggie is great in nursery, but this stay-at-home mom theory appears to apply to swimming as well. She said we just need to keep her exposed to swimming and situations where I'm not present and she'll do fine. Good thing our hotel in Bryce Canyon has a pool!

After her lesson, we went to the aquarium, which is nearby. They recently opened a new exhibit - penguins!! It is one of those exhibits with a glass wall next to the water, so you can see them diving and swimming. They were so playful. Maggie also got to touch a stingray again.

[Comments] (1) Sweet Boy at 6 Months: Naturally, I can't believe Dalton is already 6 months old. He is getting so big! And yet so small. He weighed in at just 14 pounds, 13 ounces, down to the 10%, but was up to 75% in height at 27". Tall and skinny, who'd have thought.

Dalton sits up very well, loves to chew on books, and thinks his big sister is hilarious. He is a happy-go-lucky boy, and perfectly content to sit and play with toys. He has a big smile that he shows off to anyone who gives him one, but he saves his biggest smiles for when Daddy gets home from work.

Dalton sleeps about 10 hours at night. Yay! He nurses 5 times a day, and eats one meal of baby food. He likes baby food, lean towards it and grabs the spoon, but hasn't figured out the opening his mouth part yet.

And his eyes change color every day. A sort of blue-hazely-green.

[Comments] (1) Bryce Canyon: We made it home last night from an awesome 4-day trip to Southern Utah. See John's rundown here.

On Wednesday we drove down in the rain/wind/hail/snow. The kids were great in the car, and Maggie was thrilled to see the red rock tunnels. A good sign. We stayed at Ruby's Inn, in the Lakeview lodge. The lake view was very nice, but considering the weather, we wish we'd stayed at the main lodge so we didn't have to brave the elements to go swimming.

After getting settled, we decided to continue as planned and hike to Mossy Cave. It is about 1 mile round trip to see the cave and the waterfall. We had all sorts of weather on the drive there, but luckily just a light snow during the actual hike. The hike was short with a few steep parts. The cave was really neat - water drips through cracks in the rock and forms ice stalactites 9 months of the year. You also cross a few bridges, which Maggie loved.

On the second day (Thursday), the weather wasn't supposed to be very good, but we learned in Yellowstone that it might not get any better, so go for it. We went into Bryce Canyon and hiked down into the amphitheater. We took the Queen's Garden trail down from Sunrise Point and the Navajo Loop trail back up to Sunset Point. We wanted to do the Wall Street, but it was closed due to rock slide. Maggie got really grumpy about halfway through the hike. We had to ascend steep switchbacks covered in several inches of clay-like mud, Maggie crying the whole way. You haven't heard crying until you've heard it amplified in a slot canyon. Dalton was a good sport and took a nap the first half, nursed for a bit (is nursing while hiking through mud in the snow weirder than the 405 incident?), and made it to the top before having his meltdown. He cried the last 1/2 mile along the rim back to the car. This was the longest hike we ended up doing, about 3 miles.

We went home for lunch and to rest, then drove back into the park to check out the visitor's center (we bought a postcard for Maggie's collection, and a Bryce Canyon puzzle that she latched onto as soon as we walked in) and see the other Bryce Amphitheater viewpoints, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Bryce Point was one of my favorite stops. Looking at the pictures of it, I am a little scared by how close Maggie is to the edge, but it seemed safe at the time.

The weather was supposed to be better on Friday, but it wasn't. Good thing we did our big hike on Thursday! It snowed and was cold, but worse, it was windy. We drove to the end of the park to do the 1 mile Bristlecone Loop. We bundled up and got out of the car and finally found the trail, buried under the snow. We weren't about to trudge through the snow at the canyon edge in our sneakers, so we just checked out the Rainbow viewpoints and got back in the car. We did the rest of the viewpoints on the way back by taking turns, and getting Maggie out about every other one. Dalton only got out once, when he was already out of his seat to eat. That was at the Natural Bridge, which was my favorite one. By the time we got home, the weather had us down. We went swimming with Maggie while Dalton had a nap. We were at the pool over an hour, and Dalton eventually woke up and got to swim for the first time.

After swimming, we decided to go for a drive. We checked out Bryce Lodge (not much to see, though Maggie enjoyed playing the drums in the gift shop), then drove East on Highway 12. We ended up in the Middle of Nowhere, aka Kodachrome Basin State Park (yes, named after Kodak, if you're wondering). The Lonely Planet guidebook we were using (thanks, Rach) made it sound like there wasn't much to see unless you did long hikes, but luckily it was wrong. We took a drive on a dirt road to see Chimney Rock (not worth it, there's one almost the same on the Nature Trail) and the Shakespeare Arch. The hike to Shakespeare Arch is short - about 10 minutes. It's a lot of up and down over little gullies and hills. The arch was pretty cool, but the view from the top of the plateau was the best.

The other trail we did in Kodachrome was the 1/2 mile Nature Trail. You can see lots of different rock formations on this trail - the tall sentinels, hoodoos, holes in the rock, you pass over a little stream. There are also informative signs about plants and animals that are nearby. John took Maggie around the trail, which is paved and wheelchair accessible, while I fed Dalton, then we went again. Maggie walked the whole way both times.

Since we arrived at the park around 5:30, we didn't have much time, but I wanted to do the Angel's Landing hike. It looks like it's about a mile, and climbs up to a plateau/sand fin with a great view.

Saturday, we checked out and headed to Red Canyon. Bryce had disappointed us (we'd also planned on doing a hike in Fairyland, which was closed due to snow). Red Canyon is part of Dixie National Forest, and it was on Highway 12 right on our way home. We did two of the hikes suggested in our guidebook - the Pink Ledges trail and the Arches trail. Maggie did most of the 1 mile Pink Ledges trail on her own. It winds around the canyon behind the Visitor's Center, with views of the valley, pink ledges, totems, hoodoos, etc. We also had an interpretive pamphlet that went along with the numbers on the trail. The Visitor's Center had some fun exhibits, including a table full of rocks for Maggie to play with.

The Arches trail is a few miles from the Visitor's Center, off a gravel road and is about 3/4 mile. It is pretty steep in parts. You see 15 small arches along the way. Saturday was such a nice day, we were finally able to have our picnic lunch as planned.

After we left Red Canyon Dalton cried himself to sleep and slept almost the entire way home. We decided to cruise on Highway 89 for a while instead of heading back to the Interstate. We stopped at Big Rock Candy Mountain (much more lame than I remember) and Cove Fort along the way. Maggie enjoyed climbing up the stairs at the fort.

Some of my favorite moments of the trip were listening to Maggie talking to herself in the backseat. She played with two of her My Little Ponies, telling them about Bryce Canyon and hiking etc. John and I would share a smile every time we heard her. Maggie girl loves hiking and had a great trip overall. She called our hotel room a cabin, and started saying, "I could not, would not" instead of "Never!"

HVRX and Maggieisms: Last night my aunt Sharon called and invited us to go on a homeschool field trip to the Heber Valley Railroad. We had to drive up there in a snowstorm, the railroad car wasn't heated, and we had to drag a crying Maggie onto the train, but other than that it was great! Maggie loved it, and got to meet the conductor. Also, since we were in the last car, we got to watch the engine back up and hook on when we turned around. Have I mentioned lately that Maggie thinks my cousin Sarah is awesome? Also, they have puppies at their house.

Maggie mixes up her prepositions. I made her some chocolate milk the other day.
Maggie: I need a new straw for Aunt Rachel. ... Mommy, I spilled! I hold it to two hands.

When playing with her cousins, she tends to call her daddy "Uncle John."

Pretend = "for a tend" as in "Just eat it for a tend."

Impossible = "a pasta bowl", and she uses it whenever she doesn't want to do something.

Mommy: Why is there toilet paper all over the floor?
Maggie: It's Easter eggs.
Mommy: Oh, well let's go find them.
Maggie: *Pretends to look* There's one! Here's one!
Mommy: Hey, I found too little ones! Let's go put them in our basket (ie. the trash can).

I'm Not Going!: Our trip to Bryce Canyon marks the occasion of Maggie figuring out this road trip tradition. We'd tried it before, with cute variations.

Dad, while driving over a bridge: I'm not go-ing!
Leonard, Susanna, and Rachel from the backseat: Oh, yes you a-re!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: I'm not go-ing!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: You're not go-ing!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: You are going.

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: Oh, yes you is!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: Oh, yes you a-re!

Utah Museum of Natural History: The first Monday of the month is a free day at the Utah Museum of Natural History, so I took the kids today. When we got there, Maggie insisted on seeing "ladybugs and bees". Lucky for me, they had a live insect exhibit. After that, she warmed up to the idea of digging for dinosaur bones, and we spent an hour in the hands-on dinosaur exhibit. She enjoyed digging, doing puzzles and climbing on a faux femur, which she insisted was a slide, but the horizontal position led me to believe was a bench.

By the way, you can park at any metered parking in the President's Circle, and get a pass from the museum.

After a snack-picnic on the grass, we picked John up at work (we sold his car to Jamie and now we are sharing!) and took him to the airport. A sad, but busy, 3 days till we see him again.

: A while ago I posted some pictures of Maggie, Colette, and Madeline, all wearing basically the same thing. Today I found the picture of Me, Jill, and Rachel I was reminded of. Here it is.

On the Move: My little boy is growing up. He has learned to get around, at least enough to get what he wants. He can scoot on the hardwood floor by grabbing on to something and pulling himself. He can rotate himself on his stomach in all directions. He can roll. And he can pull himself to sitting from his stomach. I put up a video of him babbling (and Maggie trying to steal the spotlight) and one of him working on crawling.

Also, Leonard is visiting. Pictures of related fun coming soon.

Leonard's Visit: Our short visit with Uncle Leonard has come and gone. We had a great time, Maggie especially. Leonard made delicious food for us and we did some fun activities. We drove down to Provo and met Jill at the Bean Life Science (ie. taxidermy) Museum. Then we walked over to the BYU Creamery and had ice cream. Afterward, we visited the Provo Cemetery and went to Zupas. We also went to The Living Planet Aquarium.

Maggie really enjoyed doing puzzles with Leonard. He taught her the names of the dinosaurs on her dinosaur puzzle. Also, he brought her some postcards from New York, and she wanted them on her bulletin board. Dalton enjoyed the extra attention, and especially liked being lifted in the air.

Thanks for visiting, Uncle Leonard!

Big Sister: This morning Dalton woke up just after 7. Since that is too early, I usually let him babble in his crib until Maggie wakes up. A little while later I heard Maggie talking. Then I could hear her say, "We're going to Grandma Papa's cabin and I-a run! I love to go to the cabin!" over and over. Maggie doesn't usually talk to herself quite so loud and Dalton stopped fussing, so I wondered if John wasn't leaving for work until 7:30. I got up, washed my face and got dressed, then I went to get see what was up. Maggie had climbed into Dalton's crib and was telling him all about the cabin and he was quite enthralled with her description.

[Comments] (1) Camp In: We went to the cabin and stayed the night with some friends. It snowed (!) but we still had a great time. Maggie fell asleep in the car on the way home. When I tried to get her out of her seat, she pushed me away and said, "No, Colette!"

She calls me "Mommy Sue" now.

John posted this on his blog, but it bears repeating:
Maggie: Who's at the door?
John: It's nobody.
Maggie: It's yes-body.

[Comments] (1) Temple Square: The kids and I met Jill at Temple Square today. Even though we've been there many times, today we did stuff we'd never done before. We went on a tour of the gardens, ate at the Lion House Pantry, and went up to the 26th floor observation deck in the Church office building. Then we peeked into the Tabernacle, saw the Christus, and went on a tour of the Conference Center. We didn't quite do everything we wanted to, but Jill offered to take the kids to the Church History/Art Museum during Brynn's sealing next week.

We had 2 inches of snow on the ground yesterday morning, but today was 70 and my arms got sunburned.

Getting Ready: Yesterday I went to the ward playgroup. Someone asked me if I'd started packing yet and I said, "..." Visas or no visas, we are moving out of our house 3 weeks from tomorrow. So, we started packing today. John packed our books and rearranged the storage areas we'll be using. I packed our crystal and sorted through lots of stuff. We have a big DI pile, and listed some things on KSL as well.

I am also going to get rid of a lot of my scrapbooking stuff. During previous purges I've gotten rid of things I would never use. Now I will only be keeping things I will definitely use. But first I have to scrapbook the 75 pictures I got in the mail today. Heh.

M on the Mountain: We hiked the Y this weekend. Maggie is obsessed with the letters on the mountain, so we thought this would be a fun activity. However, we got up there and she kept wanting to go see the Y! The pile of white-washed cement hardly looks Y-shaped up close, I guess. It's very big, and it's a very hard and steep hike.

Afterward we went to the Provo Cemetary to visit my parents' and grandparent's graves. We also took Grandma June to the Lehi and American Fork cemeteries on Saturday. She kept raving about how wonderful John was because he brought a cushioned folding chair for her to sit on, and fountain grass to plant, and I think it helped that she had a baby snuggled in a big warm blanket on her lap (it was windy and cold).

Sunday after church we went up to the cabin. Today was our clean-up day. Ember, Maggie, Dalton and I swept the road, and I picked up a lot of wood. John did his usual scavenger hunt for the kids. Good to know those scarecrow owls are good for something. (Sorry, I'm on the birds' side.)

: I think Dalton may have finally learned to drink from a sippy cup today. But if not, the morning wasn't a total loss: Maggie taught him how to give five.

Maggie: Aunt Jamie lives fara, fara way.

Maggie: Daddy take it into a part. (took it apart)

Busy week. Brynn got married, Maggie and I got sick, and we went to the zoo yesterday. Also: packing. And more packing. And laundry.

[Comments] (3) Messy, Scrappy, Crawly, Packy: Just an update on general things. This blog post will probably reflect the chaos in my home and life right now.

Monday was the free day at the Utah Museum of Natural History. Maggie got to go with Colette this time. I didn't have a ton of fun because Maggie was being ornery and I was being short on patience. We left because she was trying to climb into an exhibit. Also, I purposely didn't bring my camera so I wouldn't feel like I had to post pictures on my picture blog. So sorry to all you people who only look at that blog (guess they wouldn't be reading this). I have too much going on.

Today I focused on getting some sewing projects out of the way. I used up a lot of fabric scraps. I also finished going through my scrapbooking stuff and posted some stuff to sell and give away. Hopefully that stuff is out of my life soon. I have been scrapbooking like mad over the past week, trying to finish the pictures I printed so those can all be put away. I'll be done soon.

We are at that point in packing where we've pretty much packed everything not in use. Most of the house is pretty bare, except for the storage room, and, by extension, the office/craft room. Which is where we spend most of our inside time, now that it's hot. I fished a piece of felt out of Dalton's mouth today. Twice.

As for kid updates, I have two big ones: Dalton is CRAWLING. When Maggie started crawling, she scooted forward a bit, and just did that for a while. Dalton all of a sudden started crawling on Saturday, and he just took off. It is so cute to hear the pitter patter of little knees around the house.

As for Maggie: the girl can do 100 piece puzzles (or at least the one we have).

[Comments] (1) A Useful Skill for Fixing Things With: This week I found myself using my sewing skills for lots of useful things. I made a "leash" for Maggie (so no one snatches my darling child in the big city), sewed straps onto the sunhat Alyson sent for Dalton (thanks!), mended my skirt, finished my baby sling etc. All for the cost of $1.37 for a package of sew-on snaps and $6 for the sling (which saved me about $30). I love when I need something fixed and I go and fix it. I still need to make cases for our new camera and laptop.

I got a jury duty notice today. I think I have a good excuse.

Moving Out,. Moving On: We've had a busy few days! We moved out of our house yesterday. Brook put a lock on our storage room door, Erin cleaned all the bathrooms, Ember cleaned and played with the kids, and Logan did everything I asked him to without complaining. Franco also came over and helped John and Brook fit an amazing amount of furniture under the stairs and did lots of cleaning. Thanks to everyone's help, we were out of there in the afternoon.

This morning we went to IHOP for Father's Day and went hiking. We went to Donut Falls. Then we decided to go to Silver Lake and let Maggie walk on her own. It was a warm day, but up the canyon the weather was perfect.

So, now we're officially living with John's parents. Jodi is over, in the glow of her 40th week of pregnancy. Hopefully, we will get to see a new baby before we leave! And we're hoping in a baby-coming way, not an India-delaying way.

A is for Popsicle: The other day I thought I heard Maggie say, "Do you see a small opening?" Kind of an odd thing for a three year old to ask. The third time she said it, I realized it was probably from a show, and finally remembered it from Finding Nemo.

Me, Reading My Gospel ABCs: A is for Apostle.
Maggie: A is for a popsapicle.
Me: Hee! Tell Aunt Rachel what A is for.
Rachel: A4? It's like regular paper, but a little longer and skinnier.
Me: Are you talking to me?

Thanksgiving Point for 25 cents: I went to Tasha's today (after Dalton's doctor appointment, but before Walmart, Old Navy, and Target). We were going to walk to Thanksgiving Point, but it was so hot and the babies slept so late, we decided just to drive. We got the kids free ice cream cones, and the 25 cent ice cream cones for ourselves. Then we walked through the mini gardens to the farm. We checked out the farm from the parking lot, and walked back up to the (air-conditioned) dinosaur museum. They have several different dinosaur fossils in the lobby, including a Triceratops, one of the ones Maggie can name.

Little Big Boy: Dalton had his early 9 month well visit on Thursday. He also got two of his 12 month immunizations early. He is 28" long (60%), 16 lb 11 oz (5%) and 44 cm head circumference (20%). Skinny and tall. Still. I had Maggie weighed as well, as I plan to use Benadryl to knock my kids out on the airplane. She is 28.6 pounds.

Today Dalton started pulling himself to standing. Just like with crawling, he suddenly started doing it and hasn't stopped since. He first did it in the shopping cart at Target, then practiced on me and on Grandma's coffee table.

Busy but Slow: The answer is NO we do not have our visas and we're tired of telling everyone, so we've been escaping. We went up to the cabin last night. Yesterday we drove on a horrible dirt road up to Silver Lake and walked around it. Today we hiked Little Deer Creek Trail, then went to Cascade Springs.

Tomorrow we are heading to Dinosaur National Monument for a couple days. Last minute road trip! We were talking about how much more hiking we could do without our kids. At least we found a way to be spontaneous still.

And did I mention we have an adorable new niece?

He's Teething!: Teething became a joke to us about the 15th time we thought Maggie was finally getting some teeth. She ended up waiting until 13 months to cut her first. But Dalton just got his first yesterday! Teething doesn't seem so bad when you aren't expecting it around every corner. Actually, I was thinking this might be more of an indicator of how much less fussy he is than Maggie was. She was always crying for no reason and we wanted to blame teething.

[Comments] (1) Kid Updates: Dalton: has two teeth on the bottom; pulled up in his crib for the first time yesterday (pack-n-play, with nothing to grab onto); stumbles along while pushing a stool (does that count as cruising?); is generally adorable. He eats just about anything I put in front of him, has the sweetest smile. He causes more trouble than Maggie did - tries to climb up and down the stairs, gets into everything, and he LOVES to chew on electrical cords. Eye color still TBD.

Maggie: Says "piet" for "quiet", "banquet" for "blanket", "pack" for "quack", "now" instead of "then" or "next", "last night" for anything that happened in the past ("remember I did [cute thing] last night?") and "bis a minute" (which you can hear in the video of Dalton walking behind the stool.

Park City Fun: This weekend we went for a quick getaway to Park City. We stayed at Uncle Justin's condo. We spent $16 swimming at the Racquet Club pool. We had to drag Maggie into the pool... and out again when we left. I took Dalton on the water slide first so she would see it wasn't scary. Dalton isn't afraid of water, or getting his face wet or anything. But I forgot until we got up there that he doesn't like slides! He was fine though, and the kids had a good time.

On Saturday we bought lift tickets at The Canyons. We took the gondola up, then the ski lift. The Canyons doesn't have the same qualms as the Park City resort about kids under 2 on the lift. We ate bread, cheese and fruit for lunch and did some hiking. We did more hiking than we intended, because apparently you can't take the lift back down.

[Comments] (2) John Turns 30: John turned 30 this week! We celebrated by going out to Training Table by ourselves, and getting Zupas for dinner with his parents and Brook and Ember. I made coconut cupcakes. On Friday night, we did sparklers and poppers with Maggie. Saturday we went to Wheeler Farm, and then up to the cabin for a party with a lot of the Chadwicks. I really don't know anyone on the Chadwick side (John barely does) so that was kind of fun to meet some of them. We spent last night at the cabin and went hiking today. This is the first time in years that we've done our hike with no pouring rain or awful mud.

[Comments] (2) Baby Talk: Happy Anniversary to us! We went to breakfast at Market Street Grill in downtown SLC. It was delicious and a great deal.

This post is really about Dalton, though. I have been teaching him some baby sign language. He has learned "eat" "more" and "all done". I've shown him a few others like "milk" "cat" and "alligator" (for stuffed animal he chews on when he falls asleep), but he is still learning the difference between "eat" and "more". He was babbling to himself in the car with his hands, and Ember asked what his signs meant.

Dalton loves animals. He gets so excited when he sees a dog or a cat. He looks eagerly and grunts at them. We went over to Brook and Erin's house last night to get Ember, and he followed Jazzy around. He will learn those signs quickly, I think!

[Comments] (1) Downtown SLC: Today we had a fun (and free!) day in downtown Salt Lake City. First we went to the Salt Lake Art Center to see Contemporary Masters. Yes, we played mini golf on art. For free. Some the holes were really interesting, and some were downright impossible.

Next, we walked to the Gallivan Center, which wasn't really interesting to see. Dalton fell asleep in the stroller, a sheer miracle. We walked down to Temple Square and ate lunch at the Nauvoo Cafe. We peeked in the South Visitor's Center, then hopped back on TRAX. We went to the Gateway and visited the Planetarium. The kids walked on the moon and Mars! Well, Dalton crawled and rock-climbed. Then we put on Maggie's swimming suit and let her play in the fountain.

We got Orange Julius and walked back to our car. Then we drove around Federal Heights trying to find the U. Apparently you can drive right up to it. They don't make you work for it like the Y does. Still, Maggie enjoyed seeing it.

We had a great time, got some exercise and fresh air (luckily, it wasn't too hot today) and saw lots of sights. And everything was free, except for the food!

[Comments] (2) Maggie in the Sky with Pluto: While browsing the children's non-fiction section of the library for dinosaur books, Maggie saw one about planets. It appeared to be the only space book remotely at her level, so we got it. While reading this morning, she says, "Let's buy me some rings so I can go up in the sky like Saturn." Dream on, little girl. The dino obsession continues to be in full swing. "Mom, where's my parasaurolophus?"

Poor John is very ill. He has an ear infection that gave him vertigo which made him nauseous which made him throw up so much he got dehydrated and his muscles seized up. I took him to instacare and they gave him an IV and prescriptions for anti-nausea and anti-dizziness. He is slowly recovering. They said it could be 2 weeks.

Glorious Things are Sung of Zion: Tomorrow we are heading on another many-expenses-paid trip to California. We are spending two nights in southern Utah to visit Zion National Park. We're looking forward to hiking and seeing bridges designed and built by my great-grandfather Lewis Jotham Whitney. With John's vertigo and our child-carrying off-balance, we will be avoiding all hikes labeled "steep drop".

Next week, John will be working, and I will be taking the kids to Disneyland and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Hopefully it doesn't pour rain like it did during our last visit to California. I am trying to decide which will be more difficult: Infant Dalton who sleeps in his carseat in the stroller, and really a lot of rain; or Crazy Dalton who sleeps pretty much only in his crib, and tries to leap out of my arms, but nice weather. And probably tons more people. Chances are good that I won't be breastfeeding on the freeway during this trip at least.

Maggie tells me we are going on all the rides she doesn't like (or remember) "just on one time" and rides like Winnie-the-Pooh "we're going just on lot of times." She intends to ride Gadget's Go-Coaster by herself. That's the only ride Dalton is too small for that she can ride alone.

Did I mention Dalton leaping out of arms, baby slings, and grocery carts? Mer.

[Comments] (1) Not Zion: Our trip south is well underway. We drove to Southern Utah on Friday and stopped at Kolob Canyon (part of Zion National Park) on the way. It is a short scenic drive, with a short scenic hike at the end.

Saturday morning we were up early to beat the crowds and the heat. We took the shuttle bus (required but awesome) to the end of the canyon where we did the 2 mile Riverwalk hike along the Virgin River until the canyon narrows so much the river fills it. John and Maggie continued barefoot into the river a ways, their favorite part of the day. Dalton’s favorite part of the day was also on this hike – rock squirrels. He loves animals and squealed with delight – and lunged – every time saw one, which was quite often. We also saw four deer and some tiny Zion snails on the damp cliff walls.

Our next hike was short and steep to Weeping Rock. To shelter under the rock overhang we had to sneak under fat drops of water falling from above. Water seeping through the sandstone has been found as old as 4,000 years. That’s how long it took it to seep through. How do they know how old water is?

The last hike we did in Zion was to Lower Emerald Pool. The pool was somewhat disappointing, but this 1 mile trail was my favorite and Dalton took a nap in his sling.

Our next stop was the Human History Museum. Dalton got to crawl around finally, and Maggie was made a Little Junior Ranger. I was very pleased watching her interact with a non-family member adult. She really knew her stuff about the plants and animals we’d seen and the rules about what not to do in the park. She did get one question wrong (depending on your point of view): When the Ranger asked where she was from, Maggie looked at her for a moment then said, “Gramma Papa’s house.”

We made it back to the Visitor’s Center where we bought Dalton a Junior Ranger hat. I lost his hat on one of our hikes, but the fact is, he wouldn’t wear it anyway. The Jr. Ranger hat is much more difficult to remove.

We drove the Zion-Mt. Carmel highway, including the Pine Creek Bridge built by my great-grandfather Lewis Jotham Whitney, and the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. There was construction so the tunnel wasn’t the only 1-way road we had to wait at, but it was a beautiful drive. We even came across a herd of bighorn sheep climbing the rocks at one of our waits. The red and white marbled scenery dotted with blue-green shrubs made me think of Mars.

We drove back to our hotel through LaVerkin, which boasts the best tasting water. Picky-water Me was surprised to discover that the water out of the hotel sink was actually really good!

We went swimming both nights. Dalton loves the water as always, and Maggie surprised us by jumping right in, splashing, kicking and blowing bubbles with her face in the water.

On Sunday, we left the hotel at 8:30 am – 7:30 am in NV and CA. So we decided to stop at Snow Canyon State Park northwest of St. George. We did 2 short, rock scrambly hikes on the East (shady) side of the canyon, Jenny’s Canyon and Pioneer Names. We also stopped at the outlets in Primm, but all we bought was a smoothie.

We made it to California safe. We’re staying at a fancy hotel. Disneyland tomorrow. I how many compliments our kids get on vacation. Dalton made friends with busloads of people at a time with his friendly smile and wave. He is a real charmer.

Title refers to Brigham Young's opinion of Zion Canyon.

[Comments] (1) A Running Start: Well, two days of Disneyland with the kids and I am Worn Out. I guess I was kidding myself in my comparison to our last visit when I mentioned Dalton leaping out of my arms and nice weather. Dalton has done plenty of leaping, but the weather is record-breaking high temperatures. Maggie and I drank 6 bottles of water the first day. I've given to letting Dalton crawl around, when possible, and he's been rewarded with little sores on the tops of his big toes. He also discovered that the doors to the little cabin on the Story Book Canal Boats open, and tried to swim toward a bobbley bird in "it's a small world". He is my number one compliment-getter though (stroller comes in second place). Everyone loves him, and no one has complained when he grabbed an arm, or even pulled hair. He is just so friendly and gives everyone a big smile.

Dalton loves just about everything, but he particularly enjoyed the Ferris wheel and it's a small world. Maggie LOVED the Playhouse Disney show, and of course Winnie-the-Pooh. She still says we are only going on the scary rides once and the "happy rides on lot of times." Even after two whole days, we've barely had time to go on anything twice, so we're still working on that. The dark parts scare her, even on the Nemo submarines, and she did NOT like the Haunted Mansion.

My feet hurt so we're taking a Disney break tomorrow. John is taking the morning off and we're going to the beach. Then I am doing laundry and taking the kids to the Aquarium of the Pacific.

[Comments] (3) And Baby Makes 2: A rash broke out all over Dalton today - just a year after Maggie got roseola. That virus sure is tricksy - Fever, crying, loss of appetite, baby gets better, then, "aha!" a rash. So that's what it was all about.

I think he might have also had a febrile seizure. Our first night in California, he fell off the bed, then passed out. He was limp, non-responsive and his eyes rolled into his head. We called 911, but he came around and started acting ok. That was right before he got sick.

[Comments] (1) Weekend Update: Today was the first Labor Day John hasn't had to work since he graduated. We took the kids swimming at the rec center and had such a good time that we bought a 3 month pass! (Since we're apparently going to be here that long.) They had a water slide and a play place. Maggie has decided to not be frightened of the water, and will even let me dunk her a bit while she blows bubbles. Dalton loves the water, but was freezing the whole time.

When we got back Dalton (who is sick again) took a 3 hour nap and we all just rested. Then we went for a walk, got dinner at Noodles & Company and ate it at Murray Park. It was such a beautiful day today.

I want for nothing: My birthday is just a week away and I'm having a hard time thinking of something I need/want that can be gift wrapped. So here's my wishlist. I would be pretty enthused to open a gift that's really for the kids. Otherwise, I'd like a nice dinner from Cafe Rio, Zupas, The Cheesecake Factory, or any of those same old places. So Exciting! Seriously, just buy the kids something (or donate to their college funds).

Like Mother, Like Daughter: In the past week I managed to sew my finger and electrocute myself.

[Comments] (1) : 29th Birthday; 30th Anniversary Cheesecake. Coincidence? Maybe, but delicious none-the-less. Happy September 15th!

Birthday Fun: John took a couple days off for my birthday - a luxury I get for having a birthday right after 9/15. On Thursday we went to the Utah State Fair. We saw lots of animals - even got to feed peanuts to the goats - saw a sea lion show, went on the giant slide, and took the kids through the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit, where they did lots of pretend chores, sold their goods at the market, and took their money to the grocery store for non-pretend treats.

Saturday morning we went to the cabin with Tyler and Tasha. We went for a hike under the beautiful fall leaves and had marshmallows and tin foil dinners on the bonfire. We had a great time!

Writers: I realized last night that my mom's kids have all ended up with writing jobs. Is that ironic? Rachel is more literary than Leonard or I, but here we are. Leonard writes software, textbooks, and science fiction. Rachel works in children's books. And, you may not have noticed, but my job with Mommysavers is mostly article writing and I love it.

[Comments] (1) : One of Maggie's long-harbored (1 day) wishes just came true. Uncle Dave showed her the button to turn on the lights of his patrol car - and let her push it!

Dalt: Maggie has started calling Dalton "Dalt". He is such a big boy! Just two weeks until he turns one. This week he learned how to climb down the stairs backwards. He practices it constantly. He also likes to climb up on Maggie's stroller seat and back down.

He can say two words: Dada (Daddy, Doggie) and Mama (Mommy) or Ma (Grandma, More). He also says something that approximates his name - Dat-uh - but he may be saying That. He learned four new signs this week: Dog, Cheese, Sleep, and Baby. He can also say Eat, Water (which he first signed in the pool), More, All Done, Alligator, and Milk/Nurse.

Maggie's learned lots of new signs lately too - all the ones I am teaching Dalton. Bath, Airplane, Bug, Train, Car, Dinosaur, Outside, and Bread.

Dalton is cruising like a pro and standing alone for a moment, but won't be walking for a little while still.

[Comments] (2) : The other night I had a dream that Rachel came for a visit and when I picked her up at the train station, she'd brought Grandma Rosie for a surprise visit. Grandma smiled, but didn't say anything during the visit, which I think involved shopping and dinner at a nice restaurant.

[Comments] (1) What are we going to do with him?: Dalton had another fun trip to the ER today. He fell down a stair or two in the sunroom and passed out again. Since it wasn't a big bump, I knew something else was going on. This time I knew what questions they would ask and I paid good attention to what he did. I was rewarded with an actual answer from the ER doc.

But first I screamed and called 911. I decided that this time they were coming whether they liked it or not. And come they did. I'm not at all surprised that Susan heard the news first from neighbors when she got home. The police, ambulance, fire truck and 15 EMTs were at the house.

John had the car - and the carseats - and was on his way to a job interview in Provo. Ack! Luckily Franco had the day off work and even had a Dalton-sized car seat. The funniest part of the story is that when Franco got out of the car and was bringing the carseat in, one of the guys took it to put it in the ambulance not realizing Kyli was still in it!

After a few minutes lying in my arms and looking really pale, Dalton starting acting fine and was standing on the couch waving by the time the fire truck pulled up. The ambulance had a Maggie-sized car seat that folded down out of the seat. She really enjoyed the ride. Dalton had refused to take a morning nap and was now missing his lunch so he wasn't in as good a mood. They strapped the carseat onto the gurney for him. John swung by on his way and traded cars with Franco so he could come get us when we finished.

So, Maggie, Dalton and I got to ride in an ambulance for the first time. The diagnosis is pallid breath-holding spells, an instinctive reaction to pain, fear, anger etc that he should outgrow by age 2. The doctor said my clear description of his reaction made it easy to diagnose.

Franco ended up having to drive Brook and Erin to the airport last minute and then brought Ember to pick us up at the hospital. We got all four kids in the car and got home before John did. Dalton and Kyli looked so cute sleeping in each others car seats. Pictures here.

Thanks to John for stopping by on the way to his job interview, and to Franco for basically wasting his afternoon for us - including dropping everything to answer my incoherent phone call.

Sumana, you'll be glad to know that I got a privacy practice notice from the fire department.

[Comments] (4) Conversations:
Maggie: *examines her bib*
Me: Aunt Sharon made that bib. Jill's mommy. She made it when you were born.
Maggie: What happened to her?
Me: Nothing.
Maggie: Did she die?
Me: No.
Maggie: Did your mommy die? Your mommy named Grandma die?
Me: Yes, she did.
Maggie: I don't want her to die!
Me: Me neither!
Maggie: *starts pretending to cry*

Also, I watched the first 20 minutes of General Conference with her on my lap. Later in the day she suggested, "Let's watch the Prophet Show."

[Comments] (1) Tiny Towheaded Trouble Maker: Baby Boy turned one this past weekend. So big! And by "so big" I mean "so little". His well-baby visit was Tuesday and he has gained half a pound in 3 1/2 months. He is not even on the chart. He's been sick for the past six weeks (roseola, 2 colds, a stomach bug, and now another cold), and not eating well, plus he is so crazy-active that he burns off whatever he does eat. Anyway, he is 30" and 17 lbs 3 oz.

I posted recently some of the sign language words Dalton has learned. He uses "nurse" all the time (sigh), but his real favorite word is "dog". That boy loves animals so much! He uses it for Princess (the cat) and he also used it the other day while pointing at a picture of a horse.

He has started to show interest in walking, and took his first few steps on Monday. It will be a while yet. I can't wait - hopefully his hands will stay cleaner and he won't be constantly getting sick. Plus, it may slow him down temporarily. I can barely keep up. I took all three kids (I care for my 3 month old niece, Kyli, most days) to the library today and it was our best visit since Dalton started crawling. I buckled him into the stroller and left him there the whole time! He only managed to pull 2 books off the shelf.

For Dalton's birthday we had two mini-parties with his grandparents. Ice cream and Halloween Peeps. Dalton thought it was so silly to see all of us singing. On his birthday, we went to Park City to buy hiking shoes. We had a little picnic, but it was chilly, and we were all still recovering from the stomach bug we had last week. We also decorated pumpkins with finger paint. We've never used finger paint before, so the kids found it pretty fascinating.

: Last weekend, John and I each bought hiking shoes, so we made plans to try them out today. John picked Lake Mary up Big Cottonwood canyon, so we headed up after breakfast. Today was a really beautiful day. Various events had me headed down the trail to look at the map again at the same time a family was heading up behind us. I asked the man if he knew which way Lake Mary was, and as soon as he started speaking, I realized it was President Uchtdorf! Of all the people to meet on a hike, I sure wasn't expecting that. We told Maggie he was a prophet, which interested her, but if you ask who she met on the hike, she will say "a chipmunk."

This was a really great hike. It was moderate, 1 mile to the lake, and the lake was really cool. It was in a rock basin, with rock islands throughout, except it was mostly empty. No life in the lake at all, except some tree stumps at the bottom, so somewhat otherworldly. With the fall leaves and the rocks jutting out everywhere (Rocky Mountains, you know), it was very scenic.

Maggieisms: Lots more silly stuff Maggie has been saying lately. She calls the remote "the camote", she still says "wi-bit" instead of "a little bit" and she has started making up her own signs for things stating, "this is Mr. Potato Head" or "This is chair". She also pointed out that the colors on the candy corn skirts are not in the correct order (I knew they were wrong at the time, but I had more orange fabric).

Daddy: Who loves you?
Maggie: Mommy.
Daddy: Does Daddy love you?
Maggie: Yes.
Daddy: Who loves you more?
Maggie: Collette.

Jill came over on Friday and we made decorative bat pillows for Halloween.
Maggie: Aunt Jill, what are you going to be for Halloween?
Jill: I'm going to be a witch.
Me: She just called you Aunt Jill
Jill: That's ok. It's going to be a long time before I hear that again.

The example above illustrates one of Maggie's recent obsessions - asking people what they're going to be for Halloween. She has temporarily set that aside for making Aunt Erin a pretend birthday cake (chocolate, with a candle), but now that the birthday party is over, I have a feeling the Halloween costuming will resume.

And Then He Was One: First, check out the videos I posted of Dalton during the past week. He walks! He laughs! He plays peek-a-boo! It's pretty cute.

John has been gone teaching new hires this entire week. Since he left, Dalton: started drinking whole milk; took real first steps; cut a new tooth (we're up to three now - and one more on the way); passed out again; and signed "please" for the first time. That's our boy.

Jurassic Halloween: We've had two full days of Halloween festivities and we are worn out. The buckets of candy on the table are evidence of our busy activities. Yes, Halloween isn't until tomorrow, but this is Utah (Halloween on a Sunday?) and also we're taking family pictures.

We carved pumpkins on Thursday. Yesterday, John took the day off. I was still watching Kyli, so we didn't do a whole lot, but we did take Ember with Jodi and Kyli to their ward party. Maggie had a great time playing a couple games they had set up.

Today we went to visit Grandma June. I took the costumes so she could see the kids all dressed up. After Dalton took a nap, we went to the ward party. It was raining, so instead of trunk or treat, they lined up buckets of candy on some folding tables and the kids just went down the line and helped themselves.

After the party, we met up with Franco, Jodi, and Kyli and the mall. Trick-or-treating at the mall was pretty lame. It was crowded, since people were actually shopping, and the candy wasn't good and lots of stores said they were out (or never had any to begin with). Also, Franco stole the show! He was dressed as Rafiki, Kyli was a little Simba, and Jodi was Pumba. I helped make their costumes and they turned out great!.

We trick-or-treated up and down the street in the rain. Maggie loved it. She ran away from each door, amazed at the free candy that had been plopped in her basket. The kids also got fruit snacks, stickers, tatoos, and pretzels. Oh, and glow bracelets - we're totally handing those out next year.

Walkin' and Talkin': Dalton has just, in the past few hours, started walking everywhere he goes. Or trying at least. He is amazing! Waddle waddle waddle. And speaking of waddling, we went to the farm today. We went yesterday to take some family pictures, and Dalton started saying "quack" and "honk" and "moo". So, I took the kids back today and he is such a cute little animal noise maker.

Word from the Wise: "You's not an elephant," Maggie just said to me. Indeed.

[Comments] (2) On Our Way Soon: It's true. We are finally on our way to India. I can hardly believe it, but now that the flights are booked, I have to. I even started packing up today. I packed a box of newly-acquired Halloween items and was pleased to realize that I had made all but one of them! 5 Halloween costumes, a bat pillow, two witch hats, and a light-up ghost I bought for $1.50 on clearance on November 1st.

We are definitely ready to move on with our life. It has been 16 months since we first applied for this opportunity. We're tired of waiting! During the waiting, we just discovered, Dalton outgrew the height requirement for the airline bassinets. Luckily, we were able to buy him a seat with our flight allowance.

Speaking of Dalton, he elicited a phone call to Poison Control the other day. Somehow the kids got a hold of and opened a bottle of Excedrin. Maggie played "snow" with it, then brought it to me in Mr. Potato Head's hat and asked, "Mom, what are these green things?" Pretty sure Dalton didn't eat any. I found another one on the floor today, and I know we'd used some, so he can't have had more than one.

Anyway, back to India. We leave December 2nd. There are no good flight options for taking two kids overseas. We'll be flying over two nights with a 10 hour layover in NYC. And drugging our kids with Benadryl if necessary (I already cleared this with the pediatrician).

: At the airport, experimenting for next week's trip. Hopefully it will be proportionally unsucky enough that the overnight flight to NYC will be bearable with the kids next week. Especially since I have a nap, rest, relaxation, and Leonard's cooking to look forward to - not more flying.

Happy Thanks:
Dear John,
Thank you for all you do for me and our family.
Love,
Susie

Dear Maggie,
Thank you for your best sillies and snuggles.
Love,
Mommy

Dear Dalton,
Thank you for your adorable laugh and general cuteness.
Love,
Mommy

New York, New York: My life has become a whirlwind, but I feel I should do a quick post about my trip to New York City to visit Leonard over Thanksgiving. I've put up some pictures on my picture blog to show Maggie while I was gone, but there are more. It was just Leonard and I and we had a great time. We went to the MoMa, the American Museum of Natural History (Dinosaurs!), Central Park, and lots of fabulous restaurants. I will also do a photo post of food we ate. We made Thanksgiving dinner with exactly what we wanted, including the most delicious dry-brined chicken and Leonard's famous tarts. We also visited the Socrates Sculpture Park near his house.

Leonard says I must have a touristy vibe about me because he gets treated like a tourist when he's with me. I think I figured out what it is: I'm nice. I got lost in Queens on the way to the airport. On the bus I helped a man zip up his bag that was coming unzipped and a girl said to him, "where do you think she's from? She is so nice!" I'm ok with that.

Everything is crazy here at home. We did lots of packing so I can take stuff to store at "ours other house" (as Maggie calls it). How did we get so much stuff? Since we bought Dalton a ticket, we will have plenty of room for stuff like diapers in our bags. We're really not taking much. I have lots of other errands to run. Hope the weather clears up, or at least the streets get plowed.

Getting Ready!: I am finishing up laundry right now, then I'm going to vacuum so I can put all our stuff in piles on the floor and pack properly. Since we're not leaving until midnight tomorrow, we really have two days left, but it doesn't feel like it.

Yesterday I went to our house to put some stuff in storage. Thanks to Jodi for being a huge help. I am an awesome mom because I crawled in between our furniture to find a toy Maggie's been asking about (a little dog with accessories that Shannon sent her when Dalton was born). I wrapped it up and let her unwrap it last night. She loves me.

: We got four people, 16 pieces of luggage, and a stroller all the way across the world. Yay us! (Thanks also to Mom and Dad, Franco and Jodi, and Leonard.) Indian men love babies. Everyone told me this, and I discovered it for myself before we even left New York. It is nice and warm and I can EAT soon. Also, must call Rachel. More later!

Welcome to Bangalore.: I've posted some pictures of the serviced apartment we're staying at this week, and of our stop in New York on the way. Sadly, we only saw Leonard for less than an hour (not counting our nap) and I didn't get any pictures. But we'll see him next week at Nandini's wedding.

It was a looong trip over here. Besides our three flights and long layovers, it's also an hour car ride from the airport. We are all still feeling exhausted, except maybe Maggie. She's been sleeping regular hours. Dalton woke up at 4ish and we couldn't get him to go back to sleep.

The hotel is really fancy. They just delivered our laundry, wrapped in tissue paper. The pool has white stones around it, and a waterfall. Rachel is visiting, having planned her trip based on our original travel dates. Today we went swimming (the pool was cold) and shopping for gifts for Rachel to take home. Maggie whined and wanted to be carried the whole way. Dalton attracted the attention of everyone.

[Comments] (1) First Day: John is at work, and Rachel left for home early this morning. So today is my first day "alone" in Bangalore. The kids are playing in the curtains.

Last night, John had to attend a banquet, so Rachel and I ventured out with the kids to find her one last curry. Apparently, curry is hard to find at 17:30. We finally found a place - it was fancy and we were the only patrons. Dalton fell asleep on the walk there, so Maggie got all the attention. The waiter just grabbed her and ran off. John said, "did she scream?" and no, she did not. Our meal was served on banana leaves (they didn't give Maggie one at first, and she complained). We ordered a curry, a rice, a yogurt, and a bread. Fancy place, like I said, and it was Rs300 (about $6). Maggie ate it all (except her apple juice, which I think was unpasteurized) and fell asleep on the bench before the end.

We all slept much better last night. I woke up around 5, so got up to say goodbye to Rachel. John and Dalton got up not too much later. We had to wake Maggie up.

Our driver started yesterday. Now that I'm comfortable using the auto rickshaw, I'm trying to decide if it's worth figuring out how using the car works so we can go check out a different mall/grocery store/American fast food for something to do this afternoon.

In the meantime, Dalton is crashing (literally...) so Maggie and I will do preschool while he has a nap.

[Comments] (1) Dichotomy: Today I washed clothes by hand, then got chauffeured to the mall in our private car. Weird. I was washing clothes in the sink because I am frugal - the laundry prices here are outrageous (here at the hotel, not here in India. It'd be cheaper to employ a maid for the sole purpose of doing my laundry). I guess I was also using the car because I am frugal - the car and driver are paid for by the firm; an auto rickshaw ride would not be.

Our driver took me to a nearby mall. The mall consists of a department store, a grocery store (like Wal-mart), a food court, and a fun center (skee ball, play place, video games). There is also a giant toy store next door, so we also went there.

Across the street is Taco Bell and KFC. Taco Bell is new to the neighborhood (Koramangala) and is advertising everywhere: Tacomangala. I guess I don't know what the word parts mean, but I found that funny.

But not as funny as "ware helmet save head."

[Comments] (2) Mehndi Party: Sumana's sister, Nandini is getting married tomorrow. Today there was a woman's party with mehndi (henna tattoo) application. Maggie bawled when I had mine applied. She likes it now that it's washed off, but she was really upset when they were applying mine. She preferred being held by strangers to sitting on my lap while it was being done. Dalton cried in general, because he is still having a hard time adjusting to the time change.

It was a lot of fun - a ton of people I didn't know, and the kids made lots of friends, including a little girl and a dog. Also, Leonard and Sumana were there! Hurray! And they came back to the hotel with me, so we've been hanging out all night. Sumana's been giving me a few extra tips on Indian culture.

[Comments] (1) Nandini's Wedding: This morning was Nandini's wedding (Sumana's sister). We missed the actual wedding part, though I hear Leonard led the procession in. Various people were singing and reciting poetry when we arrived. It was held in a big, semi-outdoor pavilion and people just sat on chairs watching, walking in and out, or chatting as they saw fit.

Lunch was a plantain leaf lunch (eaten in shifts because there was so many people). This is a meal that is eaten with the hands (well, the right hand). Dalton thought that was pretty neat. It was the most delicious Indian food I've had so far. It was really fresh, and I had Leonard on my right, and an Indian on John's left telling me what stuff was. Also, there was really yummy ice cream. The kids are doing great with the food here.

The tables were set up facing each other in rows so the servers could walk down in between and ladle food onto your plantain leaf. It was very well coordinated. Afterward, everyone went to nearby sinks to wash their hands, while the next group sat down and waited for the places to be cleared.

After lunch, everyone lined up to shake hands with and give gifts to Nandini and Girish. We just hung out with Leonard and Sumana some more. Dalton ran wild and made tons of friends. Every time he ran off, some one (usually a man) would bring him back and he'd jump into my arms. Then he'd make me put him right back down again.

I also posted some pictures of my henna tattoo. In the previous picture I still had the dye on. Once it dried, I scraped it off and it left a light orange stain. The dye reacts with the keratin in the skin, so it darkens overnight, and as it oxidizes. That's also why it's darker in some areas - those with thicker skin. And the spot where Dalton smudged it. He's got a bit of orange on his elbow...

Registered Immigrant: Time for an update! John has been doing such a good job, I haven't had to say much lately. We moved into an apartment. Now that it's been scrubbed clean, I can recognize it for the nice place it is. The tile floors need to be dusted daily, dishes washed by hand, and the laundry hung to dry, but we'd have to do that anywhere.

The neighborhood is nice, too. I walked down into the neighborhood with the kids yesterday. They charmed just about everyone in our path. We found a nice little grocery store and fruit stand. Further on there are dozens of teeny shops lining the street, selling everything from hoses to crystal. We walked down that way because Maggie wanted to follow the cow. So we did. Then I took a picture of it (and a dog) eating trash.

This morning we went and registered and received our permits to stay. I think we were the only Americans there. At first I thought it was obvious we are American, though everyone kept asking me where I was from (the answer is not "America", it's "US"). Apparently not. India has lots of immigrants, though not many others were white. Dalton made particular friends with two different nice young men. (Have I mentioned that everyone adores him?) I saw on their passports as we waited that one was from Afghanistan and the other from Iran. The Iranian one reminded me of Edd. He said Dalton was beautiful. I agree - though this was before he spilled Cocoa Puffs everywhere.

Wear More Bangles: Updates on two previous posts.

Registering: EY paid someone to wait in line for us at the registration office. (As Sumana says, India is a place where labor is so cheap that labor is used instead of labor saving devices.) He also filled out our paperwork, and when we left, he was waiting there to make sure our resident permits were correct. Pretty awesome service.

At Nandini's wedding, a woman came up to Sumana and shoved money into her hand, insisting that she wasn't wearing enough bangles. Sumana could see there was no point in resisting and I saw her slip the money into the bag she was holding.
Me: Isn't that Nandini's purse?
Sumana: Yes.
Me: Good move.

[Comments] (3) Dalton Boy: Dalton deserves a post of his own. A post solely devoted to all the cute words he says. I think his first word was Cracker. He also says Ball, Cheese, Lights and Car - all things he loves. I love when he says, "Bah!" especially if he is toddling after one that's rolled under the table.

Also, he loves to dance. He dances to The Hotdog Dance on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and the Handy Manny songs. The other day he smacked the keyboard at Kerri's house and turned on "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Immediately, he got up and started dancing to "This is Halloween."

He's been really grumpy the past few days, but I wore him out shopping this morning, then lunch and a visit to John's work, so he got a late nap. Hopefully that will reset his schedule.

[Comments] (2) 9000 miles away and still home: We went to our branch for the first time on Sunday (last week was district conference). It was such a relief to walk into the church and be called Sister. Like coming home. It was different, but the same, and we were very happy to be there. Especially Maggie. She only has one week left in Nursery, and she's making the best of it.

We're all settled, pretty much. I've found some stores I am happy shopping at, we are in a home (and lunch with Daddy!) routine, and we have lots of fun events planned on the weekends. On Christmas Eve, we're having a party with some other American LDS families, and on Christmas we're headed to the zoo for Maggie's first elephant ride. The kids may or may not be getting an elephant-themed toy from Santa for Christmas as well...

[Comments] (1) Career Day: Today Dalton learned about driving in Bangalore and working at McDonald's. Those McDonald's ladies love him. Also, at the fruit stand, a man grabbed a banana off the shelf and gave it to Dalton. You don't see that happen at Walmart. They also got one for Maggie. Dalton ate them both. (They are about half as big as the bananas usually found in the US.)

It's been really warm. Yesterday I was able to start a load of laundry in the morning, hang it up to dry, and get most of it folded and put away before John came home. Don't worry: I am baking dozens of sugar cookies (6 at a time in my toaster oven) to make it feel like Christmas.

Also, I used the stroller for the first time yesterday. Our neighborhood has decent enough sidewalk that I can walk down to the nearest little store (a few US blocks).

[Comments] (2) Merry Christmas!: We just got home from a Christmas party with some new friends. We had a great time, and the kids did too. We had a delicious dinner and fun games. We made out great in the White Elephant.

We started getting Christmas all set up for the kids (shhh!) and realized Maggie's Santa gift requires batteries. C batteries. Seriously? John ran out to the store.

[Comments] (1) Merry Christmas!: Yesterday felt like Maggie's birthday. She got lots of presents (she's already had several talks about taking Dalton's toys away) and we finally did the thing she's been begging to do for months - ride an elephant!

I was very impressed with the Bangalore Zoo (aka Bhannerghatta Biological Park). The reviews we read online made me worried I wasn't going to like it because of the animals' situations. But there were only a few things I didn't like to see. Also, the zoo was a lot bigger than I expected.

The zoo had bears (being fed popcorn), a zebra (being petted through the fence), a lot of different crocodiles, various monkeys and birds, and a leopard. They had two hippopotami. They looked pretty dry and miserable, but I think they were in a different pen while their regular one was being cleaned and filled with nice fresh water. At least that's what I'm telling myself. There were some ducks in a small pen with fencing over the top and a puddle of water to swim in. And they had 10 Asian elephants.

Four of the elephants were hanging out eating hay. Both of the kids were so excited to see them! Dalton just loved it. The elephant rides were on the other side of the zoo. There were 6 elephants over there. There were two babies taking tips and being petted (and tapped with sticks to behave), two just hanging out, and two giving rides. We paid less than $3 for all four of us to ride the elephant, since the kids were free. The drivers had their bare feet behind the elephants' ears to steer them. Ours was also spitting tobacco and listening to a radio.

The Grand Safari was great. We got in a crowded bus with grates covering the windows (minus holes for cameras). The bus entered the enclosures via double gates (Jurassic Park-style). We didn't have to wait in line and got nice seats up front, since we're white (but really because they assume we have money to tip well - if an Indian waved some rupees around, he'd get the same treatment).

We got up close and personal with sloth bears, white tigers, and lion cubs. So close - one of the white tigers we saw walked up to the road and the bus driver cut him off, so he just stood there looking at us. It was pretty cool! They had a lot of animals, many of them were in cages. I guess they can't let them all run free at the same time.

Dalton was one of the more popular exhibits at the zoo. He made friends with lots of people and the kids also had people ask to take pictures with them. When we left, the lines for the safari and the ticket booth were huge! We arrived a couple hours after they opened, but apparently that was plenty early. Our entire zoo trip was under $20 - a very great Christmas activity.

[Comments] (2) Spending Time: I spent time alone with Dalton today for the first time in I don't know how long. Maggie was up half the night throwing up and the other half asking for a "tsink of cold water" and fell asleep on me this afternoon while watching Dumbo. She slept for three hours, so when Dalton woke up, I got to play with and snuggle him, read books with him, and watch Baby Einstein Neighborhood Animals, his favorite show. He actually requested it - he went to the TV and signed Dog.

We booked our Hong Kong trip for April 16th. John is so giddy, it's adorable. For Family Night we made a countdown chain for Mysore-Hampi-Valentine's Day-Maggie's Birthday-St. Patrick's Day. By then it was ridiculously long, so we'll hold off on the last 31 days until Hong Kong. But we are really excited.

[Comments] (3) Dislike: India's great. Here's what I don't like about living here.

The kitchen.
I have to boil water to wash dishes.
There are bugs.
The counters are lower in the US. My back hurts washing dishes, and Dalton can reach things more easily.
The cupboards are SO not baby proof. Dalton pulls out all the dishes, and slams the doors really loudly.
There's no door (hence the previously mentioned Dalton problems.
The cupboard under the sink smells like mildew and is gross. I tied it shut to keep Dalton from opening it.
I have to use a lighter to light the stove.

Laundry. I don't mind doing laundry every day, or hanging the clothes to dry. But the washer takes forever to fill and, again, there's no hot water. Ours clothes don't always smell clean, either.

Opening the door and smelling India.
The floors are really hard.
Can't get some food (cheaply, or at all) like peanut butter, brown sugar,
Grocery shopping is annoying sometimes. I have to take an elevator.
Dirt.
No sidewalks.
European store timings.
Power outages.
Can't get the wireless to work.
Hmm. Maybe that's it! Small annoyances. Seriously, though, sometimes when I go out into the washroom and someone else is cooking dinner, I'm really glad I'm not pregnant. Bleh.

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