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[Comments] (3) Mysore: We are back from our New Year's road trip to Mysore. (Pictures here, here and here.) We had a great visit. The city is not very far away, but we live on the wrong side of Bangalore and the traffic (in the city) and the roads (everywhere) are terrible, so it's about a 4 hour trip.

We left Saturday morning, later than planned because this is India after all. Maggie threw up three times in the car on the way there. We went straight to the Mysore zoo where we saw elephants playing in the water, an otter rolling in the dirt, giraffes, dozens of crocodiles, and some tigers. I wished I'd taken more pictures of the hilarious signs. "Don't climb in the cage. The zebra will attack you [diagram of man being gored by zebra] and you will be punished [man being dragged away, bleeding, by security]."

After the zoo we drove out to Brindavan Gardens, stopping to see a waterfall on the way. It was nearly dark by the time we got to the gardens. We bought some scalped tickets, and hopped on a boat across the lake. Dalton got to drive. The gardens are at the foot of a dam, which provides power to Mysore and water supply to most of Karnataka. We watched a fountain/music/lights show. Not very impressive, but we had fun. By then it was completely dark, so we walked around and looked at the other fountains, before heading back into the city to stay with Sumana's mother, Nagalakshmi.

We had a very nice stay at Nagalakshmi's house. She had plenty of space for us, and plenty of food (though we sadly couldn't enjoy it as much as we wished). She was a very gracious and hospitable host. She also gave me a beautiful silk sari, and bought the kids some adorable Indian outfits, and gave John a comfy shawl.

On Sunday we went to Chamundi Hill. We saw some monkeys, climbed the last set of stairs up to the temple, and enjoyed the view. We did not pay to enter the temple, or wait in the line. At this point, we taught Maggie (and John) to not let anyone hand you anything. Dalton didn't learn this lesson and ended up with a temple offering when we visited the Bull Temple next. I insisted we didn't want it and put it back in the guy's basket. I'm all about supporting the local economy, but it's not my fault if he gives me 1 year old a carnation and he throws it on the ground.

After the temple, we took a rest, then went to Mysore Palace. Here's the rub: The entrance fee is Rs20 for Indian nationals, and Rs200 for Foreigners. Of course, $4 is cheaper than any museum in the US, so whatever. The palace was amazing. No photos (or shoes...) allowed inside, but I will tell you it is richly decorated, huge, and has beautiful etched glass and stained glass windows. The tour hardly covers any of it.

After the tour, we went on camel rides and another elephant ride, because we are nice parents. The elephant ride was quite a bit more than at the zoo last week, but I always say, "it cost us thousands of dollars to get here, $2 really isn't that much." John went and picked up our shoes while we waited for the rides, so you will see that everyone else is still barefoot. The camel ride was fun (and only 40 cents each), though John was worried Maggie would fall off and I was worried Dalton would fall off. The elephant ride was very wobbly and uncomfortable.

We hung out at the palace until dark to see it lit up. While waiting, we got toy autorickshaws for the kids. When I first asked how much, the seller said, Rs200. We ended up paying 80. Then, when the kids fought over it, we sent our driver back to the market with Rs40 and he got another for Rs35. The kids love their new little toys and it is quintessential India.

The lights on the Palace were pretty cool. No fireworks or anything, just lights. Dalton just about went crazy while we waited. We had more pictures taken of us on Sunday than we took of anything else. Poor Maggie has learned to say "No!"

On Monday, I went with Nagalakshmi to her tailor. The sari fabric is woven in one long yardage (meterage?), with the fabric for the blouse on the end. So the tailor cuts that off, makes a blouse out of it, and hems the end of the sari. Pretty neat! After being measured, we bought clothes for the kids. Then Sandeep (our driver) took us to the Deveraja Market. This market sells fruits, vegetables, bangles, flowers, and kumkum powder... that's about it. I went back in and bought some of the powder to use in painting with Maggie. Then we went on a pony cart ride around the Palace.

The drive back was a little better because Maggie fell asleep and didn't throw up. We're glad to be home and ready to start the new year.

[Comments] (4) Likes: For Tasha, who keeps asking.

Having a maid, so I can go out while Dalton is sleeping. Also, she is a really good cook.
The history, culture, and sights.
Inexpensive luxuries, like the fancy seaside trips we have planned.
Plenty of time to spend with the kids since there isn't much else to do.
Hong Kong!
Living life a little more simply and a little slower. I kind of like hanging the laundry to dry.
Cheap spices.
Daily validation that my kids are the cutest things on the planet. This is often accompanied by chocolate.
All the money we're saving.
Having John around a lot - and that he likes his job here.
The opportunity to develop a better sense of gratitude.

I didn't mention this in the Dislikes, but speaking of Tasha, huge sadface for our friends and family back home. We did a video chat with Grandma and Grandpa a couple days ago and Maggie is still talking about it. We are also enjoying exchanging weekly preschool updates with Tasha and Colette, but it's not the same.

Hello, Namaste, We Welcome You Today: Today was Maggie's first day in Primary. She did really well! She sat on a big chair and sang songs. She even got a little note pinned on her dress saying she is assigned to say the closing prayer next week.

They had singing time and sharing time first with all the kids. Then they had a five minute break, during which all the kids were given a candy bar. After the break they had their classes. There are only two classes. They delivered Maggie to Relief Society after, along with a laminated ring of the scriptures for this year's theme and another piece of candy. I heard they don't know how to teach to kids very well in our branch, but the candy seems to be a good start, for Maggie at least.

How Do You Think?: This is a question Maggie has been asking a lot lately. She means "what do you think?" as in "what is your opinion about this?" and asks it whenever she shows off a piece of artwork, a Lego creation, or something else clever that she's made.

[Comments] (1) The Sad Thing About January: Today is a sad day. It comes around once a year. Christmas is over. The decoration is put away. The long stretch until Valentine's Day is laid out before us. And I have eaten the last of the peanut brittle.. Until next year, my old friend.

[Comments] (1) Back and Forth:
In 2010
I started working as a Blogger and Community Leader at Mommysavers.
My baby boy grew so big, walking, signing, and getting into everything.
My Maggie girl blossomed in creativity and imagination.
We moved to Bangalore, India (eventually).
I made our Halloween costumes (and lots of other stuff).
I started doing home preschool with Maggie (and Colette).
We did a TON of staycation activities around the valley, mostly with Tasha or my cousins, including the Great Salt Lake, Gale Center Museum, and the Utah State Fair.
I did tons of kids crafts with Maggie.
I attended one wedding (Brynn & Craig) and we had one new niece join our family. And then I babysat her for 2 months.
We saw Bryce Canyon National Park, Snow Canyon State Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Park City, Zion National Park. I also went to New York, and John to Chicago and Florida (for work).
John started doing training and coaching for EY - and loves it.
We went on two Disneyland trips.
We put some serious miles on the hiking carrier - and even more on my baby sling (I seriously LOVE this thing and use it daily).

In 2011
We will travel around India, and visit Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and hopefully more.
We'll move back into our house after over a year.
Dalton will start Nursery. Believe me, I'm counting down the weeks.
Maggie will start real preschool. Probably. We may hold off until January.
I will be focusing a lot on enriching our family. Preschool and crafts with Maggie. Reading and outside time with both kids every day. Involving Dalton in more art projects. Involving Maggie in more cooking projects. Family Home Evening every week (John and I have been so good about this!) and other Gospel teaching in our home.
We'll check out Hong Kong Disneyland.
Sewing will be limited for a while, though I'm getting really imaginative with a glue stick and construction paper.
We will all learn even more about Indian culture.
I will enjoy every minute of having a maid.

Here's to the rest of our lives!

[Comments] (5) Attachment Disorder: Dalton has developed a sort of attachment disorder. He cries when Daddy leaves for work. Or when Kannagi goes home. Or the cleaning lady. Or the electrician. It's getting a little out of hand.

Attachment disorder reminds me of Mom who liberally applied the term to victims of divorce and naughty dogs.

We walked home from lunch with John today. Our driver has Fridays off and one of the auto drivers near the office thinks he has a monopoly on charging me too much. It only took about 20 minutes and Dalton enjoyed being outside. We didn't have any trouble, even crossing the busy street, until we were nearly home. A woman ran across the street toward us saying the four English words she knew. Hallo! Thank you! Jesus! She said Jesus over and over and then put coconut oil on our heads. If I'd know she was going to do that, I'd have just walked away. Ugh.

Leave Me Alone: Today we went to Cubbon Park and visited the children's park there. We were the only white people.

Oh, let me interrupt this post with a white people joke. The other day we were going to a grocery store in the vicinity of this park (a tourist area) and I said, "hey, look a white person!" Maggie jumped up and said, "where? Where??" When I finished laughing, I asked, "Maggie, what color are you?" "Pink," she answered. Of course.

Back to my post. We have really cute kids and everyone loves to see them, talk to them, touch them, hold them etc. Not really a huge deal, and we knew this would happen ahead of time. Everyone here, especially young men, loves our kids. Dalton bears the brunt of it, but since I am often holding him in the sling, Maggie gets her fair share of attention.

Maggie has started yelling, "No!" if someone approaches her. I don't think she minds talking to people, shaking their hands or whatever, but she's been pinched on the cheeks a few too many times. Dalton, on the other hand, LOVES the attention. He is usually happy to go to anyone who wants to hold him - for a minute at least. The sling helps here; it's a lot harder to take him from me if he's in the sling and I'm holding on tight. Saying "no" doesn't work, though Maggie has demonstrated that yelling it does.

Neither of them minds posing for pictures. Oh, and Dalton has started waving to everyone who looks at him. He can just tell when he is the object of attention, and he turns and waves his adorable baby wave. Sometimes he will bury his head against me, but it's so cute that he's hiding that he gets "awwws" of attention and turns right back out to acknowledge them.

Maggie is not entirely unfriendly. As John wrote, she made friends with a gaggle of boys on a school trip. They all passed the playground where we were and waved from the train yelling "Hi, Maggie!"

[Comments] (1) Connections: Dalton and I read Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do you Hear? this morning to distract him from his morning "Daddy's gone" tantrum. He turns the pages so fast that I gave up and just named the animals as he turned the page. "Peacock!" I said. "Cock!" he said, and pointed to the clock on the wall. Close, but no bird.

Other words Dalton says all the time: lights, fish, off, bonk (sounds more like ack, but he says it while bonking his head on the elevator wall, which is, apparently, hilarious), banana (dada), and mama.

[Comments] (3) Flying Elephants: Maggie is very concerned about getting her Elefun game home. "My blue elephant won't fit on the airplane," she said. "Yes it will. We'll put it in a suitcase in the airplane's tummy." "I will hold it on my lap."

Again, today, she detailed her plan. "Daddy will help me fold up the trunk. I will put the trunk off and put all the butterflies away. We'll put it in the suitcase. Then we can play it with Hannah and James. I will tell [ask] James what he got for Christmas, and Hannah too."

Also today she asked, "When is Colette coming on an airplane to India?"

Speaking of flying elephants, Maggie drew the cutest picture the other day. I drew a circus scene for her to fill in. I left a space in the roof of one of the train cars. I pointed it out to her and asked "what do you think goes in this car with a hole in the roof?" She drew 6 or 7 elephants. The one in the car with the hole was Dumbo's mommy. Her trunk went out of the hole in the roof, around the circus grounds, and back to wrap around Dumbo in the next car over and over again. "She's snuggling him," she said.

[Comments] (3) This and That: We found a library. It is right down the street. They have books and toys to lend. We had to pay a registration fee, a deposit, and an upfront payment for 6 months of membership. If we get our deposit back, it will only be $50 for 6 months. Not bad. We can have 2 toys and 2 books at a time. It's so close, we could walk down every day and grab something new to read.

We had an impromptu video chat with Grandma this morning. She commented on how well Dalton is walking (by which I assume she mean, running, climbing, jumping and tumbling). He has worn out the only paid of shoes that fits so I bought him the smallest, least hideous pair I could find. They are red and blue foam sandals with Mickey Mouse on them and they are too big.

Tonight we're leaving on a three night, two day, overnight train adventure to Hampi. I admit, I am a little nervous about getting settled on the train. But we bought a package deal with a driver and an English-speaking guide, and I am SO excited to see the ruins, the temples, ride on a coracle boat, and do a bit of "trekking" (that's what the Eastern Hemisphere calls hiking).

Earlier this week, the kids and I went down to Commercial Street to find a fabric store Kerri told me about. I bought some embroidery supplies. I've discovered that I can't read or stitch with my new glasses (maybe I need bifocals?), but putting my old ones on, I doodled a little embroidery design and I'm learning some stitches. Feels good to create something other than chocolate pancakes and cereal box crafts.

Speaking of creating: homemade marshmallows with homemade corn syrup - do I dare?

Making Stuff: I love to make stuff. I love to make people smile. I love to make people laugh. I love to make my kids smarter, better people. I love to sew things. I love to make homemade cards, scrapbook pages, and music. I love to make memories and yummy food. I love to write and I love to play. And I love to learn to make new things.

Creating makes me who I am. It fulfills me. I've known this for a long time. Happily, it is also my destiny.

New Words: Dalton learned two new words yesterday. He started saying "up" and he signed "airplane" to Aunt Rachel for the first time.

This weekend (pictures here, here, and here), both of the kids learned new words. Dalton learned the sign for "train" and Maggie learned about the word "ruins." I first defined a ruin as a really old building that no one lives in anymore. I was wrong.

[Comments] (1) Spotlight: Maggie was the Spotlight in Primary today. I quizzed her to get the info.

Favorite Color: Red, Orange and Grey
Favorite Scripture: 1 Nephi 3:7 (I extrapolated a bit with this.)
Favorite Primary Song: "Hello, Mama Stay" (Hello, Namaste), since this is the only one she remembers singing in Primary yet. But after I pointed out it was any of the songs in the Children's Songbook, she picked The Oxcart.
Favorite Food: Ice Cream
Favorite Activity: Play and help Mom and Dad
Least favorite thing: Nothing.

Kerri made a big 8x10 picture of Maggie with a puzzle over it. The kids got to remove puzzle pieces with songs, and guess the clues to see who it was. Even though it was obvious (to the adults) that it was one of the white kids, it was the dress that gave it away. Maggie herself sat there so sweetly listening to clues about herself. Three favorite colors the same as her? Likes The Oxcart just like her?? It was the first spotlight, or she might have figured it out earlier.

Kerri and I both got teary-eyed when she was reading the rest of the clues about Maggie.

[Comments] (1) The way things are: I think the bug that crawled into Handy Manny's singin' dancin' toolbox got what it deserved. Also: Maggie is playing with a pile of flour on the counter and Dalton is eating raw okra.

[Comments] (1) Through Orange-Colored Glasses: Maggie and I buy a fuzzy drink - orange Fanta - at the store, and open it in the car.

Hmm. This reminds me of The Ranch. Grandma and Grandpa always gave us orange soda and Mug rootbeer.
Man, we were spoiled grandkids.
Remember when being given soda was all it took to be spoiled?
I guess it still is at our house.

I lean over in the car and give Maggie another drink of orange Fanta. Time to make a new memory.

Pondy Top 10: Just a few notes from our trip to Pondicherry.

1. Dalton was afraid of the temple elephant. He hid his face and whimpered like a poor thing. No more elephant blessings for him.
2. Some of the complaints we read about the hotel we stayed in were that it wasn't very Indian. John said about that, "India's right there. I don't need to stay in India."
3. Silly road signs we didn't get pictures of included "Don't Encourage Children for Driving" and "Don't Over Speed". We also saw many trucks that said "We Two Ours One" on the back. One even said "We Two! Our's One!" with a close quotation mark at the end.
4. Rooftop pool = awesome. The view, the warm water, Maggie being willing to swim and play, and able to stand on her own.
5. The food was surprisingly good. I wasn't expecting much after the hotel in Hampi, but the lunch and dinner buffets were definitely edible.
6. Everyone thinks Dalton's name is Dawsom. I am getting better and pronouncing it with an Indian accent so people can understand it. There is a brand of noodles (like Top Ramen) called Maggi here, so no one has trouble with that.
7. I must be very desperate for craft supplies. Maggie and I gathered a cup of seashells to bring back. It's already paid off: she spent half an hour playing with them while I made dinner.
8. Speaking of craft supplies, the Hand Made Paper Factory was delicious! Everything was amazing and so cheap. We bought some of everything and I can't wait to play with it.
9. Dalton signed Thank You twice, even though I haven't shown him that sign in weeks.
10. If the Bay of Bengal didn't have such a fierce undertow, I'd have gladly swam in it. The water was warm and the sand was perfect and the kids were having a great time. This trip was what a beach resort town vacation should be.

Thanks, John, for a great Valentine's Weekend! Pictures of Pondicherry are up. Pictures of the drive and our paper factory haul coming soon.

Grandma June Round-Up: I looked through my blog for some memories of Grandma June to share. Wish I had more. Actually, there are more, I just can't find them.

Lots of hilarious Grandma June quotes 5/16/06
Grandma's siblings 6/30/06
Maggie's first "I love you" 8/7/2009
The story behind the picture of Maggie and Grandma June on her swing 8/21/10
Maggie reads a card from Grandma June 12/17/09
Maggie creates a tail for Grandma June 2/5/10
Grandma's favorite songs (Little Purple Pansies) 3/22/10
Snuggling Dalton at the cemetery 5/31/10

Maybe I Should Rethink Dinner: The Dino Nuggets I bought have a Veg symbol on them and the french fries have oven instructions. In Fahrenheit. Imported french fries? How much did I pay for that?

Mornings at Home: John calls just minutes after leaving for work. There's a huge, dead dragonfly in the stairwell and we should go check it out. After the cleaning lady finishes, we put our shoes on and head down the stairs. The kids are both impressed with the dragonfly. Since we're most of the way down, we go outside and walk around the building twice. The second time, we stop in one of the gardens and pick smooth stones out of the "grass" and throw them back into the planters.

This morning when I started this blog Maggie was practicing writing the letter W and Dalton was coloring with colored pencils in his booster seat.

I love being able to say "sure!" when Maggie comes up with some crazy thing she wants to make. And tickling, and singing silly songs.

More here.

Pretzel Perfection: If you had a cook, what would you want to eat? I still have to plan food and, usually, buy the groceries. I'm just saved the labor. Also, I have to carefully watch what she's doing and be very specific. Case in point: pretzels.

Today we made pretzels for the 5th or 6th time. And they turned out great! The main problem, we discovered last time, was that Kannagi had used baking powder instead of baking soda. Here they say "cooking soda", so she figured it was referring to the baking one. Oops, and yuck. Other problems now resolved: leaving the pretzels in the soda water longer and rolling the dough thinner. Her pretzels are now better than mine.

Other things a cook is useful for: pomegranate seeds, making pumpkin puree... oh, and cleaning up.

[Comments] (1) : Maggie and I made homemade rocks today. She is begging me to open the container of sand we brought up from the playground so she can make a pogo stick with it.

Excuse me, you just open the dirt for me? Cause I will put it in a cup and put water in it and stir it with a spoon. I will wuse this spoon to stir it. Let it tsy for a little minute to make a medium pogo stick. How you think of that you make a pogo stick, Mommy? Please open it? I need a wil bit cause I will put water and stir it and let it tsy for a minute.

Today at Church:
Dalton folded his arms for the prayers.
The kids behaved themselves, with the help of the 5 single brothers who sit behind us, and a lot of goldfish crackers.
Maggie gave an inaudible prayer in Primary.
I wore a sari, petticoat and all.
I got dressed. I was unsuccessful at putting the sari on myself at home.
I played the piano in Primary.
John played the piano in Sacrament Meeting, but actually did not teach or give a lesson this week!
Dalton started pinching his own cheeks.

Seeing Things: "Can you see a thing?" This is what Maggie says when it's dark. It's adorable. Our car windows are heavily tinted, so it's very difficult to see anything when we are in a car park. Yesterday I gave her toilet paper rolls and some red, orange, and yellow crepe paper to make a pretend fire with. She stuffed the orange paper in two toilet paper rolls and set them on my and John's nightstands. "Look mom, I gave you a fire so you can see a thing!"

Update: It appears that "I can't see a thing" is said in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

We picked John up from work and ate at Sunny's in Indiranagar. It was awesome. There weren't many other customers, and they had a baby seat that kept Dalton in one place. Our food was really good and the dessert was actually worth getting. Plus, it was great to spend time together. While waiting for the driver, we went into The Body Shop next door. Yum. We'll go there instead of to the spa next time we need pampering.

[Comments] (1) : Maggie was in the bathtub just now when the power went out.
I went to her (in the pitch black) saying, "it's ok, I'm right here."
"Mom, don't open it."
"Open what?"
"Don't open the bathtub lid [drain] yet. I'm not done."

She loves to play "snuggle in the dark" which is a lot like snuggling. With the lights off. I think it's a subtle way of saying "I want to sleep in your bed tonight" but it hasn't worked yet.

Today I took her on a swimming play date. The play friends were babies the same age as Kyli. Maggie took over the floating seat and walked around the kiddie section wearing it. The water was cold, but felt good and it was nice to hang out with people.

We left Dalton at home asleep. While we were gone Kannagi made two batches of pretzels, chapati, roti, chicken biryani, and made rice and prepped vegetables for me to cook this weekend. She also cleaned the kitchen and entertained Dalton. Amazing.

Auntie Susie: Yesterday during one of our walks around the building, a group of boys rode by on their bikes. One of them called "Hi Dalton! Hi Auntie! Hi Maggie!" Not surprisingly, this is common among neighbors (plus I don't think I'd ever met the boy, that he just met the kids at the playground). But it still made me very happy.

: 50 rupees ($1.10) for a Liahona subscription. I finally caved and got one. Maggie really likes to do the activities from the Friend in there.

Metamorphosis : Another nature adventure around our apartment building. We were taking a walk one morning and John noticed a weird looking bug in the street. As we examined it, we realized it was a caterpillar (or, I guess, a butterfly or moth) trying to get out of its cocoon. Maggie watched it for probably 15 minutes, and it also attracted the attention of all the other kids outside playing. The little guy didn't make much progress while we watched, but we made sure he was safely out of the street and Maggie made him a pile of leafy greens to have when he got out.

Transcontinental and Timbukto: I have lived in more countries than states. (Dalton and John also, but Maggie is tied). I have actually lived on more continents than states.

Not only that, born and raised in Southern California, my two siblings and I now live 3,000 to 10,000 miles away from our birthplace, and each on a different continent. Thank goodness for video chat!

Surreal: While eating lunch at a cheap French cafe at a fancy mall on Saturday, we saw a family with two teenage daughters, presumably on vacation. I was thinking of that feeling when you're on a really cool vacation. Is this really happening? How cool is this! How cool am I! Unless your vacation is longer than a couple weeks, that feeling stays the entire time. And even then, sometimes it floats over you again.

That surreal feeling has come and gone several times for us during our time in India. We've been here four months, which is as long as I lived in Romania. Once when John and I were talking about it, I wondered about the actual definition of the word "surreal." "Sur" in French means "upon", so my definition of a surreal feeling is as if there were another layer on top of reality.

Underlying our regular life is the fact that we live in India. We're so adjusted that sometimes we forget. Then when I remember, that surrealism settles down over me.

[Comments] (2) Spring Dragons: Earlier today, I was telling Maggie about how baby animals are born in the Spring and that's why eggs are a symbol of Spring. We drew some baby Spring animals to celebrate the point.

Now she is asking me, "what other animals are in the Spring? Dragons?"
"No, not dragons. Dragonflies and butterflies."
"But dragons lay eggs!"
Touche.

Maggieisms:

restaurant menu = calendar
magnets = batteries
video = radio
bun (hairstyle) = gun
"let's look for a caterpillar coming out of a raccoon."
I have a good idea! or That's not a good idea.
Can I do a bad example?
She still says "ts" for combined consonants (truck = suck, drip = sip).
Her animals are always driving to the cabin, or taking a boat to Pondicherry beach, or flying to India or Hong Kong.
She loves to play "I'm gonna get you!" Dalton also loves this game.
Maggie knows all the words to the Primary songs they are learning this year.
She is getting so tall.

[Comments] (2) About a Boy: Today is Dalton's half-birthday; he is 18 months old. Since we have General Conference this week and will be in Hong Kong the next two Sundays (YES!) he won't be starting nursery for a few more weeks.

He loves cars. He has started lining them up.
He can sign a couple dozen words.
He is very interested in animals. He always notices birds (and signs "bird" and says "caw" if it's a crow making that sound) and dogs (and signs "dog" and says "woof") and cows (and signs "horse" and says "moo") and bugs (and says "guck").
He knows animals sounds and makes them with a passion.
Dalton knows the sounds of all 26 letters.
He loves to color.
He loves to go for walks. If he hears me mention it, he will bring his shoes over. "gack!"
He is not as snuggly as his sister. When we read books, he likes to sit next to me rather than on my lap.
He is very friendly and outgoing and still lets random Indians pick him up.
He just cut his 10th tooth (5 times as many as Maggie had at this age).
He wakes up too early.
He jumps down small steps.
He likes Ring Around the Rosie and other dancing games.
He says "uh oh!" when the power goes out.

[Comments] (1) Prophets and Temples: We watched two sessions of General Conference with our branch today. We had a half hour break in between and the kids were surprisingly well-behaved for all four hours. We had a little help from the usual young single adult men. I’m glad we had the opportunity to go, because there’s definitely something different about watching Conference in a chapel than watching it on TV at home in your PJs, or at your leisure on the computer, or reading it in the Ensign.

We believe in living prophets today, and it’s a joy to take time out of our oh-so-busy Sunday schedule to hear what guidance they have for us for the next 6 months. Maggie is learning President Monson’s name, and was happy to see President Uchtdorf as well – remember we met him hiking recently. She compared the speakers to the pictures in the April Liahona’s children’s activity and I helped her write the names underneath.

A brother in our ward at home is a member of the Tabernacle Choir and seeing him singing made me inexplicably homesick.

I loved the quote from President McKay that the church will shut down temples before they let our people go hungry. I love how involved the church is in welfare and relief. It’s no secret that the church is wealthy. Wealth distributed under the direction of the Apostles and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. No better work can be done.

85% of church members live within 200 miles of a temple. Being in that 15% stinks! Especially because most of them probably can’t afford to travel so far to the nearest temple. We are really looking forward to our trip to Hong Kong this week all the more because we will be able to attend the temple – the only time we’ll be able to during our 11 months in India.

Speaking of Hong Kong, we’ve also booked travel to Bangkok, Thailand for our anniversary this summer. I have always wanted to travel to Thailand and I am really looking forward to the fun and cultural things we’re going to do there.

Lift-onomics: Indians think that to get the elevator to come down to you, you push the down button - regardless of where you want to go once you get in the elevator. This usually works fine if you are the only person using the elevator. Once you get in, you push the floor you want to go to, and it takes you there.

But if you're on the 6th floor and want to go to the 8th floor and push the down button to get the elevator to come down to you, and I'm on the ground floor wanting to go to the fourth floor, the elevator is going to come all the way down to get me and drop me off first.

Just saying.

Auto-nomics: We took an auto home from church on Sunday. We live near a very well-known store, so our apartment isn't hard to find. Yet we had trouble finding an auto driver at the auto stand willing to take us. Even the drivers that approached us said no.

Finally one pulled over and said he'd take us for 100, which is what we usually pay to get to church, though the fact that he offered at 100 means we could have paid less. On the way home, I recounted Rachel's version of Newton's First Law of Motion.

An auto at rest will stay at rest unless a large force acts against it.

It's much easier to flag down an auto than convince one to move from a tea break.

I Yelled in the Grocery Store Today: Here's the basic problem: Indians like to get in line, then go and do their shopping.

I waited 5 minutes in one line, which had an unattended shopping cart in it. The guy in front of me and I scooted past it as the line moved up. When the lady came and tried to shove her way back in, I ignored her, until I realized the checker wasn't even there. So I went and got in a different line. The people in front of me were clearly waiting for someone else to come back with something. Irregardless, they started unloading their cart. Apparently they were waiting for two people to come, and then paying three different ways, and arguing about who was paying for what. So annoyed. When it was nearly my turn, another person showed up, with the same group. He tried to sneak around to the cashier after I wouldn't let him past and I started yelling at him.

No! You are cutting in line. I have been waiting. If you're not ready DON'T get in line.

The cashier, who obviously didn't like all those people cutting either, told him no and started ringing me up. I was so mad and a bit embarrassed that I was shaking.

When I left, the guy was three people behind me in line. Hah.

Another Maggie Quote:
Me: What are you going to count to? (she counts while she stands up in the bath for me to wash her).
Maggie: Zero. Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Zero! ... Marse One!

Later, I used "Minus one" (that's what they call the basement level here) in a sentence so she'd know the correct way to say it. Then we started calling it silly things and she said "Plus One!" I was very impressed that she put the "minus" and "plus" connection together.

Remember When: I love when Maggie says or does something that shows she remembers Our Other Life. The kids are playing with playdough and I spent 5 minutes looking for the rolling pin Dalton got out earlier (it was under the couch). "Hey Mom, remember that little rolling at our other house and we didn't bring it with us." When I asked her what color it was she remembered.

Also, yesterday, I asked if she remembered when Jill and I made the bat pillows and she said, "and I was playing in the sun room!"

Not India: One of the reasons we are so excited for our trip to Hong Kong - besides the fact that we've been planning this practically since we got married - is because it's Not India. We can't wait to get out of the country. 4 1/2 months is too long. 9 weeks is too long to go without a vacation and we won't be doing that again. But 3 months is about the limit for staying in India.

Easter Wednesday: We celebrated Easter early yesterday, since we will be in Hong Kong until afterwards. Basically, I wanted the kids to enjoy the stuff we (I mean, the Easter Bunny) got them. John hid everything 'cause he's good at stuff like that. Here's our homemade/makeshift Easter hunt:

Fisher-Price nesting eggs
Fabric pocket eggs
Starburst jellybeans (thanks, Jill!)
Littlest Pet Shop rabbit, turtle, and chair
sand/water toys (funnel, castle-shaped watering can, etc)
toy boat
blow up baby pool
dinosaur stickers
yellow and black nail polish (a la Ember the bumblebee)
Cadbury eclair candies
and two little cloth bunnies I made trying to replicated the felt bunnies from last year.

Later in the day, I made an actual felt bunny from the felt Jill sent.

[Comments] (1) Bangalore-Kuala Lumpur-Hong Kong: John blogged extensively about our trip through Kuala Lumpur and our first day in Hong Kong so I will just add a few things that I thought were interesting.

I saw more pregnant people in 5 hours at the Kuala Lumpur mall than I have in 5 months in India.
I am apparently used to not wearing seat belts and drivers opening the car door for me.
I love people who actually queue.
We were served dinner on Malaysia Air at 3 am. Seriously. I don't know what's weirder, curry at 3 am, or the fact that I ate it.
You can get away with wearing anything in Hong Kong. Between very short skirts and Muslim women covered head to toe, we saw a lot of different styles. You can dress however and call it fashion and get away with it, I think.
We have four kinds of currency with us.
Malaysia was so much more green than India. It was more lush and jungle, really like we expected India to be. They had something growing everywhere India has dirt. In the sidewalk cracks, up the tree trunks. Red soil is to India as greenery is to Malaysia.
McDonald's BEEF hamburger - so good.
The Malaysia Air flight attendants gave me dinner first (the second time, not the 3 am time) so I could eat while John held Dalton, then vice versa when they got to our row. Very thoughtful. Baby boy also got us cuts in two immigration lines, and a seat offer on a crowded MTR, though I didn't take it.
Maggie slept 18 hours in a row yesterday.
Having church in a chapel with carpet and pews (and stained glass windows and paintings of Christ, and elevators, and toilet paper, and an organ) agreed with Dalton. That boy needs more carpet in his life.
I have some little world travelers with full pages in their passports. Sometimes I am amazed at myself for dragging the kids all over the world. But they don't seem any the worse for wear, so onward we go.

Not Disneyland: Today we went to Ocean Park, a theme park here in Hong Kong. Themed around the ocean, surprisingly enough. Halfway through Maggie complained that we hadn't found the Winnie-the-Pooh ride yet. Lucky her! If that was Disneyland, she gets to go twice.

Dalton loved the carousel. I guess he's over his temporary fear of rides, or maybe that was India-specific. He wasn't afraid of the characters (mascots) either, nor the Chinese women who wanted to hold him and comfort him when he cried because we had to get off the carousel. Maggie seems less afraid of people here, and even waved to the doorman. Maybe she's realized that her cheeks haven't been pinched in two days.

Ocean Park is in two sections, a lower one, then you take a gondola up over the mountain, or a sub-themed train through the mountain to the other side. One of my favorite rides was a rotating view tower. You sit on a bench looking out and it rotates and slowly rises up, then goes down. We had great views of Hong Kong and the ocean.

My other favorite part was the animals. There are several aquariums with fish, sharks, jellies, goldfish etc, but they also have exhibits of Asian animals. For example, Giant Pandas! yay! Maggie wasn't very interested (she didn't want to give up her stroller spot) and I told her, "you might never get to see a panda again, get up and look." I was wrong though; there was another one in a different exhibit just across the way.

John didn't believe me, but I remember seeing Giant Pandas at the LA Zoo growing up. Perhaps a postcard will soon come up, validating that. I was recently validated about my childhood elephant rides, so it's possible. Also, it looks like the San Diego Zoo has pandas right now. You can even watch them on Panda cam. He's walking around right now!

Anyway, I also loved seeing the red pandas. They were so soft and cuddly looking. They were more active and seemed larger than the one at the Hogle Zoo.

They also had a sea lion and seal exhibit, and Maggie got to feed the seals. She dove right in (figuratively) and did it. It's $45 to feed the penguins at the aquarium in Utah, but we only paid $3.50 for three frozen fish for the seals! Maggie kept calling them otters, then she'd correct herself and say "animals" because she couldn't remember the name. They had otters also.

Alternate Universe Disneyland: Yesterday we finally went to Hong Kong Disneyland. Between Ocean Park, and seeing Pixar characters at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, and Peanuts characters at Snoopy's World, it's no wonder our kids think Hong Kong is Hong Kong Disneyland.

We were at the park when they opened at 10:30 and left when they closed at 8. It's like an Alternate Universe Disneyland. I was actually a little freaked out walking down Main Street USA, which is pretty much the same, but different enough to feel a little Twilight Zone-y. The street is brick instead of pavement, and the signs are different. That's about it. Once you split into the lands the differences become great enough that you don't keep thinking you're in Southern California, but before that it's a little disorienting.

The kids had a great time. We rode most of the rides and they were happy campers. The Winnie-The-Pooh ride had a lot of changes. There were new scenes added, which was fun and different, since I've been on it so many times. it's a small world was different, too. Again, it's nice to see something different on such a familiar ride. Dalton was enthralled with it. I really loved the Hong Kong scene at the end. Very cool!

We also saw two really great shows, Mickey's PhilharMagic Orchestra and The Festival of the Lion King. The first was a 3D show where Donald steals Mickey's magic hat and is taken through different musical scenes of movies looking for it. The second is an amazing live, musical performance, a quick reenactment of The Lion King. There's dancing, great singing, men twirling fire batons, girls swinging from the ceiling, and, of course, monkeys translating the key points into Chinese.

Hong Kong is awesome. I don't know how much of that is compared to India. Perhaps I would feel inconvenience coming here from the US. As it is, the biggest inconvenience is that I had to do laundry by hand for several days.

The Hong Kong subway system is awesome. All the trains and stations are clean and shiny. The maps light up, letting you know which stop is approaching, which lines you can transfer to, and which side of the door to get out of. Transferring trains is often as simple as walking across the platform - trains running in the same direction share platforms, rather than trains from the same line running in different directions. It is so efficient. The stations have multiple entrances, which means a lot of walking to get to the train, but that the station can easily serve a large area. And there are escalators everywhere. You also buy a ticket based on which stop you are getting off at. And the trains are filled with nice people who give their seats to ladies holding crazy babies.

I tried to go to the temple today, but apparently it was closed for the Public Holiday and is closed tomorrow, too! Sad. There goes my one chance to go to the temple this year. We did have a fun time at a nearby park, at Snoopy's World, and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. We took it easy today because yesterday was such a long day.

Some more great things about Hong Kong:
A different selection of imported food (we bought sour gummy worms, wild rice, dried mangoes, two kids of goldfish crackers, and different granola bars to take back with us)
A different selection of imported restaurants (I'm trying to convince John to go to CPK again)
Did I mention the beef hamburgers at McDonald's?
Lots of people-watching
People are very friendly
There is a LOT to see and do
Carbs
Lots of walking and exercise

Shopping: I am not a jewelery girl and I am not a purse girl, but somehow I'm coming "home" from Hong Kong with more of those things. I checked the price on a tiny, plastic purse at Burberry yesterday and it was nearly $400 (US) so I decided to go with the little $2 purses at Stanley Market. I got two tiny purses that'll hold a phone and credit cards and some cash and that's about it.

I also got a jade bracelet. Jade! The lady also looking at them asked the salesgirl if they were high grade jade and the girl laughed at her. So, we spent $13 on a bracelet instead of $2,000. I'm ok with that, and I love it.

We also got Chinese clothes, t-shirts, postcards, a fan, a parasol, chopsticks, and regular clothes for me and Maggie. Lots of silk brocade coming back with us.

I am not looking forward to going back to India. Hopefully the reality is better.

If you've missed any of John's detailed accounts of our Hong Kong trip, check them out.
Kuala Lumpur
Ocean Park
The Peak
Lantau Tour
Hong Kong Disneyland
Temple and Sha Tin
Stanley Market

Home Sweet... Oh Wait.:
Good: Washing machine!
Bad: Power was out most of the day.
Good: Lots of toys! The kids were very happy to see all their toys again. Maggie missed her free play time.
Bad: Two little dinosaurs decided to keep touring the island.
Good: Dalton was willing to start napping again.
Bad: No nap for me, since I had to go grocery shopping.
Good: I didn't yell at anyone at the grocery store.
Bad: Haven't been able to find basil again.
Good: Had a box of scrapbooking supplies waiting for me.
Bad: Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of photos.
Good: The apartment was nice and clean to come home to.
Bad: We also came home to ants.
Good: 32 days until our next vacation.
Good: 1 hour flight.
Good: Swimming, kids club, all-inclusive, beach, relax, and actual bathtub.
Yay.

Second Breakfast: Indian butter chicken, fried okra and naan. Yum.

I'm on my third load of laundry. The power's been out twice, but we got up super early, so it balances out. Hopefully the sun stays out because I already don't have room to dry this load.

[Comments] (2) Today: I keep meaning to blog, but I haven’t had anything good to say. So in lack of anything better, here’s what I did today.

John got up with the kids about 7. I got up at 7:25, made the beds, started a load of laundry. Made smoothies (mango yogurt, orange juice, pineapple juice, frozen strawberries) and peanut butter toast for breakfast. Took the trash out. Kids watched Madagascar. I checked email and went through my Google Reader, bookmarking stuff to post on Mommysavers during naptime. Got a preschool activity ready for Maggie. Power went on and off and drove me and the internet nuts.

Maggie and I did a math game while Dalton played cars. Maggie helped me make colored ice cubes for water sensory play after quiet time. Dalton helped me make a mess. I made some cookies during a brief window when the power was on and stayed on. Kannagi made the dough last night, but the power has been blinking on and off for the past 24 hours. Hung up the laundry.

Fed Dalton a chapatti with peanut butter for lunch. Maggie wanted corn and cold water. Maggie drew some pictures on her daily journal paper and I helped her write about it while Dalton colored. Started another load of laundry. Lay on the rug singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm and Little Dalton Had a Zoo. Changed Dalton’s diaper. Gave Dalton a bath.

Swept up cookie crumbs. Changed Dalton’s diaper. Did breakfast, lunch, colored water and cookie dishes. Hung up more laundry. Emptied the baby pool and washed it with bleach water. This whole time Maggie was reading The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Friends and Dalton was in the kids’ room tucking his cars under Maggie’s pillow in a neat line.

Read The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Friends to the kids. Put Dalton down for his nap. Played oxcart game (The Oregon Trail) with Maggie. Put Maggie in my room with her Legos for quiet time.

When Maggie finished Legos, I set up the water play for her. We did three different colors of ice cubes and now she is playing with clear water. After, I have two more school activities planned for Maggie (making an address book, and making letters using playdough). When Dalton wakes up I’m going to take them to the playground or for a walk around the building because we’ve been inside all day. Then we’re having leftover chicken/veg biriyani and cookies for dinner. Maggie needs a bath, then bedtime!

Once the kids are in bed, I’ll do the dinner dishes, take a shower, and John and I will probably watch a show, or take a walk around the building. I am reading a book Rachel sent me, so I’ll probably read some of that before bed.

There’s my exciting day/blog post!

Would you like fat with that?: A few weeks ago, Kannagi called me as I was on my way home from shopping. "I can't understand what Maggie wants and she is crying," she said. She thought maybe Maggie wanted to bake the chapatti. She put Maggie on the phone.

"I want to eat butter with bacon!" Maggie cried. I burst out laughing and told Kannagi to give Maggie a roll with some butter to dip it in.

A few days before, we had pea soup with bacon and rolls, and Maggie just loved dipping her bacon in the butter for her roll. Yum.

In India But Not Of It: I know a few people here who seem to be pretending they're not in India. If you can spend 95% of your time in Air Conditioning, then maybe you won't notice it's not the US! But then why did you come?

You might ask the same of me. I have my complaints about living here. India is anything but convenient - one hassle after another. We came here to experience India, not to hide from it. Yes, I could pay someone to do my shopping and never leave the house, but what's the point? Everyday cultural experiences are just as much a part of this as taking all the right pictures and getting all the right passport stamps.

Camel Saddles: Yesterday we went to a birthday party where the kids got to ride a camel, play on the bouncy slide, and take home a set of tiny animals/dinosaurs that Kerri picked out just for them, and which they LOVE.

Growing up my mom had a little seat that she called a camel saddle. I always wondered how it could possibly fit over a camel as a saddle. And now I know. Riding a camel with Dalton isn't easy. There were no seatbelts and really nothing to hold onto. Dalton started complaining that he was swinging back and forth and finally I had to grip the saddle with one hand and hold him with the other. Still, it's not every day you get to ride a camel.

Maggie School: I recently bought this summer program to use for home preschool activities for Maggie. We started this week and did lots of activities, some from the book and some I've just been meaning to do with her. Here are a few of the things we did.

Homemade bubbles and bubble wands
Cut letters from magazines and use them to spell words
Use counters to practice basic addition and subtraction
Make letters from playdough and spell names and words
Write in a daily journal (she draws a picture and then tells me what to write and she traces over my letters)
Make a family tree ("I did bad letters for your parents because your grandparents are dead.")
Water and ice sensory box
Word bingo
Build structures using gum drops and toothpicks/skewers. I took pictures of this, but the gum drops were pretty soft so it wasn't a fabulous activity.

We also played some hopscotch. More on this soon!

[Comments] (1) Mother's Day Quotes: I got sweet little cards and flowers for Mother's Day.

On the way out the door:
Maggie: I'm going to buy you flowers, Mommy!
...
John: Surprise!

When making the cards:
John: Let's write three reasons you love Mommy.
Maggie: I don't love Mommy. She's mean to me. She gives me time outs.

More Quotes: Daddy: Want to go to a beach called Goa in 18 days?
Maggie: Daddy, you ever hear of a beach called Gondola? You have to ride on a swing. You can ride on a zebra. You can ride on a monkey. You can ride on a crocodile and it won't snap you.

I also saw a sign on a painted flyover that said, "Keep your city beautiful. Do not defecate the wall."

Good to Be Home: We went to lunch with Daddy today. When we got home, I was so happy to open the door. The apartment was light and breezy and it smelled good. Even though there were toys all over the place, I was happy to be coming home to a nice place.

Summertime: According to Kannagi, summer is the time of year when everyone in India gets sick. Her grandson is sick, and John heard lots of coughing at work.

According to John's coworkers, there are many other reasons we are all sick. It's raining (2 days after we got sick). The weather changed. We drank cold water. It's Wednesday. Or, more likely, John spends his days in other people's cubicles with their germs, and Dalton spends his Sunday afternoons in nursery with runny nosed kids.

Anyway, we all have colds and my throat hurts very badly and John has been staying home to rest/take care of me and Kannagi made us food.

[Comments] (1) This Week With Maggie: Here are some of the fun things we did at home this week. Since we spent a good part of it being sick, we also did lots of lying around, show-watching, and reading.

drew our own stamps
made a get well card for Daddy
practiced adding with counting beads
ABC scavenger hunt during a drive
made a postcard to send to Colette
"exercised" - we made a jar of exercises and yoga poses and drew a few things from it each day.
fingerpainting with chocolate pudding
practiced sight words
traced circles
added to our eggs or no eggs chart
And Maggie colored an eggs or no eggs picture to quiz me with.

I posted pictures of a few of these things.

Sandeep Says: This climate is only not proper, ma'am.

Meaning, the weather's bad.

[Comments] (1) A Different Kind of Smart: With Dalton starting nursery, I recalled that when Maggie started nursery, she said her first word. Really? Dalton knows dozens of words! Not to mention signs and animal noises, which Maggie knew plenty of (Dalton does know more signs than Maggie did as a baby). He has started repeating words all the time, too. He does not, however, know his colors (though he can repeat the names) and he is not afraid of new clothes. He doesn't like long-sleeves though, a drawback of year-round nice weather. The new long-sleeve jammies have Buzz Lightyear on them, though, so he got used to it.

Anyway, back to listing all the words Dalton can say. In the five minutes it took me to type the above, he repeated paint and green and said: on, off, please and color.
car
ball
Pooh
this
please
milk
juice
cracker (he was saying this around his 1st birthday)
cheese
book
woah
sandwich
chocolate
egg
dressed
change
dirty
water
drink
bath
duck
on
off
mama
dada
papa
fish
giraffe
paper
bird
kiss
empty
all gone/all done
boat
light
hi
bye
hot
banana
wash
up
rock
bye
star(this is the only shape he knows)
He can also make the sound of each letter of the alphabet (by sight or letter name) and name many of the letters.

Typing all this makes me think maybe it's time to try a video again, so here you go! Here's the "baby Maggie" words video, taken a couple weeks before her first real word.

Update: Last night after I posted this, Dalton started labeling all the green things "geen".

No!: You might have noticed a very common toddler word missing from Dalton's vocabulary - "no!" In fact, just before I took a video of Dalton saying "die!" he said it for the first time. Kannagi asked if he wanted to go to the playground and the answer was an emphatic "No!" accompanied by head-shaking, and running to get his sandals.

[Comments] (1) Leaps and Bounds: Since I last blogged about Dalton (2 days ago), he's figured out how to climb out of his crib, open the bedroom doors, and shown a big interest in feeding himself with a spoon, which he's pretty good at. He also has a new tooth.

Goodbye, Cruel World: Hellooooo vacation! Inclusive resort, warm weather, short flight, not-Bangalore, bathtub, fancy hotel, kid's club, pool, private beach, ocean, shell-gathering, sand castles, Arabian Sea, immigration-free, off season, delicious vacation.

We are bringing capris, skirts, harem pants, shorts, swimming suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, beach toys, [malaria pills], Sudoku, the Kindle, passports, and that's about it!

[Comments] (1) The Goan Way: Back from the beach! We had a great trip in Goa. I've never stayed at a resort before. It was awesome! Like a cruise ship without the seasickness. Here are some thoughts from our trip.

The food was really expensive. We prepaid $60/day for lunch and dinner (breakfast was included) and we had to be really frugal to stay within budget. We got ice cream cones one day and they charged Rs. 660 for two cones - $15! We had a huge sunken tub in our room, one of the highlights of the trip. The resort does daily mosquito fogging. No mosquito bites at all - yay!

It was nice not to be the only people wearing swimming suits. In fact, I only once saw people swimming in their clothes, and it was at the beach. I don't think clothes are allowed in the pool.

The lounge chairs were the best part. The pool boys set them up for you, with a nice cushion and a towel to lay on and another towel to dry off with, and an umbrella overhead. They were soooo comfortable.

They did a good job of making the kids comfortable. When they made up a crib for Dalton, the folded a comforter under the sheet, and folded another sheet for a blanket for him, and brought a little pillow. They also brought us baby toiletries and a squeaky toy for the bathroom. And - yay - they had highchairs at the restaurants.

Maggie and I had a great time hunting for shells. We found lots of "pokey shells" but they were hard to wash out and really stank so we only kept a few. She also found a couple 2 Rupee coins and a piece of foreign currency (we can't tell what it is). And she likes to tell the story of the ocean bringing her a coconut. There were small, clear-ish crabs scuttling everywhere, and when the waves receded, we could watch dozens of tiny clams digging their way back under the sand. Also, we found a small, dead fish and later watched as a bird came and carried it away. They also had jetskiing and para-sailing at the beach. The water was warm, the sand was smooth. The shoreline varied so much that it was hard with Dalton - the waves came in and out in a span of 10 meters or more, so sometimes you'd be dry and sometimes you'd be up to your waist in water.

I liked the resort employees uniforms. The front desk staff wore white - the waiters and housekeeping staff wore white shirts with pyjamas (or wrap skirts for the women) in plaid. The grounds staff wore capri overalls, and saris for the women (the only women wearing saris). And the pool boys wore blue shirts and white capris and crocs. Everyone but the pool boys had matching leather roman sandals.

Here's our typical day:
bath
breakfast
beach
pool
lunch
nap/gym/kid's club
swim
bath
dinner
bed

Our first day there, while lying around at the beach, Maggie ran up to John and gave him a big hug and said, "Thanks for Hong Kong Disneyland!" John said, "Where are we?" and she paused a minute and said"just kidding! I was just kidding." So sweet.

[Comments] (3) AIDS Conspiracy: Yesterday I was browsing free Kindle books, and I came across a book that claimed AZT causes AIDS and that the FDA and drug companies knew this and allowed it to happen because of greed. Really? Please enlighten me if you know more about this. I admit to youth and ignorance in the 80s, but was still surprised by this conspiracy theory (the book's reviews and a quick google search led me to more reasonable and researched explanations). I guess I shouldn't be surprised; after all, my mom had AIDS and the drug companies killed her.

The drugs and cocktails she took ate away at her stomach lining until she couldn't digest food properly. This led to frequent vomiting, constant nausea, and 3 years of intravenous total parenteral nutrition. When her body quit absorbing the TPN, it was removed and she died shortly after. So, yes, I suppose the drugs did kill her. Fourteen years after AIDS killed my dad.

Fourteen years during which she lived, worked, enjoyed her furballs and flowers, raised her kids, and touched hundreds of students, coworkers, friends, neighbors, church members, and relatives. I can't say I mind so much that the drugs killed her rather than AIDS.

At the same time I wrote this blog entry, several of my cousins were visiting my parents' grave. Was the earth disturbed? I have a feeling there's a run-on sentence in this post that has Mom turning.

[Comments] (1) Maggie on Using Flotation Devices: You stick your bum in and get it stuck and then you move and float and you just float.

Sunday: For some reason Maggie really didn't want to go to church today. We had a tough time getting her dressed, and she cried when it was time for Primary. We ended up setting her up next to me at the piano, where I insisted she listen and sing along.

Apparently, John got kicked out of nursery. I have no problem with a "no parents in the nursery" rule, but then you have to let the kid do more than squawk before you bring them out.

I'm making soup and rolls for dinner. I hope the rolls turn out ok. I followed the recipe, which didn't include proofing the yeast, but I used chunky Indian yeast.

Babies and Kids:
Maggie: Dalton is a baby boy.
Me: What are you?
Maggie: I'm a kid girl.

I explained the word "birth" to her, and how it relates to "birthday" and being born.
Maggie, later: Being born is for kids and babies only.

There is no cheese in India: The kids are watching a brand new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD and eating marshmallows.

Sandeep just delivered Shaun's luggage! He had sent ahead an express package with some of our wishlist, but now we have everything! Except for pepperoni and bacon. No pork.

But we did get: 5 DVDs I ordered from Amazon, marshmallows, poptarts, a box of goldfish, giants bags of Sour Patch Kids, Skittles and Swedish Fish, taco seasoning, ranch dressing mix, black beans, brown sugar, onion soup mix, macaroni and cheese, corn syrup, spray sunscreen and enchilada sauce.

I had to lock myself in the bathroom and hide the DVDs in a towel, because the kids were following me around wanting to know what was in the suitcase. We will strategically distribute the other three.

Speaking of stuff, we also recently got a box from Jamie with tons of scrapbooking supplies and some candy, and a box from Rachel with fun new books and basil seeds.

: When we first moved to India, Maggie called Sandeep "Sun Beep." Now Dalton has started saying his name, the first he's said besides Mama, Dada and Papa. He says, "Bip!" It's too cute.

We think Dalton might call Maggie "iss" for Sissy, but I'm not 100% sure.

: I sent Maggie to Monkey Maze with Kannagi this afternoon and they were gone for three hours!

In the morning, we went to the central children's library. Half the books there are in Hindi and another third are in Kannada, which leaves 15% or so of English books, almost all of which are encyclopedias. They also had some ride-on toys, etc every single one of which was broken. Dalton was more than happy to sit in a wheel-less car and screamed when I took him away.

[Comments] (4) Secret Keeping: The kids and I picked out a Father's Day present for John today. I coached Maggie on not telling him what it was. Later, we practiced.

*knock knock*
Me: Maggie, it's me, Daddy! Did you buy me any presents while I was gone?
Maggie: Yes!
Me: What was it?
Maggie: I'm not going to tell you!
Me: What if I tickle you? *tickle* I'm going to tickle you until you tell me!
Maggie: It was a ______!
Me: You're not supposed to tell him! Let's try again.

*knock knock*
Me: Maggie, it's me, Daddy! Did you buy me any presents while I was gone?
Maggie: Yes!
Me: What was it?
Maggie: I'm not going to tell you!
Me: What if I tickle you? *tickle* I'm going to tickle you until you tell me! What was it?
Maggie: I dunno!
Me: What was it? *tickle*
Maggie: I dunno! It was a ______!
Me: *sigh*
Maggie: A ____________!!!

Now: Maggie: How about you pretend to be the Daddy. And I will be in the house.
We'll see how this goes.

*repeat to tickling*
Maggie: I'm not gonna tell you! *grabs a book off the bed* It was a book!
Me: You bought me a book?
Maggie: Yeah! A book. And a ________!
Me: Oh dear.
Maggie: A ______!!!!!

[Comments] (3) Picture It: John took the camera on his trip with Shaun, and I am feeling a little naked without it. But I can't wait to see pictures from Goa and Hampi.

Anyway, here is Dalton this morning: He's hiding in the curtain wearing Buzz & Woody jammies and Mickey Mouse sunglasses and holding a Lightning McQueen frisbee.

He's starting insisting on sleeping with cars. The first time I said, "No! I don't want you to get into that habit." Then I remembered that Maggie used to insist on, not only 5 Piglets, but three books, one of which had to be Goodnight Moon. And if the book fell down behind the bed in the night, we'd have to crawl under and get it out. So I let Dalton have his cars. He plays quietly before falling asleep and after waking up. Yay.

Real Job vs. Parenting: Maggie has been so ornery today. I won't go into detail, but a lot of screaming and time outs happened. I complained to Rachel.

Rachel: aww
poor you
does this make you feel better. my colleague just closed a document that he has been working on all day without saving
me: gah! yes that makes me feel better
there's a mysterious wet spot on the couch. Does that make him feel better?
Rachel: herm
me: lol

A Boy and His Cars: Today we went to the Shiva temple in Bangalore again. We just bought one activity ticket between us, so Dalton and I sat on the ground under the umbrellas with other "devotees." Dalton readily made friends with a dozen people sitting around us. One older lady settled next to us and fed Dalton bits of her coconut. He blew her kisses and brightened her day.

I am amazed at how friendly that boy is. So happy to see people, so willing to sit with them, go to them, wave to them, yell "Die!" at them, blow them kisses. The ladies just love him, and so do I.

Dalton is really into cars. Really. Other than the occasional book, ball, and of course his stuffed animals, he really just wants to play cars. He lines them up, tucks their front ends under pillows, and drives them up and down my arms. He has started asking for some to sleep with. Of course I let him have some. Not only does it keep him playing quietly in his crib for a while but I seem to recall Maggie sleeping with 5 Piglets and 3 books, one of which had to be Goodnight Moon. And if any of those items fell of her bed in the night, we'd never hear the end of it until we moved her bed away from the wall and dug her book out. I can handle a couple of cars.

We joked that he learned the sign for Train on our trip to Hampi, the word Boat in Hong Kong and the word Airplane in Goa. Since then he's learned Bus. Bus this, bus that. There are a LOT of busses in Bangalore and Dalton points out every single one. I was picturing him as a baby and have a hard time remembering a time when he didn't point at everything and yell out it's name. Bus! Dog! Airplane! Bus! Bus! Maggie thinks it's hilarious and sometimes imitates him doing it.

Secret Keeping Update: This is how it played out.

John: Did you buy me a tie?
Maggie: Yes.
John: What color is it?
Maggie: I'm not gonna tell you!

Also, she and John and blowing bursts of air at each other.
Maggie: Daddy, you poo in my mouth.

Dalton's First Sentence: Maggie has been playing "Birds" this week, moving on from "Horsies." This might have something to do with having watched Rio. Yesterday she was flapping around like a bird, so I picked her up and carried her airplane-style around the room.

Dalton, watching from the sidelines, said, "Da Da Tuh!" Which of course means, "Please carry me around like a bird after Maggie is finished" or "Dalton's turn!" It didn't sound like much, but I know that's what he said because the day before I said, "Dalton's turn?" and he repeated it back to me. He repeats everything. Be warned.

[Comments] (1) India in 3D: I took the kids to the science museum yesterday. I sprung for the 3D movie (less than $1 for two of us). It was the worst 3D movie I've ever seen and it was hilarious. The first five minutes I couldn't decide if this was a really long ad for the 3D movie company, of if this was the "science movie". They showed clips of advertisements, crash test dummies, undersea life etc, along with the company's logo. It was really weird. And apparently it was just a really long ad.

Then there was a 5 minute 3D claymation short, "Ali Baba's tale". Basically, Aladdin, condensed. Then there was a 5 minute dinosaur show, where you run around dinosaur world seeing things, but in the background someone kept saying, "Your power has been restored." And at the end we were sterilized. ??? Finally there was a "magic show" that was more of a science show. I couldn't tell if it was badly dubbed or if the sound was a bit off. The magic consisted of a fake animated skull (and the scientist turns into the skull at the end), flying robots, and cloning a small white mouse into dozens of big, brown rats. Hmm. The end!

The 3D goggles were really dark, and I had a hard time seeing the film anyway. Dalton sat still the entire time, and Maggie loved it. The dinosaur bit was a little scary and she held my hand. But Dalton, who freaks out at the animatronic dinosaur exhibit, didn't mind one bit. Maybe because he wasn't wearing the goggles.

Dalton Narrates Tangled: Horse! Mooooo! Ribbit! Bubbles! Ribbit! Lights!

Bookworm Jr.: Today the kids and I went to a nearby bookstore and spent an hour browsing around. They had tons of fun kid books. Most Indian books are moral stories. There are also a few series on "fairy tales" or stories of the gods. Then there's retellings of Disney movies and things Americans would call fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel et al). Everything else is pretty much nonfiction. Indian kids must really like kid encyclopedias and dictionaries.

This store had a section on board books, and some Dr. Seuss, and some workbook. There was a giant book on birds that I really wanted to get Maggie. It was cool, and had a big kingfisher on the cover, but we don't need a giant book. We picked out a tame moral story and a nonfiction book about dinosaurs. The dinosaur book is actually really good - and entirely accurate (as of 2011). It doesn't even say "used to be known as Brontosaurus". Of course, it's an Usborne book, sold for 3.99lbs elsewhere. The moral story, Granny's Sari, was only $.50, but I thought we should collect some Indian books to bring home, and this one was pretty unique without being a cartoon about a god.

I also bought a Barbie in a sari. Hopefully hers is easier to put on than mine.

Easter Egg + Dinosaurs = Fun: Mom! The parasaurolophus that says honk with a crest on its head is pasching! [hatching]

Night Night!: When we got home from a long search for a frozen yogurt place in Koramangala, Dalton held out his feet for me to take his shoes of, threw his car into the crib, grabbed his alligator and elephant, and climbed into his crib. You would think I hadn't been carrying him the entire time.

This morning we read Goodnight Moon. Or, he flipped the pages (usually backwards) as quickly as he could while I tried to keep up. He repeated and signed as much as he could. He recently learned the sign for mouse, which is brushing your finger on the tip of your nose twice. Now he has a sign for "hush" which is sticking his finger up his nose.

Now he is pretending a tube of oragel is a car. Crazy boy.

Mommy Knows.: The kids got up at 6:15 today. I made them go back to bed. I told Maggie it was still night time and her shows weren't on yet. At 6:45 I finally got up with her and we turned on the TV. And she started crying because her show wasn't on!

Making English Muffins for breakfast.

[Comments] (1) Dr. Seuss Funnies: A lot of times when I read rhyming books to Maggie, I leave off the last word for her to fill in. One of our bedtime stories tonight was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

All I like to do is hop
from finger top
to finger top one.

they walked all night
from near to far.
I would never walk.
I would take a auto.

Oops: "Mom, we forgot to go to Bangkok."

I counted that 11 of my last 13 blog entries (now 12/14) were just anecdotes from the kids, so I figured I'll just keep it coming.

[Comments] (2) Kingdom, Phylum, Unicorn: "It's a kind of a place where giraffes and zebras live. And horsies. And unicorns. And ponies. And pegasuses. And unicorn pegasuses."

[Comments] (2) :

[Comments] (3) Puja & Friends: I really like going to church in India. It's not like I look forward to Sundays, particularly. But every time we go, I remember how friendly everyone is, and how it feels like we don't stick out as much. We still stick out, but maybe people are used to us? It's nice to feel like I'm doing something useful when I accompany the Primary. I think my presence is making Maggie act out a bit, but she settles down for her class. And someone sat next to me in Relief Society. Like, right next to me, not one seat over!

Since I sometimes go the entire week without a meaningful conversation with anyone besides John, I really like the opportunity to hang out with so many people I have something in common with.

Poor India: Number of theaters Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 opened on in US: 4125. Population of US: 307,006,550 (one for every 75,000 people - times the number of screens it was shown on).

Number of screens Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is opening on in India: 600. Population of India: 1,155,347,700 (one for every 2 million people - divided by the four languages it will be shown in).

So deprived.

John and I will be at one of those 600 theaters, but we're going a week later for his birthday. By then it will be showing in maybe 200 theaters. Movies move fast here, because there are so many being churned out in 4 or 5 languages.

All-American Horse: Bullseye is making a mark in the sand (couch).

"He makes a square with his beak. Then he puts a W (from his webkins mark). Then he calls, 'USA! USA!'"

I don't even think Maggie knows what USA is, but now she is chanting it. And beak? Yes, even though she's playing with Bullseye, her focus is still birds.

[Comments] (1) Pros and Cons:

Con: Poor Sick Baby.
Pro: Sick Baby likes to snuggle.
Con: Snuggly Baby is hot.
Pro: Hot Baby sleeps off fever.
Con: Fever-free Baby up all night? Time will tell.

Desires of the Heart: Dear Heavenly Father
Thank you for this day
Thank you we can see Daddy
Thank you for ours blessings.
Bless us to go to a dinosaur place to see a different dinosaur place with a pterosaur, a patosaurus, a triceratops, a t rex, a dinosaur I dunno.
Name of Jesus Christ Amen.

I realized later she was looking at her dinosaur rug and naming off the dinosaurs as she prayed.

[Comments] (3) TII: This is the new phrase around here: This is India or TII. It's used when no other excuse or reason can possibly apply, or to vocalize frustration.

Today I was cooking quesadillas (with my suitcase-imported cheese) on our too-hot gas stove when suddenly it started POURING rain. Of course my laundry was hanging out still, so I ran to the balcony and hurriedly pulled off the pins and threw them and the clothes into the house while yelling at the kids to stay inside. Only in India - TII. Amazingly, my quesadilla did not burn.

People peeing on the side of the road. TII.

No stock. In 4 different grocery stores. TII

The electrician took one of our light fixtures to repair and never brought it back. TII

10 minutes to get to Indiranagar. 25 to get home. TII

Men wearing lungis and flipflops while doing construction. Oh, and babies taking naps at construction sites on the side of the road. TII

Dalton has perfected stepping over the cracks in the sidewalk (and the sewer). TII

[Comments] (1) Sandeep Says: "PG is also like same only." There's some Indian English for you.

Also, I think carrying wet cement in a shallow bowl on your head, barefoot might be the worst job ever.

[Comments] (1) Worse Job: I found one. There is a huge pile of muck, mud, trash, plant matter and sewage in the street outside our apartment. The canal/stream/sewer behind the building got cleaned out, and I'm sure it was done by hand. GROSS.

UPDATE: Picture here.

[Comments] (3) Scarf it Down: I bought a colorful scarf for $.75 and now I am one of those people (Rachel, Indians) who wear scarves in the summer.

: Mom, you like to look at the Tomatoes?
Tomatoes? Does she mean the pizza sauce? Maybe the red nose? What tomatoes?
The tomatoes right there. Pointing at Mr. & Mrs. Potato/Tomato Head.

[Comments] (2) There's a message in here somewhere: Maggie has started beginning each monologue with "Mommy! Listen to me." and ending with "Do you understand, Mommy?"

"Mommy! Listen to me. How about we get a leaf off a tree when it's little and we put it in a cup and when it gets big we eat it. Alright? You understand, Mommy? And we'll use the binoculars so the water doesn't get in our eyes and we see a thing. You try to catch a fish, then you catch a fish, when you get hungry, Mommy, I will give you a fish. You understand, Mommy? And when you see any fish in the water with the binoculars you will see when you see any fish and when you see a fish you try to catch a fish. When you didn't catch it they are too fast."

Etc.

Factoids: I bought Maggie two new books today - coloring books that also included "facts" about the animals. One was dot-to-dot birds with up to 70 dots to connect per bird - great counting practice. The other is "how to draw" dinosaurs. We spent much of Dalton's nap lying on the floor coloring.

The dinosaur book claims, "Pteranodon was the largest flying reptile. ... It didn't had teeth." [sic] It also contains the sentence "Baryonyx fish."

TII, and this book was published here.

[Comments] (1) Boy: Dalton is the same age Tyler was when I joined the Chadwick family, which may explain why nearly all his clothes are Tyler hand-me-downs. He's grown out most everything else. Little blond boy!

Some new words: rock, help, stop, wait, and "night night", which is especially cute when he pretends to sleep, or tucks Pooh into bed. Oh, and "head", as in "head shoulders knees and toes." He also says "Dinosaurs" but it sounds like "iss", which is also what he says for Maggie (sis).

Wrong Kind of Wax: I cleaned out Dalton's ears and found little pieces of blue crayon. Hmm.

[Comments] (1) Puddle Fun: I just posted some pictures of the kids playing in the rain puddles outside. We were bad examples and had half a dozen other kids splashing around by the time the building manager came and cleared the drain. No worries; there'll be more puddles tomorrow. It was totally fun. I only heard one person say they could get sick from it, and it was a little girl, shockingly not one of the maids.

Now the kids are having a "giant" bubble bath in their little inflatable pool. Really, it's still smaller than a regular bath tub, but they don't need to know that. They can figure it out for themselves in 3 days in Bangkok!

[Comments] (3) Rachel on Hair Bands: Leonard sent us a box of necessities as John's birthday present. Rachel accompanied him on a trip to Target to get everything on my list.

me: did you get me some nice hairbands? I am tired of these thin cheap Indian ones
Rachel: i got you the goody kind
the thick black ones
me: I knew I could trust you with that
Rachel: :)
i was like, to L, let me handle this

I still laugh thinking about this conversation and picturing Leonard in the hair accessories aisle at Target. The box arrived today, and I immediately redid my ponytail. Also included, in case you are wondering what "necessities" are: brown sugar poptarts, marshmallows, taco seasoning, ranch dressing mix, sugar-free drink mixes, bobby pins, goldfish crackers, black beans, and two Handy Manny DVDs I got for free from Disney Movie Rewards. Leonard and Rachel also included some postcards, which Maggie and I enjoyed reading together.

[Comments] (3) Back from Bangkok: John has written an in-depth travelogue (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, return trip), if you're interested. Here are just a few of my thoughts on our awesome trip to Thailand, as well as a few cute things from the kids. You can see pictures here.

Maggie learning Indian English: I want to look out the window only! and I want to eat pizza only.
Maggie: That pool shape like a chrysalis.
Maggie: Look! The carpet goes all the way to the edge!
Maggie: A cloud! I'm not going!

Dalton, constantly: Bearbay! (Airplane)

Thai food in Thailand is better than Indian food in India. But still wasn't great.

John picks great hotels. The location was awesome - right next to all the malls, including the Siam Paragon which had a food court with 100 restaurants (seriously). We also took turns going out after the kids went to bed and checking out the night market and other shops.

The first day we went to an aquarium. It was really expensive - $100 for the three of us. But it included popcorn, a drink, a souvenir each, and the fish spa! They had a play place right next to the fish spa which was brilliant. We also go to feed sharks, but the sharks were not interested in the shrimp we were handing out. Instead the fish fought like crazy over them. They had penguins, giant spider crabs, sea otters, baby hammerhead sharks and more.

On the day of our tour to Ayutthaya, we went on a river cruise, saw huge turtles, and water monitors, animal-shaped topiaries, and rode on an elephant (because we can't do that in India). They also had an elephant show that was outstanding. The elephants hula-hooped, danced and more.

The next day we went to a safari park and marine park. It wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be, but was even better. You drive your car through the safari park to look at animals. You know, like a safari. We had booked a tour, but were the only people on it. So we had a driver, and an English-speaking guide to ourselves. The park had so many animals. There were dozens of zebras and giraffes, lions, tigers, bears, some rhinos, camels and more. After the safari we went into the marine park and saw some shows. Sea lions, dolphins, elephants painting and tight-rope walking, and orangutans. The orangutans do a "boxing" show, and I thought it was going to be like a cock fight. Luckily it was more for fun, but I wouldn't have called it fun. The trainers hit the orangutans and there were a lot of potty jokes. I did feel better when the orangutans hit (or kicked) the trainers back. We also saw walruses, polar bears, really a lot of crocodiles, huge fish, lots of birds, including a forest of free-range macaws, and smaller birds that you can feed from your hand. They also had tiger cubs that you could feed a bottle of milk to for $12.50. We went to look at them later, unattended and unlocked in their little zoo train cages. Best of all, we got to feed the giraffes! For $1.50 you can buy a bucket of sweet potatoes and bananas and feed them. That was my favorite thing in Bangkok - an unforgettable experience.

You just can't do things like leave tiger cages unlocked or let people feed giraffes with pointy sticks in the States.

We weren't even inside the Kolkatta airport when I heard Maggie scream. An Indian woman tried to pinch her. I sure didn't miss that in Bangkok. The kids (especially Dalton) got just as much or more attention, but Thais have a little more respect for space.

PS: You might notice in the pictures that we are still using our baby sling. Dalton can walk just as far or farther than Maggie, and he is getting heavy, but I like to carry him to keep him from getting too crazy, or if it's dirty or crowded. He even fell asleep in it a couple times on this trip. Seriously, I love my pouch sling. It folds up so tiny, I can wear it without him in it, or shove it in a backpack. It makes airport security easier. Actually, it makes just about everything about airports easier. I can handle more luggage when I've got him hands-free on my hip, rather than chasing him around. If you have a baby, you need one of these.

Mysore Again: As soon as Jodi arrived, we took off for Mysore. We stayed with Nagalakshmi (Leonard's mother-in-law) and saw all the sights in a couple days. Then we went to Wonder-La on the way home. The kids took turns throwing up, and Jodi and I both had colds. There was a bit of rain, but we slogged through and managed to see a lot.

We went straight to Mysore Palace. We walked hurriedly through the palace, then took Jodi on her long-awaited elephant ride. She rode with Maggie, then Maggie and I rode a camel, and Jodi and Dalton had a camel ride. Jodi also got a blessing from the elephant, which she says was the best elephant encounter ever (I'm hoping for two more during her visit). At this point they kicked us out, so we didn't get to have a look at the front of the palace, but we got what we came for.

We headed to Nagalakshmi's and had an Indian dinner she'd prepared. Yum! The next morning we went to Chamundi Hill. We walked around the temple, and did some souvenir shopping. Jodi's goal was to buy the weirdest thing possible for Franco, and I think we succeeded. We went straight to the Mysore Zoo. Maggie sat in the stroller the entire time. We especially enjoyed watching the giraffes.

After the zoo, we entrusted our lives to Sandeep (I guess we do that all the time) and let him take us to a hotel for lunch. In India, the word "hotel" is often used for "restaurant" but this was actually a hotel restaurant. We had a South Indian thali - a meal with rice, Indian bread, and little dishes with all kinds of gravies. It was really good, and only one or two things were too spicy for us.

After lunch we went to Devaraja Market and did some more souvenir shopping, as well as sight-seeing. We bought a couple more things. Maggie screamed for apple juice. We went to a grocery store and finally found some. Since it was still early and the kids had already missed a nap, we went to the Rail Museum on Sumana's recommendation. The kids loved it! There is a train ride, and lots of train cars and engines that the kids can climb in, pretend to drive, lean out the windows etc. They had a really good time.

We had Pizza Hut for dinner, and an Indian breakfast the next morning. Then we headed out, and stopped at Wonder La on our way home. We forced Dalton onto a couple kiddie rides, went on the Sky Wheel, and then to the water park. We got to go in the Ladies & Kids only pools, which was fun. Dalton went down a water slide by himself, but Maggie was too busy whining. This time they let us take Dalton on the lazy river, so we went twice (dragging Maggie on the first time, and off the second). Then it was time for the wave pool, so we did that until we were too cold and tired. It was a long drive home, but John heated dinner up for us, and had bought flowers and an adorable Kyli-sized dress.

Maggie threw up all night, so we stayed home this morning and John took Jodi and Dalton to church. I'm very happy that Jodi took Dalton (who is also still sick) to Relief Society and that he snuggled her. I don't have to worry about him warming back up to his aunties and uncles!

[Comments] (2) Fish Spa: Jodi and I went to a spa today and did a fish spa. They washed our feet and we put them in a tank of warm water with little fish, who eat the dead skin off your feet. It is tickly and kind of scratchy. We spent 10 minutes giggling like idiots, 10 minutes enjoying it, and 10 minutes enjoying the free shoulder massage that comes with the 30 minutes fish spa. It was about $25 for both of us, and totally worth it. One of the best things I've done in India.

We did do a little fish spa at the aquarium in Thailand, but the spa had a lot more fish, plus it was just the two of us. Also, the place smelled really good.

Ruins, Monkeys, and Fireflies: Jodi and I returned this morning from a trip to the Hampi Ruins. We took the night train there (first class) and it was pretty nice. We headed straight out to the ruins and saw just about everything that first day. We ate twice at the Mango Tree, did some walking, and really enjoyed being girls on our own (with our English-speaking driver, of course).

Susie: I wonder if we'll get our picture taken as much without the kids.
Random person: One snap?
Susie: I guess that answers that question.

We had our picture taken a dozen or so times. Some people asked. Some didn't. I was also asked for my autograph, which is a first.

We stayed at the Royal Orchid hotel, which had a really nice shower and insanely comfortable beds. We watched Prince of Persia at night, then a horrible, hilarious, dubbed Chinese film in the morning. The second day, we visited the temple, where Jodi got to spend some quality time with Lakshmi (the elephant), feeding her bananas we'd bought.

Since we'd seen everything we were interested in, we ended up taking a boat across the river, and hiking 680 steps up Anjanadri hill to see a view of Hampi valley. The hike wasn't as hard as we'd anticipated, but we had to pass too many monkeys too close for comfort. We'd paid an auto driver to take us there, wait for us, and return us to the boat dock. We asked him to stop so we could walk the last km. He said, "Why?"

We had to wait over half an hour for the boat to come get us. (TII) By the time we made it across, the ruins were closed. We climbed up on top of riverside ruin that still had a roof and lay there for half an hour. Then we went to the Mango Tree for dinner, where we hung out for two hours. One of the waiters walked us back to the road, through the banana plantation with a flashlight. He showed us fireflies, which are apparently huge, fat beetles. At this point we realized our driver had been sitting outside the gate for 7 hours, since bringing us to the Mango Tree for lunch. We made it to the train station, and our train was only half an hour late.

We couldn't get first class on the way back, and unfortunately, it was a lot harder to sleep in second class. A few stops after us, a couple guys came and slept in the bunks above us, slinging their stuff on our beds and snoring, and there was a kid talking loudly for hours across the way. The train got in to Bangalore at 6:10 am. Bleh.

Pretend Gods: John and the kids are still not feeling great. John went to work late, we left Dalton home with Kannagi, and Jodi and I took Maggie to the ISKCON temple. I had a difficult time explaining some of it to Maggie, and ended up calling the idols "pretend gods". Then Maggie, being 4 and grumpy, yelled, "I don't want them to give flowers to the pretend gods!" Luckily, no one understood her, or heard her over the chanting.

In the car, Jodi and I read through some of the free literature we got and questioned Sandeep about it. I asked Sandeep who his family god was, then Maggie announced, "I don't have a god." I told her that our God is Heavenly Father, which she seemed to accept for a few minutes. Then, she decided, "Sandeep is my god!"

We went to lunch at UB City, where Maggie perked up. She ate some food, watched a cat eagerly, and begged to play in the fountain. Then, I broke my rule about never going to Kids Kemp again. We didn't have time to go to Commercial Street, so even though it is expensive and full of pushy salespeople, we ended up there. I pushed back and somehow we got out of there in 20 minutes with one shirt, which Jodi loves. Maggie was happy there. There was a dwarf in a SCARY clown outfit and mask handing out popcorn and cotton candy. She lounged on the couches and played with the salespeople. Amazing what a little popcorn will do.

When we got home, we walked down to the Fancy Shop to buy some bangles for Jodi and Kyli. Maggie whined the whole time. Only one more day left with Aunt Jodi!

[Comments] (1) A Monkey in the Kitchen: We went to the zoo today, so when Maggie walked by the kitchen and said, "Mom, there's a monkey in our kitchen. It's eating our food!" I thought she was kidding. Then I heard something rustling. I peeked around the corner and it HISSED at me!

I threw Maggie and my purse (didn't want to get locked out) out the door and looked to see if I could get it out, but it was sitting by my broom. I finally knocked next door and a couple neighbors came with a broom and chased it out onto the balcony and locked the door. We live on the fourth floor, by the way (5th floor in US terms).

He helped himself to some Goldfish and pumpkin muffins (both in containers), and climbed on the fridge, counter, and microwave. He sat on the balcony for a few minutes finishing off one of the muffins. Maggie was really upset that he ate some of our food and broke the muffins. She picked up all the goldfish and put them back in the container. She says it was really scary, but I think she was mostly upset about the food, and I think she was a little freaked out because I was scared.

John, Jodi, and Dalton had walked down to the internet cafe to print something. Luckily - I would have had a much more difficult time with Dalton home, and Jodi is really afraid of the monkeys.

I've never seen a monkey anywhere near our neighborhood, but now I will be very cautious. TII. I did take pictures of it. Once it was behind glass, Maggie wasn't afraid one bit.

Hot & Cold: This morning I went to the post office, bread store, vegetable store, and meat store, four stops I wouldn't have had to make if my grocery shopping trip yesterday had been to Wal-mart. I miss one-stop shopping.

Also, why is the cold storage store so HOT?

After shopping, I took the kids to a new play place we discovered that is quite near our flat. It was also nicer, more fun, cleaner, and cheaper than the other ones we've been to. Yay! The play place was above a bank. The security guard was very interested in saying hi to Dalton and came over, toting his huge rifle.

So, there's one good thing about living here. 10 more weeks.

I Am Dinosaur, Hear Me Roar: Is "I'm a carnivore" a valid excuse for not eating her lettuce?

What about if she says it with a mouthful of carrot?

Today's Excursion: Dalton insisted on walking outside the gates, rather than our usual "walk around the building." The kids waved to their coconut-seller friend, and we encountered a turkey who lives at a fancy spa/salon down the road. He puffed up his feathers trying to scared us off, and it worked on Dalton. We went back and walked around the building. We discovered seeds dripping from some type of palm, and Dalton picked his usual two yellow flowers (one for each hand, of course). Then we found huge red flowers and tons of seeds falling off a giant tree. The kids also picked up all the plumeria flowers they could find, so I got out the nature box for them to play with.

We ended with two extra elevator rides so we could collect a postcard from Aunt Rachel. Bonus!

: I wore my new sari to church today. The ladies complimented me, not only on putting it on myself, but that I bothered.

It's kind of opalescent cream color, with a light blue border. It poufs when I sit down and feels like a princess dress. At least it did until Dalton wiped his chocolate cake mouth on it. He also tried to bite it. I found two new teeth coming out. Perhaps sari gnawing feels good on the gums.

Dalton: There are lots of new little Dalton quirks to write about. First of all, his vocabulary is astounding. He's starting using phrases like "more crackers please" and "swimming pool" (is that a phrase?) and identifying things by color, such as "black shirt". Speaking of which, since I last updated about him, he's learned all the colors and a few shapes. He also does that adorable toddler pretend counting. "Mun. Bive. Eight." He recently became very interested in Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and so learned lots of body parts. He also knows clothing items and tries to help get himself dressed/undressed.

He repeats any word I say to him, so he is always learning new words. Some of my favorite things he does/says are:

"Right there!"
Leaning out the car window to wave at people.
"Lighting McQueen" (A boo-ing)
"Yay!" and cheer whenever I sing ABCs to him.
"bep bep" (the sound cars make. He says this not only in pretend play, but when we're driving.)
"Yeah"
"uh in" (Muffin)
"Heh Hep. Bawoo!" (Elephant)

Appreciating What We Have: I can't forget when we visited a park in Hong Kong and Maggie said, "Wow! This park has grass!"

Nor when we checked into our hotel in Bangkok and she announced, "Look! The carpet goes all the way to the wall!"

It's the little things.

[Comments] (3) "Trick or Lettuce!" and Other Fun: The only vegetable Dalton will eat is okra.

19 books read in August.

I heard screaming this afternoon. Dalton. Real crying, so I went to see what Maggie had done to him. He was stuck in the hiking carrier. I got him out, and realized he was holding all of his stuffed animals. Maggie was packing hers into the bag attached to the carrier. Apparently they were taking a trip!

"Mommy, do you think Heavenly Father can fix Grandma June?" Out of nowhere, in the car. By the time I was done explaining, she was telling me about the latest dinosaur place.

Faceplant: Dalton occupied himself a good while by rolling a metal can around the house. Then the can slipped out from under him and he landed on the tile floor.

I got a good snuggle out of it, though!

You Know a Dinosaur Called...: I've convinced Maggie that a dinosaur with a toe claw on its head, actually has a head claw. I think the day is off to a good start.

[Comments] (1) Going Somewhere?: Dalton walked around this morning in Daddy's slippers waving, "Die! Die!" Then he picked up the monster bag full of puzzles and slung it over his arm. "Die!"

"Where are you going?" John asked.

"Airplane." Of course.

[Comments] (2) I Want to Be in Number 7: Leonard introduced me to a site called The Kid Should See This. Every day they post a video or two that is beyond the kiddie show scope, but not beyond the not-underestimated kid. We have really enjoyed watching most of the videos shared there. If you have kids, check it out.

Today we watched Louis Armstrong sing "When the Saints Go Marching In." Maggie wasn't terribly interested in the video, but she was very curious what the number was. "What number?" she kept asking. She also remembered that this song is played on one of the Meet the Sight Word DVDs.

[Comments] (2) Unlikely But True: During her visit, Jodi and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: If you'd asked me ten years ago where I would be when I turned 30, I think "on a houseboat in the Keralan backwaters in South India" would have been the third to last thing I would have said.
Jodi: "Third to last"?
Susie: I think Antarctica is less likely. Surely there's something else.

[Comments] (2) Turning 30 - My Unbucket List: I've accomplished a lot in my just-about-30 years. So rather than lament my age, or even make grandiose plans for the next decade, I've decided to celebrate 30 of my many accomplishments over the last 30 years. Some of them aren't anything special, but 30 is a big number!

Earned a B.S. in Recreational Therapy.
Gave birth to two wonderful children.
Lived in 3 different countries on 3 different continents.
Performed (singing, piano, organ, and flute) in front of hundreds of people.
Taught myself how to sew, crochet, embroider, and cook.
Found and married my perfect match.
Read thousands of books.
Mounted the uneven bars.
Sang back-up to Reba McEntire.
Been to the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, South China Sea, Laccadive Sea, Black Sea, English Channel, and Gulf of Alaska.
Been to Canada, Mexico, England, France, The Netherlands, Romania, Denmark, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and (at 30 + 2 weeks) UAE.
Been to California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Idaho, Illinois, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Virginia, D.C., Alaska and New York.
Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
Attended General Conference in the Tabernacle and the Conference Center.
Type over 90 WPM.
Ridden a horse bareback.
Taught games to teenage gangsters.
Made covenants in the House of the Lord.
Dissected a human body.
Lived in a Californian vineyard, eating warm grapes from the vines.
Devoted my time exclusively to serving others (though not nearly for long enough).
Had 56 roommates.
Become a writer.
Swam in an irrigated field.
Ran a 5K.
Made some really awesome homemade toys.
Taught piano.
Hiked hundreds of miles.
Sewn wearable clothes.
Made my babies smile.

Kerala: Just a few funny signs from our trip to Kerala, as John pretty much covered everything else.

Doormatery (I can only assume this is a 'dormitory')
Pee Pee's Lubricants
Furnichure Store
A billboard advertising a TV showed a giraffe leaning out of the TV toward the kids on the couch, sticking out it's pink tongue.
An "Olive Garden Restaurant" logo with the "Olive" edited out.

[Comments] (2) The Kiddos: Dalton had his first calimari in Kerala. He loved it and gobbled up the rest of the plate.

Maggie likes to make up new dinosaurs and describe them to us. Some of them include "Dinosaurasaurus", "Whatasaurus" and, my favorite, "Pteranodon Rex." She's quite a clever girl.

Dalton, somewhere, has learned the number 4 and started pointing it out everywhere. Meanwhile, Maggie has learned to add. I introduced the concept a while ago using some activities from the summer program I bought, and now she's got the concept down and loves to practice. She asks me addition questions all the time.

And that's how you get things done around here: Over two months ago I blogged that the electrician had taken one of our light fixtures and never brought it back. When the other two fixtures in our front room also died, John emailed HR to take care of it since calling the landlord's driver or maintenance doesn't do any good and we're not supposed to call the landlord. And what do you know? They brought it back today.

Sheesh.

Tension-Free Shifting: I spent a couple hours on Sunday afternoon doing a dry run (messy run) of packing our stuff to go home. If we get two big boxes to use as checked baggage, I think we can take it all with us. Most of the clothes we brought are staying here. Our kids have basically nothing that fits and is appropriate for November weather in Utah. We are looking forward to some fun shopping trips when we get home.

I also did some scrapbooking. I've finished all the pictures of our trips that I've printed (haven't printed Kerala yet) and I just have a few more pages of Bangalore pics left. It is entirely possible that I will go home with up-to-date, completed scrapbook pages. And now that I said that, I think I've challenged myself.

7 days until Dubai! Maggie and John have been making a new countdown sign each morning to hang on the door. I hope our kids don't get wanderlust when we move home and they realize we don't normally travel every three weeks. Especially since John will be doing a lot of travelling after we get home.

Maggiesaurus: Maggie was naming off the types of dinosaurs that came from some (imaginary) eggs, and I thought I'd write down all the dinosaurs she can identify. She had fun making the list with me.

  1. dimetrodon (not a dinosaur)
  2. stegosaurus
  3. triceratops
  4. ornithomimus
  5. tyrannosaurus rex
  6. allosaurus
  7. corithosaurus
  8. dilophosaurus
  9. spinosaurus
  10. plesiosaur (generic water reptile, not a dinosaur)
  11. plateosaurus
  12. iguanadon
  13. apatosaurus
  14. brachiosaurus
  15. giganotosaurus
  16. velociraptor
  17. styracosaurus
  18. kentrosaurus
  19. pterodactyl (pterosaur, not a dinosaur)
  20. pteranodon (pterosaur, not a dinosaur)
  21. quetzlecoatlus (pterosaur, not a dinosaur)
  22. argentinosaurus
  23. ankylosaurus
  24. confucisornis
  25. parasaurolophus
  26. pachycephelasaurus
  27. troodon
  28. gallimumus
  29. oviraptor
Not bad!

A Million Words: My camera counter just reset. 10,000 pictures? Really?

Caramel Apple Cider has the honor of pushing it over the edge.

Bitten:
Maggie: Dalton bite me!
Me: He bit you?
Maggie: No, he BITE me!

Baking Less: Our oven is broken. We figured this out today making an apple tart (even though it's not Thanksgiving). It was burned on the bottom, but raw on the top. I insisted to Kannagi that something was wrong, and she discovered that the top heating element on the oven wasn't working.

It took an awful batch of muffins, two (not) puffy pancakes, and everything Kannagi has made in the last two weeks for us to figure this out. In fact, I then remembered that the top element had sparked and flamed while I was cooking once (and hadn't worked since, apparently). Oh well, we'll be home soon.

: Headed to Dubai tomorrow! We'll be back just in time for Dalton's 2nd birthday. Don't say we never bought you anything, boy!

[Comments] (2) The Truth Comes Out: We walked into church yesterday morning...
Maggie: Mommy! They don't have the TV!
Me: That's next week, sweetie
Maggie: But there's no TV!
Me: It's there. It's in the closet. They'll set it up next week. If you want, we can watch a video of the Prophet on the computer when we get home.
Maggie: So... I have to go to Primary today?

I don't know what Maggie has against Primary other than "I'm scared" and "People are mean" (which they're not). I told her I won't be going to Primary with her when we go home, and she's like, great! But in the meantime, she clings to me, won't sit down, sing, or say her scripture that she has perfectly memorized. Even though they give the kids chocolate bars for practicing the program. I think there might be a correlation between "Ethan and Maddie" leaving and her change in attitude. She brought up Ethan and Maddie after I told her she'd have her friends Ethan and James in her new class in Utah. Maybe she'll be ok once it's white people (who don't pinch).

: Hmm. The hotel only offers free internet in the lobby. So, I don't have to pay for the glass vase Dalton is carrying around if he breaks it, right? Not my fault?

Dubai: There isn't as much to tell about Dubai as you might think. It's hot. The main thing there is shopping, which we weren't impressed with. And we spent a lot of time covered in sunscreen and water.

We spent two days relaxing on the beach alongside the Persian Gulf in the morning and playing in the snow at Ski Dubai/hanging out in the mall in the evenings. The beach was awesome. The sand was soft, the water was unbelievably warm, and it was so easy to float. We rented an umbrella and beach lounges. It was very nice and relaxing.

We took turns in the snow park since Dalton was too small to play. They had innertube slides, bobsled, and sledding. Maggie loved it.

In between beach and snow days, we went to the Aquadventure water park at Atlantis on The Palm. It was fabulous! They had a long "lazy river" type ride, with rapids and wave sections. The innertubes had the kids' holes sealed off so they could sit without falling through. John and I took turns doing down the big slide that went through the fish tank, but mostly we just floated around on the rapids.

Finally, we went to the Burg Khalifa, the world's tallest building (and attached to the world's largest mall). It wasn't as impressive as we'd hoped. Dubai is a new city. There are a lot of buildings in-process and a lot of... nothing. Desert. The view wasn't much to speak of. Also, Maggie was afraid. After we came down, we watched the water fountain show (on the world's largest fountain, of course).

We went to Rainforest Cafe for lunch to celebrate Dalton's birthday. Naturally, he was afraid at first, but when we left, he was waving goodbye to the snake and the giant crocodile.

The best thing about Dubai was that it wasn't India. It was hard to come back. John freaked himself out when he realized we had 4 Sundays left in India and thought that meant four weeks. But we leave on a Monday - three weeks from tomorrow. And we are counting down.

Dalton Boy: I guess I am too good about blogging Dalton updates, because I don't have much to say for his birthday. I tried repeatedly to get him to say "I'm 2!" but each time he shouted "Three! Three!"

He is a brilliant boy and knows hundreds of words as well as the ABCs, colors, a few shapes and numbers, and how to be completely adorable. He still uses signs, too, mostly "please" and animal signs. Unlike Maggie at age 2, he likes to feed himself, he sleeps through the night, he tries to get himself undressed, and he is friendly.

When Dalton is frightened, he prances over and hides behind my legs. He is afraid of animatronic dinosaurs, animals outside the zoo (ie. monkeys on the balcony) and strange noises.

He loves to "watch". TV. Anywhere. He likes Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Blue's Clues and Dora, but he will watch anything. The toy store in Dubai had TVs playing commercials - one playing a Barbie ad in the Barbie room, etc. Dalton wanted to watch them all. I am looking forward to having the TV all the way downstairs once we get home, so he won't always be turning it on.

[Comments] (2) How the World Works:
Maggie: We are going back to Utah, then in 21 days we're coming back to India!
Me: We're not coming back to India.
Maggie: But I like India!
Me: ...

[Comments] (1) The New Red Doggie: It wasn't until I scrapbooked with Dalton over my shoulder that I realized how many pictures we have with his alligator in them. That thing has had his tail chewed on all over the world. Thanks, Auntie Rachel!

[Comments] (1) Evolution Schmevolution: Maggie is tearfully trying to convince me to ask Heavenly Father to fix the dinosaurs. She has such eloquent arguments as "If we just bring back the herbivores, they won't eat us" and "The plants will grow back."

[Comments] (2) Travelling Buddies: Our kids are great travelers. You may already know this. You may have assumed this. You may have assumed the opposite. But it's true. Whether we wake them up for a flight early in the morning, or just hours after they went to bed; whether Dalton misses a nap (or 5 in a row); whether we feed them Indian airplane food or granola bars; they are well-behaved, excited, cheerful and adorable. The last time I remember either of them being really obnoxious was on our way home from Hong Kong, when I made Dalton "cry it out" in the airport so we wouldn't have to do it on the plane. I don't think the kids have slept on an airplane since then, though.

The only trip for which we purchased a seat for Dalton was the one here - and that's because we thought we'd probably return after he turned 2. Did you notice we came home from Dubai the day before his birthday? He sits on one of our laps and plays with the TV remote, or colors. He can share a seat with Maggie to look out the window.

Both of the kids think airplanes are exciting. They never seem to get ear pain. We can only hope that they've gotten all their traveling out and they won't wonder why we're sitting around at home not going on fun trips.

[Comments] (3) I Don't Like Candy Corn: This afternoon John called to say there was a carnival of sorts set up in the courtyard of his office complex. Dalton wasn't napping, so we headed over. The kids had the run of the place. There was a bouncy house, a manual McKay Mouse merry go round (stick your kid on and give it a push) and a train that went in a 10 ft diameter circle. Dalton rode the train 5 times. Maggie jumped.

Afterwards, we went upstairs to celebrate John's departure. He got a nice gift, and a nicer card, and the kids had 8 pieces of cake between them. Eight! I can't do anything to stop Indians from feeding my children excessive sweets. Maggie was actually quite friendly, maybe because we'd just been a week ago and the environment was familiar.

When we got home, our package from Jamie had arrived! 32 days? Sheesh. Any bets on whether we can eat 3 pounds of candy corn in 10 days?

[Comments] (1) Goodbye Stuff: My friend Teresa came over tonight and they left with bags and bags of stuff - toys clothes, sheets, food, kitchen stuff etc. The house already looks better. On Friday I am taking everything else that we don't want to Kannagi's house. I love decluttering.

Happy Diwali!: As far as I can tell, this is the biggest Indian (Hindu) holiday in this part of India. Yesterday our neighbors decorated their doorways with flower garlands, candles, lamps, and displays made from chalk and kum kum powder. It doesn't seem like fire crackers are at all regulated here, so anyone can light fire crackers of any size... anywhere. Including under trees. It was a noisy evening, a noisy night, and a noisy morning, but not as bad as I expected. We just don't understand the fire crackers that crack, but don't even light up.

Yesterday I did some last minute shopping. A lot of the handicrafts shop assistants are young men from Kashmir. That seems kind of random, but we all know there are certain jobs in the US that seem to attract specific nationalities. Anyway, I went to my favorite shop and bought four small, brass idols that I've thought about buying for a long time. They look just like monopoly pieces, expect they're solid brass. The shop assistant and I were trying to identify some of the gods and were able to make most of them out. I think he was quite surprised when he pointed one out as the snake god and I knew the name was Nagalakshmi and we laughed at the absurdity of a Christian and a Muslim sorting through Hindu idols.

[Comments] (2) More on Diwali: We insisted Sandeep take two days off, since he has a five hour drive to his village, and we didn't really need him. We took a few autos out and about on Wednesday. Then we spent Thursday lying in bed being sick.

Wednesday night must be the big night, because that was definitely when we heard the most fire crackers. They were going off from 6 until after we went to bed at 11 - constantly. That is a LOT of fire cracking. I also noticed some of the shops and autos had banana leaves or tree stalks tied on either side. Must be auspicious.

I was supposed to go with Kannagi to take some things to her house today. We gave her lots of kitchen stuff, clothes, baby stuff, food, etc. Unfortunately, I was definitely not feeling up to it and Maggie refused to go without me. So, she ended up just taking Dalton, and the camera. Dalton got to meet his namesake*. He was fast asleep on Kannagi's shoulder when they returned, so I didn't have to worry about him refusing to nap without his crib (now passed on to the younger Dalton).

*I can't remember if I've blogged about this already, so I'll mention it again. Kannagi mentioned the name Dalton to her daughter, and she liked it. So, not only did Kannagi's grandson end up being named Dalton, they gave the baby his dad's middle name - Roy. Really!

[Comments] (4) Homeward Bound:
This is Halloween
Home for the Holidays
I'll Be Home For Christmas
Leavin' On a Jet Plane
So Long, Farewell
Ticket to Ride
To the New York Island
Gone to Look for America
The Land of the Free
Taking the Long Way Around
From Sea to Shining Sea
The Long and Winding Road
Take Me Home

[Comments] (1) Home Sweet Home: For reals! It is soooo good to be home.

6 countries
4 states
23 flights
16 airports
1 30 minute delay
ZERO mishandled bags
It's been a long 17 months.

God Bless America and all that. I might have cried when we landed in New Jersey. America is amazing. They have freeways! And you can drink the tap water. And my refrigerator is HUGE! The kids are happy to be home and surrounded by "new" toys and lots of family members. Dalton went walking around the house after church calling for Ember.

Dalton has learned many new words since we got home, including Cold, Mountains, Coat, Grandma, and Snow. He went to nursery today and just loved it. Maggie went to Primary and appeared to survive. Her teacher said once she was in the class, she just started talking away, and that she said she went to Primary in India and didn't like it. No kidding.

Maggie's First Day of Preschool: So big! She said she was scared. Dalton and I went in with her, but it was so busy that she didn't even have time to be scared. She did what she was supposed to - write her name, wash her hands, glue a house on a paper - and then played with the dinosaurs the teacher had gotten out. By circle time, she was ignoring us, so we left.

This was pretty amazing. When we went to meet her teacher, Maggie wouldn't even go in the room, or let the teacher look at her.

Dalton and I ran some errands and I am amazed at how convenient things are in America. We'll see if I feel the same way after our trip to the DMV.

[Comments] (2) Pokies: I took both the kids for well visits yesterday. Between them, they got 9 shots, PLUS the flu mist. Poor kids. We had to hold Maggie down and she screamed and said she was NEVER coming back. By bedtime, Dalton could barely walk, but they both seem ok today.

Afterwards we went to IKEA for free kid's meals on Tuesday. My kids are car-seat-challenged. When I undo the buckles they just sit there. Luckily neither of them has thrown a fit over having to be buckled in. Maggie is still loving preschool.

We're supposed to get internet on Monday. I think the kids will miss visiting their grandparents all the time, but I'm sure we'll think of another excuse.

[Comments] (1) Praying for Revelation: The other night, Maggie asked prayed to know what color dinosaurs are.

[Comments] (1) The Smooth: I am eating The Most Delicious peanut butter sandwich. Sara Lee soft ww bread, jif peanut butter, black raspberry jam. I opened the jam oh-so-cleverly using a rubber drawer liner. The peanut butter was also a new jar. Rachel and I used to argue over (or nicely share) the "smooth" - that lovely top layer of a new jar. Today I got both. Hiya.

[Comments] (3) No Plans: We weren't really planning on doing much today, but we ended up with quite a busy day! First, we went to IHOP for breakfast. Maggie got it right on the third try... iPod... iPop... IHOP! Yum. The kids got balloon animals. Maggie got a dinosaur that look an awful lots like the scary grasshopper in A Bug's Life. Dalton got a snowman!

We put up some Christmas decorations, which thrilled the kids. Then we went to Old Navy. They were having a 5-hour frenzy of 75% off coats. Since our coats got lost in the mail, we took advantage. We got $250 worth of clothes for $88. Yay! We love our new coats.

After that, we went to Jodi & Franco's, to see what they've done to Grandma June's house. It looks great! We also got back some of our toys and books, which the kids were excited about.

Then we went to the Lehi Cemetery to see Grandma June's grave. Maggie brought a little Christmas tree to put on her grave. As soon as we got out of the car she asked, "Where's Grandma June? Is she getting fixed?" and when we got in the car she said, "Wait! I want to see Grandma June's bones!" ... Well. Perhaps now we have a better understanding of what we do with bodies.

While I'm blogging, I'll mention that yesterday I went to the new Utah Museum of Natural History with my cousin Sarah. Sharon got us the free tickets. We didn't get to see everything, as is often the case with little kids, but what we did see was pretty neat. My favorite part was a wall of ceratopsian skulls - over a dozen triceratops relatives. They also let us go in the storage rooms and labs where they keep dead animals in formaldehyde jars etc.

Time Out!: Maggie gave me a time out because I took away the toy she and Dalton were fighting over. Sweet! I grabbed my stuff and hurried into her room and closed the door. It wasn't 3 minutes before the kids were politely knocking on the door asking if they could "help."

Later, Maggie smacked her face on the stair railing. I snuggled her in the rocking chair until she felt better. Dalton came over to investigate. Maggie was kneeling on my lap with her face snuggled into my neck. He looked at her snuggling me for a minute and then announced, "Bum!" For some reason this was hilarious (even to me) and now the kids are running in circles around the house singing, "Ready to go to... Bum!" They are actually ready to go to Ember's house, and have been for hours, but Ember isn't home from school yet.

I Am Woman: I just replaced the ball rod assembly on our bathroom sink. Because I'm awesome like that. It took much longer than it probably should have, and it's a bit jiggly... but the sink drains now!

Wild and Crazy Animals: Last night, we went to visit Erin, Ember, Jetta, and Jazzy. Dalton sure loves doggies. Maggie was scared of Jetta, who is bigger than she, after all. On the way home, we took the long route, then drove up each street in our neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights.

Maggie was the special helper in preschool today. She picked "windy" for the weather, got to be the line leader and choose beads first (I don't know what that means), and got a fancy sticker.

Today was the first free zoo day of winter. We carpooled with Tasha in her fancy van. It was supposedly supposed to snow (I don't pay attention to things like weather predictions) but the weather was actually very nice. It sprinkled on us for a few minutes, but that's it. It was too cold for the elephants, but we watched as they let the giraffes out. One of them was literally cavorting around, he was so excited to be outdoors. We got to see one of the tigers up close, too.

Dalton has spent the past 5 minutes jumping off a chair into Maggie's arms. He spent the previous 10 minutes jumping off the chair and landing head-first on the floor, so I guess this is an improvement.

Maggie made me a present and told me I couldn't open it until Christmas, by which she means tomorrow. She thinks tomorrow is Christmas because she gets to open one of her presents (a Lego advent calendar from Uncle Leonard).

John is out of town. I have another home improvement project planned for tonight, and Erin lent me The Help.

Happenings: Continuing this week, with John in California and us trying to keep busy: Thursday, my aunt Sharon and cousins Jill and Camilla came over. We had a yummy lunch and a fun time talking. Dalton attached himself to Sharon. She makes a very good great-auntie.

Today, we bought a new toilet, and an overpriced toy as a birthday gift (the toilet was not a birthday gift). I wish I'd been able to plan ahead and buy something online; not only was everything overpriced at Toys R Us, the selection wasn't very good.

Dalton first learned the word Christmas as part of the phrase "Christmas tree." He still hasn't separated the two. I took the kids to see Santa earlier this week (there's no line in November). Dalton enjoyed it. He sat on Santa's lap and agreed with everything the man said (smart kid). Maggie hid behind my back. The mall also has a dino-themed play place, so that was fun.

Last night, I took the kids to get their free meals at Del Taco (and some energy out on the play place). Dalton was too small for the play place, so Maggie had to haul him up every single step. Double wearing-out bonus!

John is finally coming home tomorrow. Yay! Maggie is going to a birthday party, and we have our ward party in the evening. I already made Thai Pasta Salad to take.

[Comments] (4) Three's a Crowd: I'm pregnant, if you didn't know.

Mmmm, chocolate pudding.
One bite for me, one bite for baby.
One bite for me, one bite for baby.
"Mommy! Can I share some?"
One bite for Maggie, one bite for me, one bite for baby.
One bite for Maggie, one bite for Dalton, one bite for...
That didn't last long.

[Comments] (1) Behind Christmas Joy:

John: Why are they singing, Maggie?
Maggie: Because there's no food and no presents and no decorations. And no table. And no Christmas tree. And no candy canes. And no bells.
John: And they're still happy?
Maggie: Yeah.
John: Why?
Maggie: Because... Mr. Grinch is coming back.

It's Not Paella!:
John: Here's a hint: if I call it "paella," that means I don't like it.
Susie: You call everything with rice "paella."

[Comments] (3) The Order of Things:
M: After Christmas comes Easter Beagle.

And, the kids were running around in circles chanting, "deep fat fry! deep fat fry!" after watching Garfield Thanksgiving. I love it!

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Maggie uses the words "ask" and "tell" incorrectly. Except, today she actually {accidentally} said something nice! "I will ask Kyli to give it back." I'm sure she really meant "tell." Sometimes she demands that I ask her something... and gets upset when I do.

I just finished making Santa videos for both of the kids. They are going to love it! Maggie is at such a magical age for Christmas. We did an elf hunt at Gardner Village earlier this week. One of the elves had binoculars, so I explained he was checking to see if the kids were being good girls and boys. I once mentioned an elf might be watching to see if she ate her dinner and not only have I had no problems since, she always begs to look out the window and see if we can find him! He's on the rooftops! He's making footprints in the yard! He's on his way to Colette's house!

Our kids really don't need any toys, but of course we bought more than we intended. They are going to love it on Christmas morning, though! Besides, I think that last Lego set was really more for John and I...

Leonard is coming in on Tuesday night. So glad I get to have my brother with us for Christmas! Besides, I told him, Christmas is more fun with kids around. Especially when his favorite niece loves dinosaurs and Legos just like him.

Dalton & Rudolph: Dalton loves to read along with stories and sing along to songs. Unfortunately, he usually doesn't know all (or any) of the words. So he just shouts out the last word, when you give a pause. This makes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the perfect song for him to sing along to!

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer "Reindeer!"
Had a very shiny nose "nose!"
And if you ever saw it "saw it!"
You would even say it glows "glows!"

Cuteness ad infinitum. Maybe I'll catch a video.

Thing I Never Thought I'd Google:

Are armadillos good climbers?
Do whales have belly buttons?
construction worker socks

Only one of those was asked by Maggie.

[Comments] (2) Santa for Mom: When I was 14 or 15, I woke up early on Christmas morning and realized we hadn't bought anything for my mom's stocking! Even though she was married at the time, it was clear that us kids were responsible to be Santa, at least for the stocking. I bravely woke up Leonard - 16 or 17 then - and we agreed to drive to 7-11. At 6:00 on Christmas morning, we drove 10 minutes into "town" to buy Coke, Hershey bars and who knows what else to fill mom's stocking. Not every teenage boy would do that. Even though everything was obviously purchased at a convenience store, I wonder if she had any idea we had gone that morning to do it.

The year I was 17, we drove to Texas for my cousin's wedding and spent Christmas there. We filled mom's stocking with items (including collectible patches) sneakily purchased from convenience stores all along Route 66.

Who's that baby?: Looking at pictures.

Me: Hey, who's that?
Dalton: Um. Baby... Baby... Jesus!
Me: Baby Jesus? That's you! And that was three days ago.

25 Christmas Highlights:

1. Spoiling the kids
2. Christmas sugar cookies
3. Telling Maggie that elves were watching her
4. Dinosaur museums
5. John not working
6. Leonard's visit
7. Harry Potter party with cousins
8. Dalton's amazement at the never-ending presents
9. Dinner and Christmas movies with Jodi and Franco
10. New phone
11. New camera
12. New Legos
13. Carcassonne and other games
14. Sledding at the cabin, bundled up warm in borrowed and hand-me-down snow clothes with my awesome family (+ doggies)
15. "Can we drive around our neighborhood?" every night
16. Delicious food at Aunt Birgitta's annual Christmas Eve party
17. Leonard cooking. And doing the dishes. When did he become so tidy?
18. Maggie yelling "I got a rock!" when unhappy with a Hannah Montana binder during the White Elephant game
19. Maggie singing with the Primary during Church. Actually opening her mouth and singing
20. Dalton running up to the stand to have his turn
21. The kids loving their Uncle Leonard
22. New socks
23. Potato casserole
24. Reading A Christmas Carol
25. Teaching the kids about "baby Jesus"

Riddle Her Silly: Rachel sent Dalton a book called The Dog Detectives: Lost in London for Christmas. The dogs have to find the 6 black ravens, and there are some riddles to solve along the way. I read the book to Maggie just now.

Susie: "I wear bark, grow leaves, and shade parks." What grows leaves?
Maggie: Water!
Susie: Um... yes...

Potty! Potty!: I was fully intending not to even think about potty-training Dalton until he turns three. Why frustrate myself by starting too early, right?

A few weeks ago, he saw me cleaning the toilets for the first time (we had a maid in India, remember?) He was very intrigued and shortly after started asking to sit on the potty a few times. Kyli is using our potty seat right now, so I had to hold him there until he got tired of it, which took a surprisingly long time. Today while I was changing a wet diaper, he hopped up and ran to the bathroom and wanted to be put on. And what do you know, he actually peed.

Dalton is about a month shy of the age when I trained Maggie. I don't know if I want to do this yet, though!

Maggie at the Park: Maggie always says the most hilarious things when making new friends at the park. Today I got out my phone and took notes.

My middle name are Margaret Susan.
My last name are Sissy.
My grandpa can't walk. (I think the boy she was talking to was there with his grandpa.)
Charlie Brown died. It was a baby in my mommy's tummy and it died. It's ok, we're going to get a new one named Charlie Brown. (To this, the boy questioned giving the baby the same name.)
My friend Grandma June died. She was 99! (Maggie talks about Grandma June dying a lot.)
When asked how old Dalton was: He's 2. He had a birthday in India and he turned 2.

Also, a cat wandered over to the playground and Maggie said that his name was "Thuck." Maggie is not allowed to name any future pets we may get.

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