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[Comments] (1) first impressions: Getting settled. We arrived on time in SLC with all our luggage, a huge success, and made it safely back to our home around 10 pm on the first. The second we battled jet lag, unpacked the house, made a huge mess, went to Cafe Rio, Target, Old Navy, and Wal-Mart and spent money, and had visits and Zupa's dinner with mom and Brook and family.

Tuesday I went to work and got everything on my list fixed except my Blackberry, which still isn't working. Otherwise everything works! Today I also started drinking Naked Juice again and am in heaven.

Friday we hit Kohl's and Franco helped me move the heavy duty stuff. The house is in decent shape now; about 85% there.

Saturday I drove to work in a snowstorm to use the internet we are still lacking at home, in a snow storm. We also bought Dalton a big boy bed, coming Tuesday. We also had a nice family gathering. Today I'm in Chicago for the week teaching.

It already feels like we never left. It already feels like India is a million miles and a million years away. The body health for me is slowly returning, but the poor kids are battling the dry, cold weather with coughs and chapped lips.

Tomorrow Maggie starts Pre-school. We still need to get the car registered again and buy me a new car next week when I get home. I'm already getting solicited for new clients from the Irvine office to work on this busy season. I forsee a lot of travel in my future.

It's just good to be home. Even if home is cold.

electric slide: I bought a new car yesterday. Well, new to me. It's a Mazda 3 hatchback, electric blue, with a GPS, keyless entry and keyless engine start, heated leather seats, sunroof, and more buttons and gadgets than I am normally used to. I would never order such gadgets in a car but it worked out here in the perfect used car. It's a 2011 and has only 13K miles on it.

We bought it at CU Auto Center and it was such a refreshing change from Karl Malone Toyota. No pressure, no sales pitch, no bargaining the price, just test drove two cars, asked some questions, and went home with a new car.

We had them peel the window tint off the car as it seriously made the car look too gangster and was hard for me to look out the rear view mirror without a halo effect on the other car's lights. We like it much better without the tint.

It's hard to believe we survived on one car for 18 months! But it was nice to do so, even though it is now just not feasible.

I survived the week in Chicago. I still have to go to Orlando in December and back to Chicago in January. There's a lot of travel in my future that I'm not looking forward to. I missed the kids a lot and they missed me. Especially Dalton. He won't let me out of his sight now. I even slept in his bed with him last night. He's my cuddlebug.

[Comments] (1) survey says: Common questions people ask me about India:

Did you like the food? Easily answered with a resounding NO.

Did you learn the language? Easily answered with a "which one?"

Are you happy to be home? Easily answered in the affirmative.

The questions rarely go deeper than this.

I spent Friday in Irvine eating pizza, playing UNO and pictionary, and meeting up with a really old friend, Kris Rickard, who grew up in my hood. We sat next to each other on the plane (serendipity), and are both CPA's. It's a small accounting world. The drive home from the airport was treacherous in the snow and had me missing Irvine already.

Today we hit IHOP for yummy eggnog pancakes, delish gingerbread hot chocolate, and the balloon lady, who made Dalton a snowman and Maggie a T-Rex (what else indeed). Then we hit Old Navy for the sale of a century. At noon sharp all adult winter clothes were 75% off. And since our winter clothes are all missing, we were in dire need. I bought a fleece jacket for $12, a down coat for $17, Susie a coat for $14, Maggie a coat for $17, new gray work pants for $25, and we got an additional $10 off the entire purchase. We got there at 11 and grabbed all the good stuff and got in line for the bewitching hour. It was a good plan. We are now prepared for Jack Frost and his worst.

Then we went and saw Jodi and Franco's new pad and took Grandma June a Christmas tree. It was wierd to see the same old tombstone, now 24 years old, with a brand new death date sketched in under Grandma's name. Maggie wanted to see her bones, I guess like a dinosaur fossil.

Now we're home decorating for the holidays, making up for missed time from last year. Also making a list of food for Thanksgiving and baking Andes mint chocolate chip cookies. It's going to be a great holiday season!

the in crowd: Our ward here is nice, overall. I have some good friends, most of which are still around, and it was nice to catch up with these people today. Next Sunday we get to speak about our India rotation.

But. This ward can also be funny at times. For example, one Mother's Day, the Bishop went around the congregation singling out mothers he knew that were good mothers. Which inevitably left the rest of the mothers, Susie included, feeling like NOT good mothers. I was really unhappy that day. Like Mother's Day doesn't carry enough emotional baggage as it is for most women who don't live up the ideals people lie about that day.

Then today it was the Sunday School teacher, going around the room saying things like "I like Sister so-and-so; she's so great." Well. What about all the brothers and sisters so-and-so who didn't receive a verbal accolade? By default, I suppose we are NOT great, not liked by the teacher, and really didn't need to come at all today.

I know, well HOPE, their intentions are good. But it sure does come off rude.

My kids often give me access to clubs I'm otherwise shut out of. Someone, in UT no less, today at church told me Dalton is the cutest little boy she's ever met!

[Comments] (1) turkey bowl: Monday I worked a full day and today I worked half of the day. We strung Christmas lights on the house, then we went Thanksgiving shopping, grabbed some donuts and Subway, and are now at the cabin for the night. Maggie's been begging to go since we got back to the states three weeks ago and we finally made it.

We've been here 2.5 hours and the cabin is still only 60 degrees now. We've got a long ways to go! Maggie and I also went on an adventure walkabout to the stick house. She remembers going to Timp Cave two summers ago, before Dalton was even born. She's got a great memory.

Tonight we'll cuddle up next to the fire over hot chocolate and Cheetos and watch teevee, read the Kindle, and master some Sudoku. It looks to be a very peaceful evening. Baby it's cold outside.

[Comments] (1) sky high: We spent last night at the cabin. It only took about 4 hours to get the temp up from 40 to 68 degrees. Dalton had a hard night up there until we finally pulled a Yankee swap, with Susie in Dalton's bed and Maggie in mine. Then it was fine. Go figure.

We took Subway for dinner, ate donuts for breakfast (the kids wouldn't stop begging for them but we somehow held out until breakfast) and then stopped at Wendy's on the way home for lunch. The goal of the trip was to relax.

Maggie took my hiking in the 6 inches of snow up to the stick house. We also went and saw my Uncle Scott's new cabin up there. It's huge and nice but I'm glad I don't have to worry about my kids on those stairs.

This afternoon I took the kids on a walk on the Porter Rockwell trail and to the playground. They used to whine on a walk that long but this time around they loved it. I guess a year of uneven sidewalks without the double stroller has made them appreciate these little things. We had fun, but it was a workout for me.

Let Turkey Day begin!

[Comments] (1) day of food: Susie does the shopping in our household. Period. But sometimes I get to interject food into our kids lives that Susie won't eat. This week brought about egg nog! Maggie and Susie both have an aversion to milk that, frankly, I don't understand. They both like cold water with their cookies, for example. Yuck.

But Maggie LOVES egg nog! She first thought it was milk but I made her take a drink. Next thing I knew, the entire carton was empty and Maggie was asking for more. The more of us that like it, the more likely we are to get Susie to buy it.

weekend and Maggie's: TU & WED we spent at the cabin in the cold. It took four hours to get the temp up where we needed it. There was more snow than we expected but we still went out and had fun sans snow gear. I love going up there in the winter and playing some Christmas songs on the player piano while sipping egg nog.

TH was turkey day. Mostly ate, but also hit the park with the kids, and watched "BC Thanksgiving" with my brother and sister on YouTube, a favorite of ours as kids. They just don't make them like that anymore. I wonder why comic strips no longer make holiday teevee specials.

FR morning Susie went to the temple and I worked until the kids woke up. Then we went to see the Muppet Movie with our free movie tickets we procured from the dentist thanks to his refer a patient program. By keeping a low profile that day, we avoided mace, pepper spray, taserings, and other such festive Black Friday events

SAT we hit the mall, but to do the Angel Tree program. We picked a two year old boy and a seven year old girl and had fun buying Barbies, cars, and clothing. We also managed to buy Dalton's present that day. Then we went to lunch at Su Casa with my mom for the best Mexican food in town.

Today was church, wherein Susie and I were asked to speak about our experiences in India. Then onto tithing settlement (we passed) and home teaching. My 16-month stint of no home teaching came to an end. But unfortunately our 16-month stint of not being home taught will live to see another day.

Tomorrow I leave UT behind to work on-site at a client's in Anaheim for a week. Travelling is never as much fun alone. And when it's for work.


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