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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.

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