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happy thought: "If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.

"A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."

--Roald Dahl

[Comments] (1) child's play: Maggie has named her horse "eat hay." I'm not sure if the hay portion is a surname or not. This is exactly why children should not be allowed to name pets. You end up, like my brother, with a dog named "Cheat" and a cat named "Mr Big."

Sometimes when we are trying to steer Maggie in a certain direction, we give her choices. For example, if I don't want to watch the ever-monotonous Baby Einstein, I'll hold up Toy Story 2 and Winnie the Pooh and tell her to choose one. I think this is how I would let my child "pick" a pet name. That is, make a list of acceptable selections and let her pick from the list. Incidentally, Maggie now brings me a selection of movies to watch and let's me pick. The girl catches on quickly.

Maggie also calls "Green Eggs and Ham" "peas and ham."

I spent the weekend being sick and trying to recover before the trip this weekend. It was boring but restful. And Dalton and I enjoyed a 3-mile jaunt while Susie & Maggie were communing with God. It was a bright sunny day and actually felt good to be outside. Dalton must have agreed as he didn't mutter a peep the whole walk.

like sissy like brother: Dalton likes to sleep just like Maggie did as an infant; that is, with his arms above his head. I wonder what kind of dreams they have....

[Comments] (1) for the children: I'm exhausted.

Friday we flew to the OC. We made it to the gate just in time to board, but luckily our flight departed 15 minutes late so we got a slight reprieve before take off. Airport security was a cakewalk, since apparently families get to go in a separate, and shorter, line. The only hassle was that the stroller wouldn't fit in the scanner and I had to get in another line and try again in a bigger scanner.

The check-in process was horrendous. We checked 3 bags and 2 carseats so of course it took a while. I apologized to the couple in line behind us but they just mumbled under their breath something or other.

Maggie and Susie boarded on time, but I opted to be the last on the plane so that Dalton wouldn't get antsy waiting for takeoff. He did quite well on the plane and fell asleep during take off and didn't wake up until landing.

Our rental car is a Nissan Murano. It is one of those push button starters, which I find silly. I mean, like it was soooo hard to turn the ignition key? I also learned that the car won't start unless your foot is on the brake pedal when you push the button. Susie and I assume this is to keep kids driving cars. It's a nice car otherwise, especially since my company said they would only get me a sedan.

Disneyland has been fun. Maggie seems to enjoy it, though it seems too busy for Dalton and easily overloads his senses. No matter the ride we pick, Maggie refuses to go on it at the last minute. Thus I've become one of those parents. Yes, I have forced her onto Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Finding Nemo, and Autopia, but she has enjoyed them all in the end. I think her favorite is Winnie-the-Pooh, with Dumbo and the Teacups rounding out the top 3, though she really enjoyed the Bug's Land attractions today. Maggie also changes her mind in line for the Teacups about 5 times, on average, on what color cup to ride in.

Maggie has also met Mickey, Eeyore, Pooh, and Tigger. She's been very shy with the characters, but they love her anyway. Pluto in particular gave Maggie and Dalton a good sniff-over. Maggie got a lot of attention in the parade, as we were front and center thanks to the awesome seats I procured.

It's a Small World is still decked out for Christmas, which I found odd. But Maggies likes Jingle Bells so I guess it works out. Maggie is too small for all the adult rides except for The Matterhorn. We told Maggie the Yeti therein was the one from Monsters Inc so that it wouldn't scare her. She says she wants to ride it again.

Disneyland is a lot of work when you have two kids. If Dalton is asleep, Maggie gets to ride everything twice so both Susie and I can get a turn. And if it's an adult ride, it's a duanting tale to watch two children in a sea of chaos. But Maggie has been super accomodating. For example, while Susie rode Indiana Jones, Maggie walked all the stairs in Tarzan's treehouse on her own so that I could hold Dalton. That thing has to have over 100 stairs. Maggie also doesn't complain when she asks for a certain ride and we tell her no (and the only reason we would tell such a cute thing no is if the ride is on the opposide side of the park). Maggie also has not once asked for a single toy. She found a magnet on the floor while I bought her a shirt so I bought it for her. Never seen someone get so excited for a magnet! She can't be too spoiled yet with such low expectations, right? We come home exhausted every night.

The weather has been in the 70s and is heaven. I can't believe I ever moved. But today a huge rainstorm moved in that is supposedly here to stay through the week. Even with the rain, it's still nicer than UT. I have hit the hot tub each night after the kids go to sleep.

Tomorrow is off to work while Susie is off to SLO to visit Pat and family. Then we'll hit Disney again this weekend and head home from there. Still on our list to do: Big Thunder Mountain, ToonTown, the Ferris Wheel, Toy Story again (it's a pretty cool ride!), California Screamin for Susie, the Redwood Forest. We did everything else in two days. That should tell any Disney connosiour just how exhausted we are.

The hotel is not as great as we had hoped. I swear online it said complimentary breakfast, yet here we are with a $12.95 buffet. And today our room didn't get cleaned. Dalton screamed in the lobby the whole time while they cleaned our room so I guess that's a mild payback.

Maggie is snuggled in our bed so I gotta go move her.

All in all, I highly recommed the post-holiday winter escape. Wish I could make it a yearly tradition.

[Comments] (2) California by rain: We survived the flood without an ark! Oddities on our trip include:

While waiting for the Pixar parade with Dalton asleep in his stroller, an Australian family attempts to share the bench with me. While their sons were supposedly bothering the father, he turned to his son and said "Stop hitting that man next to you. He's getting mad and he has a gun in his pocket." Sure, make me the bad guy. I didn't even care what his son was doing.

Maggie being a daredevil. She loved the ferris wheel, including the swinging gondolas. I should note that I have teenage nephews that won't ride on them! She also wanted to go on the roller coaster, but is too little. Instead, she went over and over again on the Gadget go-coaster and loved it! It's nice using parent pass with Dalton because Maggie gets to go on everything twice that way.

Going to Disneyland only to find it closed! I guess some people can't handle getting wet.

Flying in virtual peace. Both kids were the epitome of manners on our flights. People complimented them left and right. Our flight home was also full of MLM'ers coming home from a convention in Anaheim. Glad none of them were sitting next to me; the last thing I needed was a sale pitch for sludge juice.

I think the final tally on rides was thus: Winnie the Pooh, 14 times; Dumbo, carousel, and Teacups, around 10 times; kiddie roller coaster, 4 times; but the oddest of all was only riding twice on Doors, otherwise known to the rest of the world as Monsters, Inc. Maggie is obsessed with that show but apparently not the ride.

It was a nice winter getaway just in time before life becomes nothing but work again for the next few months. Anyone else ready for spring?

[Comments] (1) the power of the middle: I just bought a new vacuum. Our wedding vacuum was dead. We bought the middle model. I do this a lot. The cheapest model seems to me to lack quality and/or important features may be missing, and the most expensive model seems too offer nonessential features and/or seems overpriced for my needs.

I do this a lot. This is how our blender purchase went down (when our wedding blender died over Christmas). This is basically how I shop. I wonder if other people feel the same way. And if not, why not? Anyone out there who always buys the top of the line? Or the bottom of the line?

[Comments] (3) throw the bums out: What with record budget shortfalls and all, I'm glad to see that the UT legislature can utilize their resources (ie my money) on such a monumental waste of time. I mean, who knew that climate change could be completely nullified by popular vote? It reminds me of a conversation Sumana and I had regarding people that spout things like "You can't be Mormon and support homosexual marriage" for example. It's as if they are saying, in other words, that I don't exist, since I am Mormon, and I do support equal marriage rights. The very idea.Link

Take that, climate change! In other news, Susie & I have taken a few breaks to watch the Olympics. I think the Olympics are a lot less exciting when the validity of the free world isn't on the line. I mean, wasn't it way more exciting when the notion of communism's existence hinged in the balance based solely on medal count? I suppose I wax nostalgic. Ah, yesteryear.

[Comments] (6) the great leak: Word is finally circulating around the hood about the supposed-impending India extravaganza. Of course, my work still has told me nothing. People I've never talked to have come up to me to ask about India.

We got a new bishopric recently, which inevitably brings change on all fronts. New Relief Society, new callings, and, most importantly, rumors of a new Elder's Quorum Presidency. I told Susie I feel confident that, once released from the shackles of the guilt squad I will be left unfettered, due to the fact that our old Bishopric believed us to be teachers of false doctrine (their words, not ours. In retrospect, I should have asked them to define false doctrine, but I was blindsided, so who knows what I said). Susie doesn't think these kind of notes pass between bishoprics, but I'm not so sure.

This week I should enjoy a brief respite before I pick up for the last 5 weeks of busy season. I hope to enjoy it by spending time with Maggie, who tends to get quite cranky during busy season. She wakes up every morning at 7 when the garage door opens to bid me adieu out the window. I miss my kids when I work so much.

Maggie was sick last week and now it's Dalton's turn. It's hard to watch the kids be sick, but in some ways, it's also nice. They don't have the same energy for screaming as when they are well. They're so cute and pathetic that I actually find them extra-endearing. Is that horrible? It is what it is.

[Comments] (2) true love: Dalton is sick, so I got up 30 minutes early to snuggle him since he was whining, and also since I didn't see him last night before he went to bed. He smiled at me and fell asleep in a very akward position, basically staring up at me. I rocked him for 30 minutes then put him back to bed so I could get ready for work.

Then Maggie heard me so I got her up, got her some yogurt, and told her I had to go to work today, but that tomorrow was a daddy home day (ie daddy work from home day). That appeased her.

I get up and go to work early so I don't have to suffer saying to good-bye to the little ones, but they catch on quick. If they want to see me, they set their internal clocks for daddy work time I guess.

to sleep perchance to dream: Last night Dalton woke up about 2 am. Being sick and all, I opted to drag myself out of bed and snuggle him back to sleep, which seemed to quell him until about 8 am. We rocked in the rocking chair for about 30 minutes.

During this 30-minute interlude, there was silence, followed by a loud "No!" coming from Maggie's room, followed by more silence. I wonder who/what she was saying no to. It was probably me or Susie. I would love to experience a Maggie-sized dream.

to her with love: Happy Birthday pretty! I have a 3 year-old now.

I had hoped to work from home today, but it wasn't meant to be. There's always next year, or the year after that, or the year after that. I do at least hope to cut out early.

Maggie already opened her present from us anyway. We gave her a portable DVD player, in anticipation of the car ride to Bryce Canyon and the plane ride to India. The added bonus is she can now be near Susie when it's time to make dinner, instead of downstairs by herself. She really likes it!

[Comments] (2) up with the moon: I get up early. I guess 6:30 isn't super early, but it's early to me. Especially when it's dark again right after daylight savings. Maggie's room is next to the garage, and she has set her internal alarm clock to the opening of the door at 7 am as I trot off to work. She screams for Susie to get her to wave good-bye to me.

Today I could hear her screaming from the garage. So I went back in to say good-bye. She kept telling Susie to go to work and me to stay home. Oh, if only.

I guess I need to forgo the luxury of a garage for the home stretch of busy season and just park in the driveway to help Maggie get her beauty sleep.

qotd: "Whatever doesn't make you stronger will make you bitter." I'm not sure if this is an original John Chadwick or not, but I did think of it in my own little brain after working Sat morning 6 am - 12 noon in the office and then 6 pm - 1 am Sat night in the basement, with an hour-long break to snuggle a screaming baby.

April isn't the cruelest month; March is.

[Comments] (1) second winter: It's been a cold, snowy week here. Just as things are easing up at work, in fact, it turns all nasty outside. Figures. In spite of it all, I fully intend to enjoy a nice Easter weekend with my family.

Last night an old mission companion hopped into town so we reminisced about ye goode olde days in the Kong. It makes me very excited to be able to go there. I found tickets for the whole family from India for $1,500, which is cheaper than one ticket from the US. And we can stay at temple housing for $10/night, so the trip should be affordable and a blast. Spending the next little bit in India is starting to feel real to me, now that busy season is waning, and I'm getting excited! The list in my head of must-sees in the Kong is beginning to formulate.

[Comments] (2) improveggsation: Last year the Draper egg hunt advertised a 9 am start time. We sat in the cold until 9:30 before the festivities began. Because it was only 35 degrees yesterday, we decided to wait until 9:30 to show up. We missed it! What right do they have starting on time this year? Boo.

Maggie was sorely disappointed, so we made our own egg hunt. We went to IKEA, I hid a dozen eggs, and Maggie found them. People probably wondered what we were doing with our camera out, but none of the eggs got pilfered before Maggie found them, and it was a lot of fun! The place was packed so I was pretty surprised that no one said anything to us.

This morning we woke up to snow so once again, the egg hunt was indoors. Maggie got a puzzle of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet splashing in the water. "Look," she says to me, "Pooh and Piglet are getting baptized!"

[Comments] (1) thus it ends: And the best part is, I'm skipping the next busy season! Mr Chadwick, you just survived 5 years in public accounting, working enough overtime to make it the equivalent of 6 years in any other job.....what are you going to do next?

I'm moving to India!

as the old saying goes: "If you don't like the weather in UT, move to California wait 5 minutes!"

We just got back from our 4-day jaunt to Southern UT and had a blast. Below is the play by play, interspersed with doses of Maggie cuteness:

1. Wednesday it poured buckets of rain on us the entire drive there. Not fun. Parts of the 15 now allow you to do 80 mph (they call them experimentation zones, though what they are experimenting with seems to be human fatality statistics) but I opted to go 70 mph the whole way, what with the rain and all. I was pretty uncomfortable with the number of cars whizzing past me.

2. We checked into our hotel at Ruby's that advertised a lakeview and actually gave it to us. The room was fab, especially because the fridge was huge and fit all our food. This saved me from having to hassle with excess food in the cooler and multi-day ice bucket runs.

3. Having dealt with adverse weather before (ie the entire 10 days in Yellowstone, multiple rainy trips to the cabin), we decided to hike to Mossy Cave in the hail Wed night. Unlike the trips above, we were prepared with umbrellas, about 10 different coats, 10 pairs of gloves, hats, scarves, etc so the hike was fine. And the nice thing about the Southern UT soil is that the dirt doesn't turn into quite the mud we experience hiking in the rain at the cabin. We had extra towels for the car to keep it clean.

4. Back to Mossy Cave. It was still frozen! I have a picture of my last trip there, circa 1989, and Jodi and I were climbing in it. No more. It now is fenced off.

5. TH morning we got up and headed off to Sunrise point. It was 27 degrees per the RAV 4, but only seriously only felt like it was maybe in the 40s. I couldn't even see my breath. I'm not sure how temperatures work there, but it never felt as cold as it said it was. We hiked down into Bryce Canyon among the hoodoos and the tunnels in the cliffs and Maggie loved it. We kept pace with an older couple from Upstate NY. They couldn't believe we kept up with them with kids in tow. I couldn't believe they kept up with us. We are used to 8000 foot elevation hiking; they are not. They were good company. The switchback out of the canyon was tough, as it was rather muddy and each step had to be pulled out of the clay. But we did it!

6. FR was a nightmare. It was supposed to be warmer than TH but was way worse. We took the 18-mile path to Rainbow point, elevation 9115 feet, to do a simple 1-mile loop hike at Bristlecone to see the fetrified forest. We finally found the trail, after endless searching, when we realized it was buried beneath our feet about 3 feet below the snowpack. Why the damned park website couldn't simply tell me any hike at the south end would be impassible until June is beyond me, but that's the government for you. We spent a good 15 minutes getting all bundled up and situated in the hiking carriers only to go back to the car and unbundle. Poor Dalton was sleeping too. The rest of the drive was bitterly cold, so we saw what we could through the car windows. Maggie entertained us by playing with her My Little Ponies in the backseat. They were talking about snow, hiking in Bryce Canyon, that one has a unicorn horn and one doesn't, etc.

7. We arrived back at our room around 12:30 to find it still unmade, so we went swimming. It was awesome! We had the pool to ourselves. Maggie is still very apprehensive about swimming but finally let us teach her a few things. Every time we asked her to do something, she'd say "I would not could not" to quote a verse from Sam-I-am. Dalton seemed to enjoy swimming in the spa where the water was warmer. Maggie kept throwing his toys in the water and we had to fish them out before they sank to the bottom.

8. Getting back to our room at 2:30, it still wasn't made! The maid was one door away so we had to leave again but it was so depressingly cold and windy outside. So we drove and drove and drove. First on the 12 through Tropic, then through another small nameless town, for a sign to Escalante and Kodachrome. We ended up in the middle of nowhere at Kodachrome state park. It was warmer and we had sunshine down there (at only 5800 feet) so we paid the $6 and went it. We had a great time. They have some paved walks so Maggie could finally run around. I'm glad we decided to try this park. We also saw the Escalante trail, and I really wanted to do it, but it's a dirt road down to the grand canyon and it was getting dark. We'll have to research it and try it another time.

9. SAT was finally warmer! But we were still mad at Bryce Canyon so we checked out and played in Red Canyon. We did two hikes with a couple from France who had a 5-year old boy. It was finally warm enough to eat outdoors so we had a picnic on our hike and it was fabulous. 50 degrees is perfect hiking weather when you are toting kids around. We finally had blue skies as well.

10. We opted to go home on the 89, which was awesome because it was deserted. We went through Circleville, where Butch Cassidy's sister lives, and stopped at Big Rock Candy Mountain, which is possibly the lamest pit stop known to man. There was no candy to speak of, just a diner full of old people. I told Susie I would never spend the night there, as it feels like one of those places populated by pod people.

11. We ate out twice. Once at McD's on the way down, mostly because I needed out of the rain and Maggie needed to release some energy in a play place. The other was at the Ruby's restaurant. For $18/person, it's not worth it. None of the food there is worth it, as Lonely Plant aptly pointed out to us. So I'm glad we took our own food. We had Naked Juice, pop tarts, hummus, chips, a 5 lb bag of Sour Patch Kids, and croissant sandwiches to tide us over. We ate well on our own.

12. Maggie is a good sport and loves hiking, though she always tries to get us onto paths that are the wrong way or don't exist. Dalton still dislikes hiking. He's the most content when we are all corralled in the hotel room and he has a full bed to himself to play on. Maggie also liked staying in the hotel because it has cable so we let her watch Playhouse Disney in the mornings while we got ready.

13. Both kids were so good in the car we hardly needed the portable DVD player. Dalton slept the whole way home, including during our entire stop at Cove Fort. It was a slow day at the fort and we were accosted by missionaries within minutes of our arrival.

14. We passed a place near Richfield called Fremont Indian Reserve that is hiking to caves with Native American Carvings. I'm very intrigued and know what our next day trip will be!

15. Lonely Plant doesn't always get it right. They think all Mormons are gay-bashers (they're only partly right) and that Mitt Romney was governor of UT. But their facts about the parks themselves tend to be more correct.

16. Maggie kept calling our hotel a cabin and said she liked Grandma's cabin better. I think she misses the pool table.

17. We bought two souvenirs: a yellow Smokey the bear shirt for Maggie and Dalton and a puzzle of Bryce Canyon. Maggie spotted it within seconds of entering the VC. That and the face cards (or matching as she calls it). I told her she needs to wear the Smokey shirt for Uncle Brook. Smokey and two bear cubs are putting out a fire. Maggie says "where did the fire go" so I showed them it was put out with water. We want no fire in the mountains I told her. "No fire in the mountains, only letters" she says. I later noticed it says "Only you can prevent forest fires" on the bottom of the shirt.

18. Everytime we saw hoodoos and arches, Maggie would point out the hole. "Who put the hole there?" I would ask here. "Collette did it," she says. I guess it's along a similar vein to who let the dogs out.

19. Maggie is fascinated with the letters on the mountain. She really wants to find an M. Just before Big Rock Candy joke is a town of 12 called called Marysville. They may not have running water, or indoor plumbing, but they have the prettiest M on the mountain! Maggie was thrilled.

20. We noted we were out hiking on Frances's 58th birthday. We think we paid decent homage to her by taking our kids out to find America, though we did avoid KOA.

[Comments] (2) and stuff: I am selling my gold Ford Escort to my nephews Chad and Justin. What the state is thinking allowing these hoodlums to drive is beyond me. But what can you do? My sister needs another car and I figured, since I don't need mine for the next year, why not? She's been a grand car (my car, not my sister). I got her about a week after my mission. So here we are, 9 years later, 85K miles later. I searched high and low for the title but cannot find it. But apparently in UT I can still sell it without it, by, you'll never guess...filling out extra paper work for the state to process!

Upon looking for the title, I ran across a black and white photo of Leonard and Susie circa 1985. Leonard's shirt says "Have a Smurfy Day!" I'm curious how to accomplish this. I have a feeling, based on the picture on the shirt, that it involves taking a nap on a cloud that has a rainbow on top. Yeah, I could use that right about now. I've always wanted to use the word circa in a sentence.

We're also renting our house while we are gone. Between a forgone car, packing up the house, getting immunized (did that Monday), etc, things are starting to come together.

[Comments] (3) wearing genes: Dalton appears to be his daddy's boy. He's an early riser like me, which is great on the weekends. I get to snuggle him in a nice quite house, while mommy and her little protege Maggie sleep in.

It's raining today, ruining my plans for a nice run and marathon day of yard work. When we told everyone in CA we were moving to UT, they all told us we'd miss the weather. But you only have one season in CA, I'd mention. Sure it's awesome, but it's all the same. But UT only has two, they'd retort. Too hot and too cold. Tis true; spring and fall seem to be nonexistent. How did I not notice this growing up? At least it never snows in May in India!

Today, instead, I get to help someone move and go to a boring church meeting. At least next week's work schedule is somewhat promising: I'll be in Dallas for training and can enjoy a nice, quiet hotel room for some relax time.

I finished Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" this week. Dreadful. His books really are all the same. Though the more I think of it, I really disagree with Joseph Walch that he's anti-Christian. I think the point he's trying to convey is that all religious and social milieu can be traced back to one beginning; this explains the similarities. Which one is still pure (if any) and which have been corrupted is the question. But regardless, focusing on the similarities in the world's cultures is the right thing to do. Enough pontificating; regardless of the message, the book was still horrid.

where have all the 5K's gone?: I am running a 5K in Draper in two weeks to support a Draper City police officer with a rare kind of cancer that, shock, his insurance won't cover. I heard about this 5K in the Draper paper. Also included in the paper were adds for Bake Sales to cover medical costs for people that have pre-existing conditions not covered by their insurance. Alas, every page of the paper was covered with sob stories.

So, for all the faults of the health care bill, one question looms large: when everyone is taken care of, what will we run for? Or bake for? Indeed.

[Comments] (2) doing without: I have determined that wallets, keys, and cell phones are extremely hard on dress pants. As such, I am scaling back on wearing such items. I keep my keys in my briefcase on work days and only wear them on weekends. I keep my wallet in my briefcase on weekdays and just leave it in the car on weekends (out of sight of course).

The phone is harder to part with, however.

I don't miss the key lines on my pants or the rate at which a wallet rips a whole near the back pocket. I think I'm truly onto something here.

never more: They have turned off the white noise at work (though the intent for such action is unknown; I suspect it's broken, given our history with the management company here). It is eerily quiet and I can hear phone conversations across the cube banks. That means my phone conversations are no longer private. What to do?

Anyone else ready for 'Lost' to be done?

[Comments] (2) Maggie Funnies: Maggie: Who's at the door?

Me: It's nobody.

Maggie: It's yes-body.

I think I hate weedwhacking more than anything else in life.

[Comments] (3) Happy Days: I don't have to go back to work until June!

Today I worked from home, and Dalton kept pulling on my mouse cord, so I unplugged the mouse and let him play with it, as using the mouse pad on the laptop was less annoying than the constant tugging. Now my mouse won't work. I guess that's what I get.

Susie and I watched "Seven Pounds" last night and it was fine, but I'd never watch it again; it's too depressing. But I think we should subject teenagers to watching it, because it shows what comes of texting. As the news reported here in UT, texting is the leading cause of teenage deaths. I think they mean texting while driving; otherwise, I'm very confused. I also assume the title of the movie has reference to Shakespear's "Merchant of Venice" but who can say?

Other new haps including packing up all our belongings and placing them into one room in the house, watching Rachel book tickets to India while we still sit on the sidelines, and preparing for our yearly jaunt to Provo tomorrow to visit Frances, Roy, and the Y on the mountain.

for the dead: Yesterday we went to Provo. We hiked up to the top of the Y on the mountain. Maggie first thought we had chanced upon snow; she never really seemed to internalize that we were indeed atop the big Y on the mountain she pines for so often. It was a very strenuous hike and gave me blisters. It also gave me heart attacks watching kids climb all over it like it was a ride at an amusement park. The Y is very unstable and at a very steep grade. But I guess when you have 10 kids, what's the difference if one falls off?

After we had lunch at Hogi Yogi and then onto visit Roy & Frances. Maggie got a time out at the cemetary, but Dalton was having fun eating the plastic fork I brought to stick Dalton's homecard i luv you card into the grass. For once, the tombstone was actually clean of debris!

Today we went to the Lehi Cemetary with Grandma June. She pondered having her name on a tombstone while I dug around Grandpa to plant some fountain grass. I told Grandma it blooms like wheat and she was so impressed I knew how to use a shovel. I had to carfully plant the night-lights on the edge of the fountain grass so it won't get mowed over. Hopefully I built a sufficient bumper around the plant. We also put down some daisies and a note from Maggie on Grandpa's grave.

Grandma was thrilled that we brought her a nice, comfy, padded folding chair to sit on and a blanket to snuggle with Dalton (it's windy and 50 degrees outside in our anti-spring world here) but unfortunately, what with all the grandma-planning, we forgot the camera.

Next we went to American Fork cemetary to visit Grandma and Grandpa Chadwick's gravesite. Good thing Grandma June came with us; she remembered where it was, next to the bench, as I couldn't for the life of me remember where they were buried; I don't think I've been to visit them in 7+ years. We also gave them some daisies and a card made with love by Dalton.

Lastly we took Grandma to Zupa's for lunch, on us, for a change. She not only ate her entire bowl of soup, she also ate a whole piece of bread and two of our chocolate-dipped strawberries. She would have eaten all three but I wouldn't let her eat Maggie's. Then we played at Grandma's house for a while and now we are at home resting from our day of the dead excursions.

[Comments] (1) today and beyond: Packing and boxes, boxes and packing. That's pretty much the life right now. We move in two weeks, though our visas are still in limbo. I guess our stay at the 'rents house will be longer than we thought. I hope they don't mind; I already know we mind. As much fun as it is to be delayed and living out of a suitcase is, I'd rather be on my merry way.

Yesterday I was running late to a meeting in Farmington and so of course I got pulled over for speeding. The officer didn't give me a ticket, however! He said thanks for being honest about speeding and let me go on my way.

I'm reading the Hunger Game series and can't put them down.

[Comments] (2) lost and found: I was invited on Monday to a reunion of Vocal Ensemble, an elite group of the top 28 voices in my high school. Twelve years down the road, I must admit, I was not good at keeping in touch with any of the old clan. I had moved on, and had reservation about attending the event last night.

Also, I apparently was missing. No one could find me. They finally tracked me down in the nick of time for the reunion. I had no idea I was missing. Apparently not having a Facebook makes it easy for one to go missing.

Anyway, Susie had a piano recital, so I took the kids and went. I made a goal to talk to everybody and not just my old clan of friends. I had a really nice time. I must have been missed, not having been at any previous gatherings, due to being lost, because people were also interested in my kids. A handful of people complimented them thoroughly. And I've learned that it's a huge deal when you can eke out a compliment from those who already have multiple kids of their own. Jana in particular was enthralled with Dalton and held him for about half of the time I was there.

Also, apparently the past 12 years have been good to me. Several people told me they didn't recognize me and thought I was the spouse of a female VE alumna.

I've avoided high school reunions because I didn't want to relive any popularity contests or engage in a debate as to who had spent the past 12 years in the greatest endeavors; but this gathering wasn't like that at all. Everyone was very complimentary of each other and genuinely interested in each others lives. I think I'll continue to avoid the reunions, however. As mentioned above, this group was the cream of the crop; I guess I shouldn't be that surprised how nice everyone was.

[Comments] (5) 5-year blur: I received accolades recently for my 5-year anniversary with EY. To reward me, I was allowed to choose a gift. The gift choices included a toaster, a waffle iron, some jewelry, an MP3 Player, etc. All interesting choices as a way to celebrate 5 years of service. I chose a suitcase, since it'll come in useful on our move.

Can't wait to see how I'll be rewarded for 10 years of service. Perhaps I'll get a tie rack!

wishful thinking: I really wish my local ward would check their politics at the door when they come to church. There's a new 's' word in town....

[Comments] (2) in His hands: Moving out of my house tomorrow. Still to green light from the Indian consulate. Basically, we are going to be living on faith that we won't be homeless for too long. I'm told the last coach got the green light two days before they wanted him there; he technically made it on time because of that.

Going to IL all next week for training. Looks like, one way or another, I'm going to be living out of suitcases for the next month at least.

steak and eggs: It's tornado-ing in the vicinity all week. The nearest shelter to my training room is the men's room. Yeah, that's where I want to hudddle with 30 coworkers; in a tres fragrant room. At least it's functional, I suppose.

The food here isn't terrible, and the exercise facility is fab. But I'd rather be home.

robert frost: I took an evening stroll today, with only the lightning bugs to light my way.

letting it all out: Maggie is obsessed with that idiotic new show Wipeout. She calls it the owchie show and asked to watch it tonight. It's not on Friday, so we watched it online. She likes it so much she refused to take a potty break, instead peeing on my lap so she could continue watching the show. End result: no more show. That's bad behavior, and the show is horrid.

I wonder what she likes about it? Are the geniuses behind the show aware of its pull on toddlers?

[Comments] (1) travel pool: Was supposed to leave for India yesterday....not in the cards I guess...the other coach left yesterday.

At least I got to meet my new niece Kyli Rae!

Now that she is born, we can forget the baby pool and move onto a travel pool. Currently taking bids on our actual depart date for the skinny guess is July 17.

our curse: Our family decided to take a last minute trip to Vernal, UT to visit Dinosaur National Park. Vernal is about a 3-hour drive from SLC, with the first half of the trip providing beautiful scenery, and the last half of the trip providing scenery that could give Nevada competition for its ugliest scenic highway and byway distinction.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we were showered with the only baby crib in the joint. Unfortunately, it is missing a wheel. We pulled out the other 3 to make it balance; what else could we do? The one time we travel without our crib, and this is what we get. Lesson learned.

Saturday night we went hiking in a place about 10 miles north of Vernal to see some petroglyphs. We ate dinner there, which consisted of things we could eat that we found at the grocery store. Maggie ate an apple, Dalton ate baby food, Susie and I shared a salad, and I ate a nectarine. Incidentally, I would suggest this activity for anyone seeking a fun, cheap date. Give yourself ten minutes at the grocery store to make dinner you can eat at the park. Most deli sections provide free plasticware; however, if you pick anything juicy, like a nectarine, best also pick up some baby wipes.

The petroglyphs were pretty neat looking. Maggie hiked the entire trail, 1 mile, with many steep parts, and seemed to enjoy looking at the drawings.

Today was THE day. We started with continental breakfast, which was basically code for one waffle iron to be shared among the 50 guests at our hotel. Then we went to Dinosaur National Monument, the UT side, and saw some dino bones still buried deep in the rock. Maggie really enjoyed this! Then we hiked into a box canyon where a lady lived by herself in a log cabin from 1870-1950 something.

Next we drove into Dinosaur National Monument in CO, where, oddly enough, there are no dinosaur fossils! We enjoyed the 31-mile drive to see some pretty spectacular scenery, but alas, as always happens, we ran into a huge rain storm that dropped the temperature from the 80's down to a balmy 45 degrees. So no more hiking for us at this point. Every time we venture out, it rains. I guess that's why Bangalore won't have us; what do they need with more rain? At any rate, I've now been to CO! Maggie was deputized as a paleontologist and Dalton was deputized as a jr ranger. Maggie was given a Boy Scout iron-on badge and Dalton got a pin-on badge that, though pinned to his shirt, still somehow made its way into his mouth.

For dinner we chanced upon a chinese buffet where, for only $20, we ate every American Chinese dish known to man, also ate mac and cheese, jello shots for the kids, ice cream, Mongolian BBQ, and pudding!

The best part of this trip came during mile 89 of our trip today. I heard nothing but laughing and giggling from the backseat of the car. Maggie and Dalton were playing together and it was awesome. They'll be great playmates soon, if we can get them to share.

Tomorrow we will hit the actual dinosaur museum, and stop to pose with the 50+ kitschy statuettes of dinosaurs that adorn the town. The largest one, a T-Rex, has taken Sam Eagle's place. He is spouting Uncle Sam clothing and has two large USA banners adorning his left and right flanks. I'd love to see how they dress him up for the other holidays!

I would love to escape life one day and live in a small town like this. But not this one. My allergies have been unkind to me since we got here.

early or late?: Dalton has sprouted his first tooth! I guess I consider him early, since Maggie didn't sprout a tooth until she was 13 1/2 months old. But technically the 7-month mark is average tooth sprouting, so I guess he's late.

It's good Maggie was a late developer, because I don't worry about the Dalton milestones so much.

customer servant: I called Amex today to get a new credit card. Credit cards have a tendency to break easily in my wallet; they always get a crease down the magnetic strip that wears out over time. I've found that putting them in my wallet upside down helps, but I digress.

At the end of the call, the customer service representative thanked me for being a customer who consistently pays my bills on time. I didn't know what to say, other than "I don't know why you would thank me for that; doesn't paying my bills on time mean your company doesn't make money off me?" She laughed, I think because I am a customer, and I then caught myself and thanked her for appreciating my ability to be a responsible adult. But the comment really caught me off guard at first.

[Comments] (1) on the train: Today the lady next to me was putting her makeup on while on the train. I don't know if it was the jostling of the train, or a personal preference, but I think she looked better without the makeup. She put on way to much eye shadow, and her powder puff ball went everywhere.

I'm heading to Chicago again this week. I guess the firm feels bad at their lack of efficiency in procuring my visa. So instead of training the Indian new hires, now I will train the US new hires instead. They get younger every year.

[Comments] (7) many are called, but few are chosen: I spent last week in St Charles again, a quaint little town on the Fox River a stone's throw (45 miles) from Chicago. This time, instead of being trained, I did the training. I finally broke away from the facility this round, and perused the local city. I waited 45 minutes for my deep dish pizza, only to be extremely disappointed. It really was a pie! Problem is, I don't like pie. I prefer NY style pizza, though I've had the experience now at least.

My coworker and I walked home from the pizzaria. It was dusk, we walked through a cemetary, with fireflies to light the way. And we see a deer hiding behind a masoleum. It was a nice walk.

I also rented a bike and perused the river trail. Man, what they call rivers back East equates to a lake in these parts! It was huge, with motor boats and steamboats sailing up and down. It was nice to get away and forget my woes.

I found out, while in Chicago, that my visa is, well, not approved, but not rejected. Apparently I'm not a known terrorist to the Indian government, but simply a byproduct of the beuracratic system. My paperwork took a standard extra 4 weeks, no one cares, and there you have it. But they promised to issue my visa within the next two weeks. India will come, in it's own time.

I'm depressed to turn 30 in the states, but such is life.

We spent the weekend in Park City at Justin's condo. Having not visited Park City in the summertime, we didn't realize the condo has no A/C. We won't make that mistake again. But we went swimming at the clubhouse pool, and the kids had a ball.

We also went to the Canyon's and rode the gondola and the ski lift to the top of the mountain for a nice jaunt. We ended up hiking 3.5 miles, not by choice. After being thoroughly exhausted from our hike, we were informed that the ski lift only goes up! We were forced to walk all the way back down to the gondola. But it was a nice escape from the 100+ degree weather here in the valley.

I'm really not looking forward to turning 30.

[Comments] (2) fit for accountants: Our newest campus hire started this week. He also just bought a my neighborhood. His backyard is catty corner to my backyard. That makes 3 current Ernst & Young tax accountants on 3 consecutive streets. What is it about our neighborhood being so appealing to overworked, underpaid CPAs?

[Comments] (1) of ill repute: I feel like the undead. Apparently I have a viral ear infection reaking havoc on my vertigo. I am constantly dizzy and therefore am highly medictaed on stuff with side effects to counter the dizziness such as headaches, drowziness, and blurred vision. I thought maybe I'd rather by dizzy, so I tried going off the meds. That lasted about 4 hours. Drowziness and blurred vision, as awful as they are, beat a constantly spinning room.

We were hoping to go to St George next weekend. The doctor approved the trip, but advised me not to drive or to hike Angel's Landing.

Since my ear infection is viral, I have no choice but to wait it out. Hopefully another week and I'll be ok. And hopefully I can handle going back to work, since my doctor's note has run its course.

People have mentioned it's better to be sick here than in India, but I conjecture that the virus would not have found me in India. But who can really know?

This is turning out to be a pretty depressing summer indeed. And apparently it ends this week. Time flies living in your parent's basement.

snails in zion: Today we made an epic adventure out of Zion's national park. We roused ourselves early and made it into the park by 9 am to catch the shuttle. Our first stop was the end of the line: the Narrows. We hiked along the Virgin River trail, stopping only to watch deer munch on meadow grass and chipmunks beg us for our spare food, until the trail was no more. At that point, all that was left between the towering sand fins was the river itself. Maggie and I kicked off our shoes and waded into the water. It wasn't as cold as a lot of river water, but unfortunately the bottom was very rocky, so we waded around in the soft sand as much as possible. I couldn't balance myself on all the rocky parts and hold Maggie's hand, what with my balance problems, and the river was up to Maggie's knees. At that point we turned around and headed back to the shuttle.

A lot of people just dived on into the river, casting fears of blisters and wet socks to the wind. Another set of hikers bought water shoes to wear, while yet another set rented river shoes and staves in town. Next time, we'll have to try the rental river shoes, as both Maggie and I wanted to hike more than we did in the river.

We also hiked to Weeping Rock and the Emerald Ponds and ate lunch on the grass at the Zion Lodge. Interestingly enough, there were no squirrels there, ready to catch our crumbs.

This trail is home to the famous Zion snail, which is no bigger than my pinky fingernail. They covered the slick walls of the canyon, and are only found here. I wonder how they would taste cooked in butter and garlic.

We also hit the museum, and then it was off on the driving tour. Our car scaled the mountain to wait in line to take the 1-mile tunnel drive to the other side of the park. Because the tunnel was built in 1930, it doesn't handle RV's too well, so it switches directions every so often. We were last in our group in so we dawdled through the tunnel and took pictures through the various openings. To get here and back, we crossed the famous Zion's bridge (that is, famous to Whitney's, since they built it. I'd personally been previously clueless to its fame and glory).

Waiting our turn to go back through the tunnel and home, we chanced upon a herd of mountain goats crossing the road. We got some great pictures of them butting heads (so the rumors are true)! We went swimming tonight as well.

It's only 9 pm but I'm ready for bed. Tomorrow: CA!

[Comments] (2) labor-free Labor Day: Since I was not supposed to be here in September, I don't have a lot of work to do, and was able to escape working Labor Day this year! Unfortunately, I had a project that came in late and needed my magical touch, so I did work Friday night from about 7:30 until 2:30 in the morning figuring the thing out. But otherwise, I was free.

We went hiking on Saturday up Millcreek Canyon to Dog Lake. The trail was awesome, as it was completely in the shade. But it was an even numbered day, meaning there were bikes on the trail, meaning we were constantly moving aside and thus moving at a snail's pace.

Sunday we went to the cabin for a family party and had a great time. Maggie in particular had fun playing with Chad, Logan, and Chad's girlfriend on the swingset.

Monday we decided to enjoy the last day of summer at the Murray pool. It turned out to be chilly, however, so we opted for the indoor pool. The kids had so much fun, especially on the waterslide and the lazy river. We had so much fun we decided to get a 3-month membership to the pool and the gym for me, since I have nowhere to work out at, being homeless and all. We must have worn the kids out because Dalont took a 3 hour nap and Maggie laid on the couch with me, content to do nothing, while I read my book.

What would possess a person going to India to get a 3-month pool membership? Well. Susie and I both concur that India is no longer the reality. So we are making the most out of our time in the meantime and not worrying about silly things anymore like living out of suitcases, putting our lives on hold, or wasting time learing things about a country that doesn't want us. It's their loss anyway.

I finished the Hunger Games series yesterday and really enjoyed it. Today I starting reading the book Rachel gave me for my birthday.

response-ability: In honor of Utah college savings eduction month (or some such thing as advertised on the banner at work), I have set up UT 529 plans for my little ones. If you would like to donate to their funds, please respond or email me and I can give you the information to do so. Especially in light of Dalton's first birthday next month, we would appreciate donations in lieu of toys we don't need nor have room for in my parent's basement.

Also, to anyone considering opening college funds for their little ones, UT's 529 plan is supposedly the best in the nation. It's so flexible that if, say, Dalton doesn't go to college, the money can be transferred to someone else who is in college. Also, if you file a UT resident return, you can get a 5% credit for your donation on your return. I guess I've caught the college savings fever.

for the kids: Yesterday Maggie wanted a bite sized Reese's cup. I told her she was big and could unwrap it on her own. When she came to hand me the trash, the chocolate already in her mouth, I discovered she had unwrapped the foil but missed the brown paper, since it's the same color as the treat, and hey, why does candy need two wrappers anyway? I asked her if she liked eating paper and she said no. I wonder how many complaints Reese's has had over this.

Yesterday when I got up to go to the gym, Maggie told me "no daddy, don't go running; don't go anywhere." She used to wake up with me and tell me she wanted to go to work with me. She's cute, but I can't wait to not share a room with her anymore. It's too hard going to work with those kinds of sentiments being thrown at me.

I can't believe it's now October. The leaves are changing, and our faux India jaunt is at its half-way mark. Before we know it we'll be celebrating the holidays, ringing in a year new, and doing it all over again. Were it not for the wonderment of watching the kids growing up, it sure would be redundant, and therefore bland.

Dalton turns one in just a few days. Lately he's been daddy's boy, clinging to me and not wanting mommy, or even the popular Aunt Erin at times. He and I seem to understand each other and have a special bond.

And then there's Kyli, whom we babysit during the week. She smiles like the dickens, and is giving us lots of practice regarding having another child. Though it's overwhelming to let the kids outnumber the adults, it is doable, I've discovered, and that is comforting.

[Comments] (1) reading rainbow: I teased my 11-year old nephew about the HP7 movie coming out this fall, and asked if he was sad that Harry Potter died. He didn't believe me that Harry died, so what did he do? He went to the library, checked out the book, and verified this information for himself. Whatever it takes to get kids to read....

I also got my 16-year old nephew The Hunger Games for his birthday. He still hasn't read it, because he's too busy listening to metal and sexting on his phone, but his little sister read it in one day! Also, my SIL read them all too!

Now I'm reading The Kite Runner. I highly recommend it, even though it's more depressing than was Le Mis. It amazes me to read about the Taliban circa 2001 in Afganistan, the same year the big W decided to invade Iraq. The older I get, the less sympathetic I am to that egomaniac I shamefully voted for. Though in my defense, I only voted for his second term, since I was living in the Kong during the first election.

Speaking of election day, my company is sending me, and about 3,000 other people, to Orlando that whole week. I wonder why they would schedule a conference over election day?

half weekend: Since I've been en route to Chicago all day today, we only got Saturday to spend together. As such, we packed it full of fun activities.

With fall promising to come to UT eventually, we decided to try one more hike this summer in our newly-acquired, new fangled hiking shoes. We chose Lake Mary because it's only a mile hike; had we known it was a mile straight up, we may have changed our minds. We got lost at the very beginning (how lame is that) and saw an older gentleman trotting up the path. Susie went to ask him directions, and turns out, our older gentleman was none other than President Uchtdor, Second Counsellor in the First Presidency of the LDS church. He's a native German and was otherwise speaking German to his family. I always knew we were headed the right way if we could hear German coming up the trail behind us.

Susie and I were too shy, after we figured out who he was, to go back up to him and say hi or shake his hand or do some other such gesture that he's probably relieved we deprived him of. We also didn't bring the camera, which he also probably appreciates, and when I asked Maggie if she wanted to shake the prophet's hand and she said no, we left if at that. But it still feels slightly like a rock star sighting.

Well, I'm off to teach the future of the accounting profession a thing or two. Wish me luck.

[Comments] (1) ipod shuffle: Today I went to dinner with the other EY instructors, so that we could compare notes on our acedemic counterparts (each of us is co-teaching with a college professor) and on our kids. I shouldn't call them kids; they aren't kids. But I'm 30 now, so anyone's a kid, right? Some of them are barely 21....

I'm actually co-instructing with my old BYU professor. There are three BYU professors here this week actually, all of them my old teachers. I'm really enjoying the teaching, feel pretty connected to my students, and actually know all of their names, but I suspect I may only know their names associated with where they are sitting. My feet, however, ache from standing up for 9 hours straight, and my voice is slightly strained.

After dinner tonight we went to the on-site pub. I got questioned about my non-drinking by a real NYC upper west side semi-orthodox Jew. He didn't know much about LDS, we so swapped stories. I found it interesting that he is leaving early Friday to get home before sundown. He refrains from TV on Sundays but does use electricity, something I didn't know could be considered a no-no to some of the community.

I also got rangled into playing shuffleboard. Normally I avoid sports, any sports, including half sports like pool and karaoke, but they needed another player and I couldn't deny them. I played AWESOME! I think I knocked their socks off and really surprised them with my skills. I still claim beginner's luck, but it could also be related to the various inebretation levels. Although, now that I hang with the older folks at the firm, the drinking level has dropped from reckless to responsible. All in all, thus far, it's been a lot of fun.

: I drank the Kool-Aid all week training the new hires and surprisingly didn't get sick.

riddles in the dark: Against my better judgment, Susie & I attended a ghost hunt at the Daughter's of UT Pioneer building, across the street from the UT state capitol.

I normally don't like ghosty things, and will pull the covers over my head at the things that go bump in the night, generally speaking. But something told me I should go, since about 90% of my family was going. It wasn't peer pressure; I suppose it was more curiosity mingled with needing a Halloween adventure in the post-Bangalore fiasco. We all now what curiosity did to the cat; nevertheless, not being feline and having but one life to give, I courageously grasped my flashlight and entered the abyss.

We are pretty sure we made contact with two different ghosts/spirits/whatnots. We tried to confirm that the second spirit was not the first spirit following us around. There certainly was some adrenaline in the room when you talk to nothing in particular in the dark, ask a question, and see the flashlight on the floor turn off and on. But, surprisingly enough, it was not scary at all. The scariest moments on the night included a display case of pioneer dolls and a ghost with a sense of humor. My nephew Justin can't hold still and was constantly banging into things. His brother, Chad, asked the ghost if we could borrow a straight jacket for Justin and the ghost turned the light on! We also sang the ghost "Popcorn popping on the apricot tree" and some Christmas carols, which seemed to liven things up. I also asked the ghost if he were unhappy and he said yes. I didn't care to ask any follow up questions. We also asked the ghost to touch any outstreched hands. I quickly shoved mine in my pockets. I have no desire to take the experience that far.

In the end I was tired and could have fallen asleep on the floor; that's how unscary it was, even though we had an eventful night. Part of that was that there were 16 of the living in our company, greatly outnumbering the others, I would imagine. Also was the fact that the museum had many sensored lights we could not turn off. Lastly was the fact that this haunted museum was in the middle of downtown and not on some ill-begotten freeway in the badlands. And we were on surveillance cameras the entire time as well, being monitered by UT's finest law enforcers, including my BIL Dave who was packing heat.

I'm glad I went. It was fun and not scary. But I probably won't be volunteering again anytime soon. I'm curious to see what the EVP picks up.

Links to various stories on the museum include the following:

Deseret News article on young woman we read about in the museum but did not encounter

Another encounter

[Comments] (7) letters from abroad: Hello John,

Hope this e-mail finds you doing well.

After all these months, I am happy to advise you that your Indian employment visa has finally been issued.

Your families visa applications will now be submitted to the consulate for processing. I anticipate that your families visas should be issued by mid next week, however, as we have come to konw, the consulate is not predictable, therefore, I will update you once I receive approval of your families visa applications.

I thank you for your patience over all these months.

I will arrange for the return of your passport once your families visas have been issued, and we can send all the passports back to you at once. (Should you like your passport sent back to you first I can arrange that as well)

All the best, Law Firm

Of course I want my visa now! I don't dare believe the email until I hold that passport in my hands!

[Comments] (4) their eyes were watching Dalton: With our visas finally in our possession, we are ready to rock and roll! We are taking a red eye December 2 to NYC, where we will have a 10-hour layover. Plans include relaxing over breakfast at Leonard's house (Leonard willing =)) and then jaunting over to Manhatten. In deciding what would be most fun for the kids, we decided to take them to see the Christmas tree and the view from Rockafeller Center.

Then it's back on a plane for a night/day ride to Dehli, a 3-hour layover in the big taco, then a final 3-hour leg onto Bangalore. We arrive the night of the 4th.

I'm terrified for what Dalton will do on the plane. Between the teething and the curiosity of that boy, we may make more enemies than friends on that plane. But hopefully his adorableness coupled with Maggie's calm demeanor will win over the airline crowd.

Also, we get there 2 days before Rachel leaves; additionally, we will be there for Leonard's SIL's wedding in Mysore. So family reunions abound!

But before we go, I have to survive Thanksgiving and presenting at the SLC tax conference this Thursday.

[Comments] (1) flying solo: While Susie flies to NYC, I fly parenthood solo. And while Susie's flight got in early, my flight is experiencing turbulence.

I slept cold, alone, and horribly last night. But today has been better. The kids are happy and fed, though Dalton wouldn't eat the hot dog I gave him for lunch. We played with the Lite Brite (which of course Dalton tried to swallow) and threw tennis balls down the stairs for a good hour. Dalton is napping, after which we will hit the town for some shopping. Dinner tonight will be anywhere with a play place.

[Comments] (4) Cheese!-less: And here I am without a camera, since Susie took it to NYC with her. This morning Maggie helped me shovel the snow, and she did really well at it! And no camera.

Yesterday Maggie was upset we had no presents under the Christmas tree so we ran to Target to fill the void under the tree. And no camera to catch Maggie putting presents under the tree.

Yesterday morning I had both kids snuggling me in bed. A camera certainly would have captured that moment well.

Maggie has proven quite adept at the Lite Bright. And no camera to capture her artwork.

Oh well. I guess it just means we'll have to re-live these cute moments when a camera is handy!

[Comments] (1) John Denver: All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go

I'm standing here outside your door

I hate to wake you up to say good-bye

But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn

The taxi's waiting, he's blowing his horn

Already I'm so lonesome I could die

So kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you'll wait for me

Hold me like you'll never let me go

Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane

Don't know when I'll be back again

Oh baby, I hate to go

[Comments] (2) around the world in 47 hours: We made it! Our initial overnight flight TH night to NYC was just fine. The luggage all got checked with only one bag being overweight and incurring a $150 fee. All others were just fine. Checking the luggage obviously took a long time, but security had no line. Also, we were not subjected to pat downs or image scanning. Just the plain old metal detectors. Of course security took forever with two sleepy kids, 4 pairs of shoes, a laptop, tons of liquids, etc but we made it with about 20 minutes until our flight.

Maggie went right to sleep and Dalton did shortly after take off. I couldn't sleep a wink, but oh well.

NYC was manic. We followed rush hour into the city, and our cabbie was a dodger, so of course Maggie choked, ie threw up, en route to Leonard's house. We made it and slept about two hours on his couch bed, which was fabulous sleep indeed.

We then jaunted on the M line to Rockafeller Center to see the tree, ice skaters, and Susie's boss Kim Danger of We also went up Rockafeller Center for a view of the city. The view did not impress Maggie, but she and Dalton both loved the room up there that had these colored lights all over every surface that follow you when you walk. We then ate lunch with Leonard and headed back to the airport.

I think it's worth mentioning that Dalton charmed a few New Yorkers, a monumental feat.

We got back to JFK with about 3 hours until our flight, checked in, got our baggage transferred to Air India without a hitch, and got seated first, which was nice, as we got lots of good storage space. Air India was great! They gave Maggie a puzzle and story book to read. We had the back row of the first coach compartment, next to the bathroom. We also had an empty seat next to us so we had 5 seats to sleep in. Maggie slept the middle 10 of the 14 hours, a dream come true! Also, once I laid down on the extra seat, I caught some meaningful zzz's as well. Susie and Dalton didn't sleep as well, however.

We arrived in Delhi 24 hours after we left NY, about 4 pm on Friday December 5. Then the real fun began. We had 3 hours until our flight to Bangalore. We were given mixed stories about luggage transfer in Delhi, since we had to go through customs there. Only one bag came out there! And it was a bag we gate checked and were told would not be seen again until Bangalore. So then we went searching for the stroller, which also was not supposed to be seen until Bangalore, but there it was. All our checked luggage was missing. We assumed that meant it was checked through Bangalore, but decided to check. We think they may have unloaded it from the plane rather than just answer our inquiry, and this process ate half of our layover. We somehow managed to get 15 luggage pieces onto two trolleys, with Maggie pushing Dalton in the stroller (SUCH a big helper =)).

We made it through customs without a hitch. I wouldn't want to look through that much luggage either. We then headed to the Bangalore terminal, only to find out that Dalton's seat had been cancelled. Apparently they are not used to infants with seats; rather than inquire, they cancelled our ticket. Turkeys. But the re-issued it, got all our luggage checked, and allowed us the extra carry-ons for this leg of the flight, to keep us moving. We made it just in time! Kudos Air India!

When we checked into International at JFK, the security once again required to imaging or pat downs. And immigration was a breeze! But checking into our Banglore flight required a mild pat down. But we didn't have to take off our shoes. And do you know how they check liquids? They make you drink some of it! Novel idea!

This last 3-hour leg took all the energy out of me. Maggie slept with Susie, leaving me with Dalton, who FINALLY fell asleep about 20 minutes befor we landed. But he made good friends with the gentleman next to us, since he kept throwing his crocodile at him.

In Bangalore we were greeted with an entourage of service folks who helped load all our luggage into our van, with two pieces on the roof. I was sooo nervous we were going to lose those two pieces on the hour car ride in, but we didn't.

Our driver was intense! Apparently the lines in the road are more of a suggestion than anything else, as I think we spent more time between lanes than in one. Also, honking your horn is required in normal intervals, not to exceed 45 seconds. Lastly, well paved roads can change to dirt and back again in a matter of seconds. But Maggie didn't get sick so it was considered a huge success.

We made it to Mercure around 1 am, checked into our abode, and finally went to bed around 2 am. Since the kids slept the last flight and in the car, they were wide awake, so convincing them to sleep was not easy.

Breakfast is included here, and was pretty good. We also took a rickshaw into town yesterday to buy groceries and eat lunch with Rachel, who is now an expert on all things India! We discovered that pasta sauce is ridiculously expensive, and that milk comes in bags! We also saw dogs, pigs, and cows. We walked back to our apartment on the quasi-sidewalks.

Last night we had dinner with the Erickson's. Maggie and Dalton had fun playing on their slide and watching "Dumbo."

Dalton woke us up around 4 am, ready to begin his day. I finally got up with him at 6:30. I leave for work in an hour. I am ready for the jet lag to end, and hope Dalton will cooperate!

We're loving it so far! Our expectations on things are low, based on our visa troubles, so when things go right, we are totally happy. And we consider no lost luggage and fast internet access huge successes! Also, seeing Rachel and Leonard this week and moving to our new place next to the office this weekend are also great things.

The sights, sounds, and smells remind me greatly of Hong Kong, with one glaring difference: people are MUCH nicer here! Well, duty calls.

[Comments] (3) day one: Acclimating slowly.

Today I took in a picture of Susie & I back when we were engaged. I was told by Bhata that I look like "Harry Potter Hero" and I'm quite sure I don't. Daniel Radcliife may be the same age I am, but we are not doppelgangers. I guess he found resemblance in the glasses. I'm not sure why it's called Harry Potter Hero, but I later told him he was my hero when he helped me install a printer on my machine.

Today we took a group to lunch at National BBQ, I think. We ate on the roof and it pretends to be Brazilian BBQ but in my mind was much better. They had pineapple, bell peppers, shrimp, fish, chicken, and a buffet. I filled up on the grilled stuff and have been a little bit sick lately due to eating or touching something not quite clean, so I just sat and waited for them to eat. Now they think I don't eat anything, and I'm sure my physique only confirms this lie to them. I'll show them next time, once my iron stomach kicks in.

On the way back to the office, our rickshaw driver was carrying on a conversation with another rickshaw driver as we barrelled down the road at 40 kph. They were talking for a good 5 minutes. That takes skill!

Tonight we ate crepes at the Oasis mall. Since our driver was busy, we took a rickshaw and Dalton seems to enjoy it, though he does look mildly scared sometimes. I wonder what he thinks of this whole thing. Poor guy is still jet lagged (had me up at 5:30 this morning) and seems confused. Maggie, however, seems totally acclimated. She doesn't seem to get scared and takes it all in stride. She's still talking about the impending elephant ride, which we will do our best to produce once we get settled in our final destination.

[Comments] (1) daily download: Everything seems super expensive here! I guess when the conversion factor is 44:1 that's to be expected, but it's hard to divide by 44 in my head, so everything seems to cost a lot.

I think my need to be nice is going to be hard to overcome here, and will lead me to be taken advantage of rather frequently. I guess I'll either learn to toughen up or I'll learn to let Susie do everything!

I'm trying really hard not to compare everything to Hong Kong here, because I don't think I would like someone from India coming to the US and constantly comparing me to, say, Guatemala. But there are a lot of things that are similar to me.

As for comparing Bangalore to Hong Kong, one thing that is very different is ME. I am no longer a poor missionary. People still look at me, but not like they did as a missionary. And I'm not constantly on the street engaging the common man. I am uneasy having a driver, although it is necessary. I never felt rich in America. Comfortable, content, but not rich. But obviously I am now. And I need to remember that. But still not be a pushover.

hot and cold: So today we attended Sumana's sister's wedding. It was a large ordeal, and Dalton practically stole the show. Apparently at Indian weddings it is completely acceptable to come in and out and talk loudly during the 3-hour ceremony. As such, we only showed up for the final 30 minutes. It seemed lovely, everyone seemed blissfully happy, and the food was great!

We had the banana leaf meal, which is quite exotic. They come and put a little from column A, etc on your banana leaf and then you dig in with your fingers! There were only 3 items I didn't really eat; everything else was very tasty. I especially liked the sour yogurt with sugar crystals on top, the carrot concoction, the green bean concotion, and the fried rice concoction. Maggie enjoyed the tortilla-like items as well as the salt pile. She also liked the ice cream.

It was hard to eat with my fingers, especially with Maggie on my lap. Quite a bit of the food ended up on Maggie's dress and in her hair, poor thing. And I started to eat with my left hand, which is also a no-no. Earlier in the day we visited a temple and I knew to take off my shoes but was later told one must also cross the mantle with one's right foot. I don't recall if I did or not, but some of the people in the temple scowled at us the whole time so it's entirely possible I made another Indian faux pas. Oh well; I'm trying.

Today we got passport photos after the wedding. On the way back to pick them up I donned shorts and a T-shirt. I can tell they were sniggering at me. I don't care. My frame of reference for wintertime includes snow and below zero temperatures, not blazing heat (I was DYING at the wedding with all those people) and sunshine.

Tomorrow we move to our place next to the office, and next to a grocery store! I feel bad making our driver stick around so I send him home a lot only to later need milk or apple juice, staples at our house. Now we can just walk!

[Comments] (1) driving in circles: So yesterday we moved into our new place. I don't think words can describe. I really expected it to be much much nicer or at least much more American. But I'm not sure why I thought that would be the case. I guess perhaps because the last set of Americans to live here didn't complain much, I assumed it must be different.

Anyway, the bathrooms leave MUCH to be desired from an American's point of view. But we have the kiddie tub for the kids, and Maggie doesn't seem to mind at all. So we'll just deal. Last night was a cold shower but I called the landlady and learned how to turn on the hot water. I wonder how long it lasts.

Anyway, after dropping off our things, we went to Hyper City, a sort of IKEA meets Target. It was fab. We decided to buy our own bath towels, our own bed sheets (in teal, to spruce the place up), Piglet sheets for Maggie, 3 floor rugs, and a ton of cleaning supplies, which have occupied the last two days. We've also hung some pictures from home. The end result is that the floors no longer leave our feet black (slightly grey only) and the place feels like home. The living area lets in great light in the afternoon. We still need to deep clean the bathrooms, but I think we're procrastinating because neither of us wants to do it. We spent 8,700 rupees or US$190 to spruce the place up. Check Susie's picture blog for details.

The nice things here are that we have more space, a washing machine, and I am much closer to work. And I guess it now feels more like we live here rather than we are visitors. The downsides are the bathrooms, smallish bugs (very small so not scary but just an annoyance really), less comfortable beds, and an uninviting lobby. But Mercure charged US$15/day for Susie to be there and charges about US$20 for a load of laundry, which is unacceptable for how many of us there are. We'd spend $100/week easily on that! So we're better off here. We'll post pictures in the future.

Today was District Conference so had to go downtown to church. We left an hour before and we were 10 minutes late because we got horribly lost. Partially lost because our driver assumed the first Christian church on the street was ours, which was not, as it was Catholic, and partially because our church building was hiding from us. Note to President Monson: if you put up a sign advertising yourself, you might produce more walk-ins.

Dalton had two dirty diapers so I missed most of church taking care of that since there is no changing station in the building. Note to President Monson: a worldwide church should cater to diapered children as well as not. But we own our own building there with lots of parking and even a BBall court. I was surprised there are only 4 white families in the district, other than missionaries. We are a minority here.

Last night we finally hit McDonald's for the chicken nuggets and the Maharaja Mac, which was really good. We fed the whole family for about $5!

Tomorrow is back to the grind!

a job is a job: I've decided that overall life in Bangalore is not that much different that life was in LA. I live in a small apartment that appears to be rather expensive and requires a lot of maintenance. Traffic is absolutely horrid, as it took me 25 minutes to go the 2 km home from the office this evening. Work still requires some long, odd hours. And shows like iRobot and A Beautiful Mind can be seen on the telly while the distant din of Old Madras Road/the 55 freeway can be heard in the distance. The weather is also comparable.

Some differences include that there are really no partners or clients to deal with here, I sang "His Cheeseburger" for about 60 people today over samosas and chocolate cake, the internet is slower, cows don't wander the roadway, and people don't urinate on freeway walls during their normal commute

I really think Rickshaws could revolutionize the LA freeway gridlock.

Compared to UT, the climate is a big difference, and the people are much nicer here. I couldn't get the treadmill to work this morning at the gym and the lady next to me paused hers to help me out!

Overall Bangalore vs other places isn't all that different when 9-5 is spent in the employ of others. What you do with your evenings is your own, and often is similar from place to place. I think it will mostly feel like Bangalore on the weekends.

[Comments] (3) other jobs: I have a personal driver, Sandeep. He drives me to and from work, and drives Susie around as desired. We also have him on the weekends. I can't help but think this is a very boring job.

Our building also employs people who push the button on the elevator for you. Another dismal job.

Another job entails checking under every car that comes into our work for bombs. Again, not a very thrilling job.

This definitely makes me grateful for my job.

My job tends to run later here, ie 10 am to 6:30. I guess I don't mind, but in the states I prefer to hit work before the kids wake up. Waiting until 10 am for work means I have to listen to Dalton cry when I leave, which I don't like at all. But going in earlier would be wasteful because no one would be there to coach!

Although I don't have a lot to do every day to keep busy, the days go by fast. This is mainly because I take teams to lunch because they can't run through expenses here. Lunch normally runs from about 12-3. No kidding. Today's lunch was quite the lengthy ordeal. And my computer here is very tempermental. And I answer a handful of questions a day. The rest is spent in chit chat with my counsellees. So between these activities, the whole day is occupied. It's a far cry from the long client-serving days of yore. I could get used to this!

just a nibble: I've decided a few things that will make my stay in India much easier:

1. I will only eat veg dishes when I eat Indian food. I stand much less of a chance getting sick.

2. I will take one of everything that is Indian, take one bite, and only eat the good stuff. Life's too short to spend in the bathroom or with a scorching hot mouth.

3. I will eat American food for dinner every night (yay comfort food!) and will spend what it takes to keep our house clean and liveable.

I've had traveller's curse since we got here, and Maggie and Dalton also had a bout with it. Now it's finally Susie's turn. I think it's because she ate the chicken at Big Bazaar. Like I said, when eating Indian, it's best to stick with the veg dishes.

We have our weekends booked for the next two months with activities, including a trip to ride an elephant on Christmas day, a trip to the Mysore Palace to see Sumana's mother, an overnight train ride to see the ancient Hampi civilization, and then local activities such as parks, museums, and the like in Bangalore. I'm excited for the weekends to come!

[Comments] (3) mormon standard time: Friday was bring your family to work day. Many people brought their parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, roommates, etc. It was quite the ordeal. Susie and the kids came over and stole the show. We were showered with pretty cake that tastes like nothing (just like they serve in the Kong), tomato potato chips, curried potato chips, and mango juice. When Maggie is shy, she pretends to be a horsie and neighs at people. They don't quite get it. When Dalton is shy, he screams. And because the people here are VERY adverse to children screaming, they quickly give him right back to us.

Saturday we went Christmas shopping and they were actually playing Christmas music in the store! Though the Christmas music was slightly off the norm. We bought Santa presents for the kids and for our driver's son. That night was a Christmas party at the church at 4:30. We arrived on time only to sit around until 6:30 and finally leave before anything had actually happened. We were able to eat some cotton candy and popcorn, and many people borrowed our kids for pictures in front of the Christmas tree, but that was it! No dinner (still in the works), no program (still in the works also) when we left two hours after the advertised start time. I should have known.

Today was church. No one played the piano so I volunteered and certainly did not play my best. But I don't care; if no one else can play, my plunking is better than nothing. Although I must admit, the members all sang with much gusto and stayed relatively in key and sang the more-or-less correct melody to the songs. That was a nice change from most wards that feebly mumble the words, allowing the organist to mostly play a solo.

We have mostly located the 10 or so stores that carry all the essential US foodstuffs now. We had egg mcmuffins for breakfast yesterday and chocolate chip pancakes for dinner today. Hopefully our bowels and diets will now return to normal! It's mostly the kids now that need the re-adjustment.

I've noticed that when people tell me where in India they are from, I normally reply with "oh that's north." This normally gets me chastised. Even though there are only two territories south of Karnataka, and Bangalore is in the extreme south corner of this state, and I know the names of the two provinces south of here (Tamil and Kerala), I get chastised for assuming they are from the north. When I say North, I mean north of Bangalore. But they all think I mean north India, a different country to itself. I guess we look at the globe differently.

[Comments] (1) all things elephant: For Christmas Eve last night all the outsourced couples gathered at Alan and Kerri Erickson's house for a Bangalore Christmas party. We decorated sugar cookies for Santa (and ourselves!), played some gift exchange games (wherein Susie & I totally cleaned up) and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Each family brought a different tradition and ours was the cookies.

During the gift exchange, we won bacon (imported!), ribs (also imported!), a watch, Crisco (also imported!), and a gingerbread kit. Like I said, we cleaned up. With 10 gifts total in the adult pile, we went home with 5!

Christmas night we set out the gifts. Maggie got legos and Dalton got a Handy Manny tool kit, which is kinda noisy, but a big hit with the kids. Santa brought Dalton a box of 25 balls and Maggie an Elefun! Unfortunately, Elefun does not come with batteries, and Big Bazaar was completely out last night at 9 pm. So Christmas was slightly tainted. However, we found an Office Depot on the way home from our Christmas activity today that actually carries C batteries. Apparently batteries are not common here because most people at the store didn't know what I was looking for.

Today we went to the zoo! The zoo costs $4/person and includes a safari ride. Because we are white, and therefore rich, we got to ride in the front of the bus, have someone snap all of our pictures for us, and didn't have to wait in line. In exchange for all of this, we were coerced into a tip. I gave about $2.50, which is a lot, but it was worth it not to wait in line. I feel like I flew first class today! The safari was totally awesome! We literally saw lions, tigers, and bears, all extremely up close.

We also got to ride an elephant! The kids were free and the elephant ride cost $1.50 per person. Again, we had to tip to have our pictures taken, but that only cost $0.50. Then I held out a coin in my hand and the elephant tried to take it from me. But his aim is poor and his trunk kept getting Maggie, which didn't make her too happy.

The kids were as popular as the animals. One man gave the kids cookies and wanted a picture with Maggie. Maggie was a good sport. Eventually I realized he wanted ME to take a picture with MY camera. What am I supposed to do with this picture? Most people that ask take a picture with their own cameras.

Also, the animals are very accessible here. The zebra was right against the fence and people were petting it, then turning around and pinching Dalton's cheeks. Thanks for the germs people! We only petted the elephants, however, as they are the only animals with zookeepers monitoring the petting process.

The zoo takes 90 minutes each way, which is a bummer. But we had a lot of fun for under US$20. One odd charge, however, is $0.50 to take your camera inside. In comparison, dinner at Domino's cost about the same, although we bought enough pizza for leftovers tomorrow. And those batteries for the elefun cost about half of the trip. In the US, for the whole family, a safari and elephant ride would probably cost hundreds of dollars. Next time I'm going to ask for tips to take pictures with my kids. I could have easily payed for the trip this way!

This is hands down the best Christmas ever!

smallish world: I also forgot to write about the car trip to the zoo. Apart from Maggie throwing up sugar cookies in the car, our driver was also listening to a station that played a mix of traditional Christmas songs, disco Christmas songs, last year's Top 40, and this really wierd song that was instrumental except for every once in a while it would state "Barbara Stresiand." I wonder if they like Barbara Streisand or not. I didn't find the song to be flattering at all.

Another thing I forgot to comment on is how nice it is to have Facebook, Youtube, email, etc for this international jaunt. Back in 1999, the internet was still new-ish, and my extremely non-early-adopting church did not approve. As such, I lived for mail, even if it meant potentially reading stacks of letters out of order. It's nice to have real-time updates this go-round.

This week is my second week of teaching training. It sure makes the day go by fast, but is also very exhausting.

the good and the bad: Here's my list of ten things to love and to hate about India. First, the hate:

1. Everyone is always late. Our driver is always late, my coworkers are always late, church functions start hours late, even something simple like booking a hotel takes time because the response time for them to call you back about how much an extra bed costs can literally take DAYS. I guess that explains the visa delay.

2. If you are nice to people, they will take advantage of it.

3. There are no tubs to be found; just a shower spigot and a shower curtain to accompany it. And the hot water is difficult to get in the zone.

4. The stray dogs. The one in our village should be dead any day now; he's losing hair in clumps all over his body and his nose looks pink and rotted.

5. The no-picture policy at a lot of stores, etc. Who cares? Some stores won't even let you take a camera inside. Like I'm really gonna check my camera at the door.

6. The traffic, which is a cultural interest at first, loses all cache when your kids are constantly motion sick.

7. The elevators in our complex are slow and usually don't work. We're talking 5-minute wait to go up four flights of stairs. And at work I'm not allowed to push the button because they pay someone else to do that for you.

8. The food. It's just hard on my American stomach and honestly doesn't taste great.

9. The floors. I don't miss carpet but some hardwood or linoleum would be a nice change to very hard tile and marble that Dalton constnatly bangs his head on.

10. The power outages.

Now the good list =):

1. Travel is cheap. We are going to Mysore tomorrow, Hampi in three weeks, Pondicherry 3 weeks after that, and Goa in May! We are staying at all-inclusive places and have tour guides, etc and each trip is like US$500 for several days. The transportation or the hotel alone is often more than that back home.

2. My coworkers are very good people, albeit habitually 30 minutes delayed to everything. I enjoy working with them.

3. We are close to Hong Kong! We booked a 9-day excursion there (with a day stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia beginning April 16)!

4. It's been fun to experience a new way of life, even if it is sometimes frustrating. It makes life fun to try new things.

5. The weather here is great!

6. Though our driver is late and communicates his days off with zero notice, it's nice to have a driver. I get to stop and enjoy travelling more and don't get upset on traffic delays.

7. I live 10 minutes from work, which means more time with the family here. They join me for lunch every day.

8. It's fun to be the minority, at least for me. UT is so blah in that respect and I only live there because of family. I enjoy being in more diverse places, and Bangalore (at least within EY) draws people from all over India. And my kids are the hit of every party!

9. People are much kinder here than anywhere else I've ever lived.

10. There is no concept of keeping up with the Joneses here. I feel blessed every day for what I have here, because there are many reminders of those blessings. I like that.

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