Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I really don't have a clue how to write this post.

My father in law, Dennis Blackburn, passed away very unexpectedly last Thursday. We will miss him terribly. He was a great father in law, father, and grandfather. He was a great example to Phil. I credit him with teaching Phil how to be the great husband and father that he is.

As a result we are back in the US earlier than we expected. We finished things up as quickly as we could in India, had our movers come a few days early, cancelled our travel plans, and returned to Utah to be with Phil's family. It was one of life's tender mercies that those arrangements all went as well as they possibly could have. We will be here for a few weeks.

And you miss out on all the witty little goodbye India posts I had planned. Maybe at some point I'll get back around to posting about our last few weeks there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The night Max wore his wolf suit...

The invitation:

I was highly entertained, but then, I am his mother, and yes, sometimes I want to send him off to bed without his supper.

Church Worlds Colide

Some friends from Dallas are currently in India so we went to Chennai this past weekend to spend a little more time with them. You'll have to check out for the true lowdown on their travels, since I'm relying on their photography. Their travel agent/guide is a man we go to church with here. Also in Chennai are the McKinleys, some great friends of my parents, and mine as well.
You'll have to ignore N's frightful eyes, we are in the mad dash that is the last few weeks before we leave India. I don't have time to worry about devil eyes.
They are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I credit them with my travel bug, since my first international experience was under their wing.

It was an interesting mix: influential family friends, Indian acquaintance, post marriage friends from Dallas, all shaken together in Chennai, with a heavy dose of monsoon thrown in. In the end it was a great weekend. It felt really good to see familiar faces.

The boys, including Phil, just wore their swimsuits for Saturday's sightseeing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Birthween

We had a Halloween Birthday party in S's honor last night in the park across the street. I realized I'm too much of a control freak to handle India or kindergartners with grace, and the combination is deadly. Very little turned out how I'd envisioned. It could have had something to do with the Halloween theme in a country that doesn't do carved pumpkins and plastic teeth. But hey, the six year old had fun.

We made paper plate masks, thanks to My joy at finding these masks made me wish I had something I could hire them to design.

And each kid got a pumpkin to decorate:

In lieu of bobbing for apples, we tied apples with strings to the monkey bars. "No hands" was taken very literally.
I think N is eating a lollipop in every photo we took. No idea how many of those he ate.

The weather was perfect. The kids costumes were a lot of fun. Happy Birthday S!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Evil Eye

We went to the Indian Air Force Museum on Friday. Where we learned all sorts of new things.

One highlight was the "war trophies" from the 1971 war with Pakistan...

and the attempted evil eye. I guess they were unsuccessful?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Proud Owner

This took some getting. Fairly proud of it. Now that I have it. I had to have an interview; an interview at the Pakistani embassy. I had to go four days in a row. To get form. To turn form in. To have interview. To pick up visa. Plus there was the trip to the typist (the form had to be the original that they gave you, not available online, and typed) and the bank (to pay the visa fee) and the photographer (for those little pictures). How's that for adventure? Happy Birthday/Anniversary/Father's Day Phil.

Yeah, I'm not all that sad that a couple of the countries Phil really wanted to visit "on the way home," won't issue visas to Americans outside of the US. I don't know how many times I could do that.

And while I'm thinking about it, what do they do with all that paperwork anyway? And what about all those little immigration slips you fill out every time you enter and exit a country. Does anyone ever look at them? Do they get filed away forever? Do they have a huge bonfire every few months at immigration points worldwide?

I also like how my flash obscures any pertinent info, how's that for security measures.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Have you ever thought you wanted a driver?

We have had a string of drivers since being here, and now that we are about to leave, I think have finally figured out the problem and what we should have done months ago. Phil's company provides the car and driver for us. They just hire a car through a local company. Most expats, and many Indians have drivers. It's kind of expected if you're a foreigner. Not exactly sure why, except that driving here is crazy. Anyway, here's the summary of our last year:

Driver #1: No English. None. Very confusing trip from the airport to our hotel on arrival.

Jag Ram: Drove us for three days, then said he'd have to take a couple of weeks off since his chest was hurting and his doctor told him to rest. Um. Okay. Never heard from him again, we still ask each other from time to time what the chances are he had a heart attack.

The Burper: This guy burped all the time. Then he'd wave his hand in front of his mouth and waft it away. We asked for a new driver.

Rajesh: What a talker. This guy just didn't quit talking, but he was friendly, knew his way around. We were happy. His fatal mistake? He mentioned that we should just ask for a bigger car, since we didn't fit (with him) in the compact car we had. So we did; and Phil's company found a different vendor who would supply a minivan type for the same price. So good-bye responsible car company and goodbye Rajesh.

Mukesh: Polite, kind, knew his way around, was great with the boys, good English. We were in heaven. He wasn't. The car company was paying him about 60% of what he was worth, when they were paying him at all. He told us he had an emergency in his village and would be gone for a few days. That translates to "I'm quiting," I now know. Turns out he got another job. Good for him.

Mukesh replacement: Zero English. Didn't know his way around the city. Drove the complete opposite direction for S's play date that morning, but I couldn't tell him. Remember? Zero English. Didn't even last the whole day.

Uday: Ran away with his girlfriend one night. On the way out of town he stole the car owners cell phone. All after dropping us off at home. At least that's what we heard.

Harish: Caught him smoking pot with the neighbor's guards when I walked out to go pick S up from school one day.

Raj: Baby faced guy who was just dumb, really no kind way to put it. Had trouble getting back to point A, even when it was only 1km from point B, and you'd driven it an hour before.

Ram: This one was decent, he just rubbed me the wrong way. Obsequious, which considering that many in India still use "servant" to describe their driver, maybe that's how a driver is supposed to be, but I couldn't take it. Plus Phil thought he smelled bad. He lasted the longest, partly because I was gone for six weeks over the summer.

Preetam: Ram lined him up before he left (making sure to take a cut of his first two weeks wages), so I was suspicious, but it's worked out well. Except for the car company, who once again weren't paying him what or when they'd agreed to, and tried to fire him when he asked them to pay him. So, after huge confrontations with the car company, we switched back to the first one (which is what we should have done months ago). But they won't hire Preetam because he doesn't have a commercial license, which in India takes as long to get as we have left here. Ugh.

Driver #12: Supposedly a fill in for a few days until Preetam could start driving. Smoker. How long do you think he'll last?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Meet Pat

Baby Names - Name Badge Ticker

I had the big ultrasound today. The law abiding doctor wouldn't disclose the sex (it's illegal here, due to the STRONG preference for boys). He did shoot the ultrasonic waves around the sensitive area a bit, but I couldn't tell. Does that mean it's a girl? Earlier on I thought I saw evidence that it's a boy. So did Phil. Really we don't have a clue. So for now, it's Pat. Due March 13.

Whose idea was this counter? "Only 154 days to go"?! Yeah, that sounds wonderful.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Most Walkable

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So, turns out, Hong Kong is an amazing city.
Not sure how I missed that before.
We went for a long weekend last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I'm just gonna say, if you ever have to choose between Delhi and Hong Kong, go with Hong Kong.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I think my shoes are bad. All the other kids are faster than me. Or maybe theirs are newer or something."
- S, reporting on the second day of organized soccer at recess.
As predicted, things seem to be on the mend with the "two best friends" at school. After all I heard though, I'm not sure I want them to be...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It happens to everyone

But somehow it doesn't make it any easier. After school today, S was very frustrated by the smallest things. I asked if something happened at school and he started to cry. He said that his two "best friends" wouldn't let him play today. Broke my heart.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Isn't my kid cute?

Whenever I ask N to put his shoes by the door, he puts them by the doors to the patio. Doors we rarely use. Doors on the other end of the house from where he'll need them. It makes me smile every time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making a list

My netflix replacement service here has a pretty limited Hollywood selection and I haven't caught Bollywood fever, so I'm kind of on a TV series run. I'm currently watching the second season of 24. I didn't make it through the whole first season of Lost before Phil got online and read the plots of the next few seasons. I was convinced to just give it up before things got too crazy.

It's got me thinking about some old series that I was too young or too sheltered for, but were big enough to break into my pop culture consciousness. Like:

(Speaking of this age category I went to lunch with some friends yesterday where one of the major topics of conversation was health: our health, our husband's health. Depressing. I thought we'd have another 30 years before that kind of thing dominated)

So I'm making a list.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Haircut

This is nowhere near the first haircut, but since we can't seem to remember the camera for any of the true firsts, we can fake it. This is the same shop where all of N's 60cent haircuts have taken place, though I think the first one or two were lollipop aided. Click on the photos and check out the background to get a true feel for the place.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What do you do...

...when your office is having a '70s party and you live in India and neither you nor your wife have a clue where to purchase said costume? You have one tailored, of course.

Apparently we weren't the only ones, Phil's office had a tailor come in and take orders. Alas spouses were not invited to the party, so I only have the solo photos taken in our '70s kitchen.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

American Sports

I woke up this morning to Phil and KSL cheering on the Cougs (why are we always out of Dallas when the cool stuff happens there?). I kinda like the early morning football bit. Done, out of the way, and back to the Sunday routine by 9am.

And S had his first T-ball game of the season (and of life) yesterday (we are novice parents, and forgot to bring the camera). I haven't laughed so hard in quite some time. The leadoff batter headed straight for third base after he hit a dribbler that bounced off the T. There was another kid that, seeing second base occupied, cut across the infield from first to third. I think S's teammates must have been wondering why there was all that throwing warm-up before the game, since no one even attempted to throw the ball to a base, it was all taken care of by footrace. And S? He hit last, which in T-ball is cleanup, and so his contact with the T, rather than the ball, became a home run. We're already looking forward to next Saturday's game.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Most Amazing Drive Ever

My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and one of Phil's cousins were here visiting for almost two weeks, so after the usual Delhi sightseeing we took them north. Mostly because we've been really wanting to get there and they provided the excuse. We flew into Leh, which is on the dry side of the Himalayas and predominately Buddhist.

Then drove across the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, ending up in Srinagar, which is on the wet side of the mountains with a Muslim population. Turns out "dry side" is a bit of an understatement. This area was barren. And absolutely stunning.

The road was crazy. Windy. Bumpy. Dusty. Narrow. We crossed one pass that was over 13,000 feet high. It was a 430km (270 mile) drive that took two 7 hour days to cover.

Luckily you could always get out and throw some rocks.

And there were monasteries

and 25 foot Buddha statues carved into rock for pit stops.

There were checkpoints galore. The whole area is quite militarized, owing to border disputes with both Pakistan and China. At one, Phil's mom misplaced her passport, which resulted in our being stopped later by the military, their radioing back, finding it, and our waiting for another vehicle to bring it. The army guys were rewarded with photos, tales of her family in the US and red vines.

Eventually a truck arrived with the passport in hand.

We did the same hike in Sonamarg, Kashmir on the way into Srinagar, that we did with my parents. And Phil got his turn to go to the early morning floating vegetable market on Dal Lake (Which is a lot cooler than that description sounds).

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Loo

Been traveling the last week or so with some of Phil's family. It's official. When you have to use a nasty public facility, I prefer the Indian variety, in all of it's no touch glory. I bet you'd been wondering...
never fear, lots of travel pics on the way, I won't leave you with this one for long

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Fighting off the space ship

Indiana Jones with gun and whip (the kid hasn't even seen Indiana Jones)

Recently everything that S draws has guns in it. I naturally lean towards the no gun camp, and as a result, I've caught myself saying things like, "I don't want to hear about guns and fighting." Great. He just heard that there are things that I would rather he not communicate with me.

When I stop to think about it, instead of just following popular mommy opinion, how can he be expected to play so many of the things that are naturally interesting to him without some toy gun involvement. I mean police? With no gun? But you should see the looks at the playground when your little boy invents a game that involves shooting.

So here's to all you moms frozen in politically correct child-rearing limbo. Good luck and let me know if you figure it out.