Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sing Along

This is how Anderson harmonized with the family as we sang carols on the way to town yesterday:

Angels we have heard on high, I just wish that they would die. Hah, hah hah hah hah (etc. in place of the glorias.)

Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer (Stupid!) had a very shiny nose (like my family!). And if you ever saw it (So Annoying!) You would even say it glows (This song is stupid!)

The first Noel, the angels did say (you guys are so annoying!)

Jingle Bells, my family smells. Oh I hate this song!

And yet, this morning he was looking at Space Station Nathan's latest entry for the 12 days of Robo-Santa. And singing along. In tune.
When he got to the Six Geese-o-matics he sang, "These geese-o-matics are just the coolest!"

Thanks, Nate. The rest of us just aren't awesome enough to bring the Christmas spirit to some people.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Toddler Times

How to appreciate your two-year-old in the middle of a high-power tantrum: Dress them in stripey tights.

That's all it takes for me.
There is just something hilarious about the flailing blur of stripey legs that brings up all my childhood Suess-induced giddiness.

Rosalie did not appreciate my levity. Nor my photography. She took steps.

My doom approaching.

I recognized the danger, but was unable to remove myself due to paralyzing spasms of laughter mixed with trying to hold the camera steady.

I've heard this age called pre-adolescence. It's the mood swings. Just the other day Rosalie told me, after a bit of mom-initiated snuggling, "Mom, you love me soooo FAT!"

Yes, I do.

Friday, December 4, 2009

At Peace

I have finally ended my search for the perfect Christmas stockings!

(For those of you who live back east, these come from the Christmas Tree Shops and they are cheap. (Though they seem well made.) For those of us who live in the West, the only way I know how to get them is ebay. For more than cheap. But still way less than most wool knit stockings. )
Casey doesn't believe this will end my obsession. He thinks this is simply a yearly itch I get that will never go away, like my quest for the perfect swimsuit.

But look at these--they fit all my criteria: same size and shape, same color scheme, seven different patterns for ease of identification, and a nice chunky hand knit (or looks it) in wool! They do have floating strings inside, but like my mom's handmade stockings, they don't seem to get in the way. I plan to line them anyway to be sure they don't snag.

You'll have to admit they are a vast improvement from my former lineup.

Plus this year I attached all the stocking hangers to a board to make them more stable and keep them spaced. I may anchor it to the wall. You can see how the green present is dented on one side from being pulled down by some child who thought she/he could swing on the stocking. Luckily no one was concussed.

Having children with opinions means that I don't get to hang them in the order I would prefer--red cuff, green cuff, red cuff, green cuff, etc. But that's just my OCD kicking in and, luckily, I'm easily distracted. Maybe that's why it took so long for me to find the perfect collection.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Christmas Season!

(With our teeny-tiny amount of snow, Lissa made a teeny-tiny snowman.) (He looks quite festive, don't you think?)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Standing for Something

This summer Casey's sister Sarah got married.
The ceremony and reception were held in a beautiful park. There were flowers everywhere. The tables were decorated in red and gold and lavender. My family was dressed in the same. We all looked great.
There was a DJ who played pop songs and acted as the Master of Ceremonies. There was also an open bar. My younger children were fascinated by the tall plastic flutes being handed out filled with pale yellow bubbly. I made sure they got only the non-alcoholic version, which I also got for myself.
At one point the DJ called for the friends and family of Sarah and Sean to give toasts. We all raised our glasses after each person expressed their best wishes.
When the toasts were over I noticed my oldest daughter, Anika, looking a little down. I offered her a drink from my cup, noticing she didn't have one. She said no with a slow shake of her head and a look of such sadness--and I suddenly saw what she was thinking.
"Anika, this is non-alcoholic!"
"Really?! Oh!"

In the face of what she saw as her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even grandparents abandoning their cherished beliefs, Anika refused to partake. She stood for what she knew was right.

And there is no way that I can say all I feel about this, and about her. (I've embarrassed her enough as it is.) But as her mom, and as an admirer here's how I sum it up: This girl will do just fine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Captured by Russians

The newest obsession is Russian nesting dolls. Rosalie doesn't have one of her own, so she borrows Anderson's, Meri's, and Grandma's. All at the same time.
The endless loop of taking them all apart and then putting them all back together is mesmerizing. But just try carrying several pieced wooden dolls everywhere you go. They are prone to coming apart without warning, hitting the tile floor with a truly shattering sound. This has gone on for days and days.

Yesterday, they trapped her on the trampoline.
Meredith came to tell me that Rosalie was crying for me. When I got close enough I could see that she wasn't hurt. She just couldn't climb down while holding a doll in each arm.

We've made numerous trips through the field to put "Gurma's doll" back in its place. Rosalie goes and gets it again when I'm not looking. But by evening yesterday she was beginning to feel the weight. With two armfuls of wood she quavered, "I wanna go home."
"We are home, sweetheart."
"Unna go Gurma's house."
The sob building in her voice prompted me to take another look. She looked like I feel when it's past time to put the kids to bed. Luckily, Aunt "Bictoria" was just heading to Grandma's. Rosie let go of her burden with obvious relief.

Today, she has all three dolls again. And there's one in the mail with her name on it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Perseids Passing

So, are we the only ones who learn about special days only because the Google homepage has some new art up?

A week back we learned it was time for the Perseid meteor shower again! We loved it that year that we were driving to the Ranch after dark. One meteor actually came down so close I saw the last glowing ember burn out just a dozen feet above our car. And when we got to the Ranch we just plunked down on our backs on the grass with our cousins and goggled for an hour instead of unpacking.
This year we went out to the trampoline that is in the field between my parents' house and ours. The two youngest were in their beds but the rest of us snuggled up under a blanket and stared toward the northeastern sky. And talked. And wondered if we would ever see any--OOOH!
And argued about whether the shooting--Look at that one!--stars were mostly moving perpendicular or parallel to the milky way. And--Wow!--speculated that the little sharp prickles on our bums were not static, as Dad thought, but actually mosquitoes biting us through the mesh of the trampoline. And got sat on by the cat, who--I see one!--didn't want to be left out. And got cold. And--You keep seeing them when nobody else does. I think you're imagining it--colder. (And what's up with the super cold August nights this year?)
And didn't wan't to go--look!--back inside because it felt so good, all of us scrunched up under one blanket (and one cat), looking for lights in the sky.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Toddler prediction

On the way to church today our two-year-old Rosalie said, "Mommy? Daddy? Mommy? --- You're goin' down!!"
(Meredith clarified for us that Rosalie just meant the direction we were driving at the time. Still, we were on guard a little more than usual for the rest of the day.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to act suspiciously

We like to call 911 at our house. Just for fun.
Last year it was Rosalie, age one, who dialed for emergency help. Have you ever noticed that the 9 and the 1 are conveniently located near the edges of the phone where fat little thumbs can squeeze them repeatedly?
That's when we learned that they have to dispatch an officer whenever there is a call. Just in case someone is trying to get help and someone else, like a kidnapper, is stopping them.

This time it was our 10-year-old calling 911 just to shock her older sister.
"I thought the phone was off!" she protested, when her dad informed her the police had returned her call.
When the officer arrived, (Finally! Good thing it wasn't a real emergency.) she refused to face him and hid behind her hands and her dad until he left. Just like someone who'd been threatened by evil kidnappers who didn't want her to be identified. Kidnappers who hoped to reassure the police by letting them see a regular family with a daughter too embarrassed to show her face. A face which was probably as red as her hair. The only red hair in the whole "family". . .

Sunday, July 12, 2009


My college roommate (bff) Shelley Detton came to visit with her husband and kids the day after the 4th of July. Since they'd already seen the best Southern Utah had to offer in tractor parades and demolition derbies, we offered some different small western town activities--horse back riding (on borrowed horses) and inviting yourself over to your neighbor's pool.

Thanks to our cousins the Mckays, we can always offer a good time to our guests when they come.

At our own house we offered them activities such as pushing through a hundred yards of 4 ft. tall alfalfa to the trampoline, hiking through the back 40 to the riverbed to look for wildlife (mostly slimy water-life), and being checked for ticks on coming back home. Just kidding, we forgot to check for ticks. Shelley, if any of you start to feel feverish. . .
It was fun for my kids to get to know Shelley and Steve's kids. Their oldest, who is 7, is nearly as tall as our 10-year-old. And their 4-year-old is as tall as our 7-year-old. I'm not sure how much taller their 1-year-old is than our 2-year-old; she never held still long enough to compare them. All the kids played hard and slept little for two and a half days. It's somewhat difficult to fall or stay asleep when five kids try to share the space under the stairs.

Shelley is so talented. Not only did she bring me a present, (the blue and red bag) she also speaks couch! She walked into my living room, took one look at my two sulking sofas, plopped down one of her handmade decorator fabric bags and said, "This fabric goes with both sofas."
And lo and behold, it did. Just like that she bridged the thirty year generation gap between our old new couch and our new old couch (which we found out, from an upholstery tag inside it, was made in 1976.)

Take a look at the photo essay she did on her visit here. She makes everything look good. I wish she could stick around and be my personal decorator.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mystery Couch

Last week Casey and I went out on a date. We had dinner (with a coupon) and then we went to the D. I. to shop for cheap stuff that other people did not want anymore. I get a thrill when I find perfectly good stuff for very little money. I get the opposite of a thrill when I pay retail for anything.
And that is where I found the couch.
I was drawn to it instantly. It's whimsical stripes. It's petite size. I hoped it would replace the tortuous love seat in Casey's office. And even if it didn't, I wanted it. It was $30! And it looked like it had never been used.
Getting it home involved swearing that I would be back for it at opening time the next day, with a bigger car. I borrowed my Father-in-law's shell covered truck, assuming that the couch would stick out the back and need to be tarped to protect it from the three-week rainstorm we'd been having. To my satisfaction, it fit all the way in. I knew I loved this couch.

And here it is, in our living room. I told my kids to act natural for some candids. So they did.

I love this couch. It is so comfy. And fun! So, wherein lies the mystery?

1.--When I showed this couch to my Songer family, they thought it was great. Sis-in-law Emily openly coveted it. (She is furnishing her first house.) When I showed it to my Hale family, they basically said, "Meh." So, mystery no. 1 is--How could anyone not like this couch?

2.--Where did it come from? It seriously looks as if it has never been used. That is not the case with any thrift store furniture I have ever seen before. And it seems to be good quality; the stripes match up across all the cushions from top to bottom. And the feet are set back under the skirt so you can't stub your toes. I know the provenance of every other sofa/love seat we've ever owned so this makes the first time we've entered the world of "Who sat here before me?"

3.--Where will I put it? It doesn't fit in Casey's office. It is not on speaking terms with the other couch in the living room. I hate to relegate it to the basement because I will never see it. Sigh. Once again I am confronted with my non-flair for decorating. But at least I have a soft place to sit while I contemplate my options.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ahh! Fiders!!






Mo', mommy! Mo' 'cary fiders!!

Disclaimer: She asked to see scary spiders. She begged to see them.

A few days later she was talking as she ate breakfast.

She: " 'Cary gogs!"
Me: "Scary dogs?"
She: " "Cary cats!"
Me: "Yeah, scary cats."

The drama was building.

She: " 'Cary mions!"
Me: "Scary lions!"

I was feeling it. Then.....

She: " 'Cary wadybugs!"

Friday, June 5, 2009

The dok, dok house

There was this time when Meredith learned a scary story and enjoyed telling it to us. She probably took the strained, eyes-popped expressions we wore for terror. But really, we were just trying not to laugh. It goes like this:

"In the dok, dok woods there was a dok, dok house.
And in the dok, dok house there was a dok, dok kitchen.
And in the dok, dok kitchen there was a dok, dok stairs.
And up the dok, dok stairs there was a dok, dok hall.
And in the dok, dok hall there was a dok, dok room.
And in the dok, dok room there was a dok, dok closet.
And in the dok, dok closet there was a dok, dok box.
And in the dok, dok box there was a Boogeyman!

She had me at dok dok.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Rosalie is worried. The kids just went upstairs without her. ("Hey, guys!")
She turns to me and spouts a string of syllables out of which I only recognize "Emma"--the name of her visiting cousin.
"You can go, too," I say
She slips off my lap, turns and says, "Shee ya!" while waving.
Me: "Bye!"
She turns on the first step, waves and says, "Bye!"
She turns on the third step and waves.
On the fifth step she turns, waves, and says, "Yater!"
On the last step before the landing, she turns and says, "Soon!"
Just before she goes past the bend on the landing she leans around and waves one last time.
She knows I am watching her every step. She worries--I don't always handle separation well.

Happy Birthday, Rosalie! 2 Years Old! Don't grow up too fast, K?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Angels and Demons

by Lissa

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I think my entire character as a mother can be illustrated by how I react when my four-year-old tries to tell me her made-up knock-knock jokes. (It's not to my credit.) She likes to do this when I am driving. Here is today's example.

Meri: "Mom, knock-knock. . . Mom! Knock-Knock!"
Me: "Oh, knock, knock. I mean, "who's there?"
Meri: "Bird." (She always takes her inspiration from what she can see out the car windows.)
Me: "Bird who?"
Meri: "Bird . . .on the side of a mountain!!!"
Me: "Uh-huh. Riiiiight."

This is pretty mild compared to some versions I have heard. All of my children have gone through this stage--they know the form of the joke, they realize there is some kind of surprise involved with the punch line, they just don't get the humor yet. But what could be more surprising than something they just thought of themselves for the first time?! Especially when, as is usual, it involves some kind of bizarre random violence?
Like this--"Bird who?" "Bird. . .who gets his head pulled off by a giant dinosaur and EATEN!!"
Anderson was especially fond of this kind of ending.

I feel like a bad mom. Maybe I should just laugh. But I'm afraid if I do they will keep telling me this kind of joke. It might not sound so bad, but just imagine a half-hour car ride filled with endless iterations like this: "Knock-knock! . . .Dog with a bone in his head!!" "Knock-knock! . . .Tree that's pink and purple and blue!!!" "Knock-knock! . . . Car that's right in front of us!! And it's turning!! Like a burning!!!" (rhymes are funny, right?)
It's pure torture.

So I tried to tell her a few real knock-knock jokes that she could fall back on. I told her the one about Dwayne. Dwayne the tub, I'm dwowning? You know, 'cause Dwayne is a name, but it sounds like a person who can't say their r's? (She can't say her r's either. Maybe that's why she didn't get it.) It's one of only two knock-knock jokes that I can remember.

So here's how today's conversation ended:

Me: "Would you like me to tell you a real knock-knock joke?"
Meri: "Yes."
Me: "Knock-knock."
Meri "Who's there?"
Me: uh. . .I already told her Dwayne--she didn't get it. . . I can't think of one! "Um, I can't remember one right now. We better look some up when we get home, K?"
Meri: "That was funny, Mom!"

It's like my sister said, the divide between kid brains and grown-up brains is absolute. At least when it comes to knock-knock jokes.

Oh, and the only other knock-knock joke I can remember goes like this:
Me: "Say Knock-knock."
You: "Knock-knock."
Me: "Who's there?"

Monday, May 18, 2009

Organized Sports

Clarissa and her cousin Megan were recruited to be in a softball league for the next month or so. The coach's daughter was the only one in our area who signed up, so coach Dove called girls in her daughter's grade until she got enough together for a team. By this you may gather that there wasn't a whole lot of experience amongst the members of "The Valley Girls." We parents felt a little inexperienced ourselves:

--"Wasn't the game supposed to start at 6:30? What are they waiting for? An Umpire? Do they have to have one? I thought this was just for fun."

--"Look, they're hitting the ball! How did they learn to do that? They've only had three practices."

--"Hey! Lissa's pitching! Did you know she could pitch?" "No, I didn't know she could pitch. I've never seen her pitch before. "

--"Megan got someone out! Look at that! Wow!"

This is the first time we've had a child involved in an actual team sport. Jenny and Rex are first-timers, too. We are the farthest thing away from the parents you hear about who get rabid about their kid's sports. We just like the fact that our kids are outside, but that the season is short.
The Valley Girls lost their first game tonight, something to 3. (We only keep track of our own team's runs.) Lissa and Megan each got a run and we are so proud. And Lissa struck out two batters! (She may have walked more than that, but we don't keep track of the other teams runs.) And she tagged someone out.
It made for a great family night. Rex and Jenny brought pizza so that my kids could have second dinner. There was lots of shady grass for the other kids to wrestle on. We only lost track of our one-year-old two or three times. And afterwards, we ate ice cream at a park.

I think we could actually do this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Things Learned from the 1st Grade Operas

There are four classes in our school's First Grade and each one got to put on a 10-15 minute Opera. They wrote the words themselves. And the plots. It was very creative. And informative. Here are some things we learned:
  • Animals help plants survive the winter by moving the heavy snow off.
  • When bunnies and cheetah girls eat too many carrots, they get tummy aches.
  • Drinking Sprite will fix a tummy ache. ("Sprite has saved the day!") (Sing it!)
  • Butterflies just want everyone to get along.
  • If praying mantises steal the butterflies' eggs, the bees will threaten to sting them unless they return the eggs.
  • Butterflies, caterpillars, and aliens like to vacation in Hawaii.
  • Caterpillars can fly to Hawaii. With butterflies and aliens.
  • If, while you are vacationing in Hawaii, a tree is struck by lightning and falls and breaks your pool, dogs and horses can help you fix it.

Also, some bees (named Anderson) like to keep their hands in their pockets the whole time. While rolling their ankles in and out.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What makes a mother?

Basically, having children.

There you have it. Proof that I am a mother. That's all it takes, right?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Three Decades in the General Vicinity

My sister Victoria and her husband Michael just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the day they met. They have a nice story. (Read it here.)
It got us thinking. We don't remember the day we met. We barely remember the year we met. But we must have met in kindergarten, because here is our class photo.

It's like fate that we are close enough to circle our two heads, don't you think?
The boy under the yellow arrow is Johnny. He had such dreamy brown eyes. And he had a crush on me. He would sit next to me on the floor during reading time. I would scoot away and he would follow until Miss Pat told us to sit still. If she caught us while we were sitting together it was like the last petal of the daisy saying "He loves me." He moved away at the end of the year. Again, like fate.
It wasn't until much later that I developed my crush on Casey. Three whole years later. By then he had his own crush on my best friend, Jenny. I used to pass the notes back and forth between them. I wonder why I never checked the No boxes on those "Do you like me?" notes. Too innocent, I guess. I'd do it in a heartbeat now.

(Here we are again! We don't get any cuter than this.)
(And check out the Dukes of Hazard Tee top left.)

Here's how I fell in love with Casey: At age eight my phobia was BOREDOM. Specifically, Eternal Boredom, as in "If God knows everything and lives forever, than He must be BORED! I don't want to live forever!!!!" This is what I thought when I lay in my bed at night and couldn't sleep. Weird, I know. (My previous phobia was earthquakes. My subsequent phobia was MX missiles.) (Did anyone else have irrational phobias as a child?)
So one day at school they had all the second graders sitting cross legged on the floor and we must have been doing some kind of presentation for parents or something. The teachers would ask a question, then hand the microphone to a kid for the answer. I remember one girl told us how to spell "friend" by saying the mnemonic "FRIday is the END." I've spelled that word perfectly ever since.
Then, (the fateful moment) a teacher asked, "What is the only constant, sure thing?" She let some kids try to answer. We came up with Death and Taxes, etc. She shot us all down, then handed the mic to Casey.
And he said, "The only constant is change."
I was stunned. Seriously. My phobia vanished like a puff of steam. He was my hero.

It took me years to realize that the whole thing was staged. I mean, Casey was always a brain but his bent was Math/Sciences--never Philosophy.

When I did my "remember when" about this pivotal moment, Casey said, "That never happened." (!!!)---That is what he says about things he doesn't remember. Looking back over 30 years that happens a lot. ('nother mnemonic--"a lot" is a lot of words--I think my friend Kyle Frank told me that one. Yes, I used to spell it "alot.") It's our own personal law: The Conservation of Memory--if one of us remembers it, the other one probably doesn't. When we say "remember when..." it is not a rhetorical question. I think that's a good thing, in a way. That way, even though we share so many of the same experiences, we haven't run out of stories to tell each other.

We haven't really had 30 years "together" (yet), but you could say we were close the whole time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Long and Short

Ani was growing her hair for two reasons: to see if she could get her hair as long as her friend Lindsey's, and to donate it to Locks of Love (minimum of 10 inches-) She had reached both goals when spring arrived, and suddenly everyone wanted short hair.

Lissa didn't have 10 inches of hair to cut off, but I learned that they will take shorter lengths of hair and sell them to offset the costs of making their wigs for kids.

I hope red hair sells for a lot, because it breaks my heart to chop it.

I also cut Anderson's and Casey's hair.

"I want my freakin' awesome hair back, Mom. Why'd you have to cut it?"

And Handsome Man is still handsome.

Meredith cut her own hair not long ago--the same haircut she gave herself last year. (I give her a bob, then she cuts the sides off when I'm not looking.) I guess that's how she likes it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mission Impossible

Rosalie likes to take off vent covers and look down into the creepy depths.
Yesterday, she dropped in a 2 inch jingle bell. It rolled just like a ball about three feet down the gentle incline. We thought it was gone for good.

And that's when Gadget Man appeared!

Using only some tape, a vacuum attachment, a magnet from a Relief Society fridge decoration, two flashlights, a tape measure, and a webcam, he constructed a retrieval system the likes of which you have never seen before!

The remote image on the laptop screen showed every last detail of his triumph. The bell surrendered-- scooting toward the magnet before its position could be taken. It was Fully AWESOME!

The kids were enthralled. Gadget Man/Dad was the hero of the day.

It seems a waste to disassemble it--anyone swallow any pennies lately?

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Little O. C. D.arling

I love it when my kids can find something quiet and non-destructive to do to entertain themselves. Though sometimes I do wonder if this kind of repetitive behavior is normal. You should see what she does with blocks.
We had to get rid of all the really small elastics (the half-inchers) after I caught her with dark-purple hands a few times.

She had already moved all the elastics onto one hand before she started the transfer to the other. I wanted to see how long it would take her--in real time, five minutes. The soundtrack is "Bagdad" played by Lissa.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Give us a (spring) break!

March has come and March has gone.
But still the snow is on the lawn.
The birds are here, they sing their song.
But something still is very wrong.

The bikes are out, they lie about.
The kids are in, they sit and pout.
The snowpants have to be got out--again!
Poor Mom! Just hear her shout.

April's here, but still we fear
That her intentions are not clear.
No buds are open on the trees.
No flowers wait to greet the bees.
We're begging! We're down on our knees!
Oh, Springtime! Come to our house, Please!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Major Bed Head

A few mornings ago I suggested to Anderson, "You might want to brush your hair today."

He took a look in the mirror and said, "No way! It's freakin' AWESOME!"

The Plan of Salvation

This is what we did for family night last week. It's always fun to draw on the wall.
For more information, go here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Got me some soul

In India, the saying goes, "A woman without jewelry is like a body without a soul."

The pearl and emerald necklace and blue blouse are just some of the pretty-pretties Casey brought me from India. I also got two other blouses, two silk scarves, one Kashmiri scarf/shawl, and a sequined maroon skirt.

I love them. But mostly I'm just glad to have him back.

Friday, March 27, 2009

India Blog - Day 11 (last day)

We didn't really have much we wanted to see this day and were planning to spend most of it shopping for stuff to take home to our families. We ate breakfast and Randy and I checked out of our room. Gail and Kurt kept their room for late checkout, so Randy and I moved 0ur stuff into their room.

The driver took us first to the India Gate, which is like the tomb of the unknown soldier. There is an "eternal" flame there and flags for the different branches of the Indian armed services, and the monument is dedicated to the Indian soldiers who fell during WWI.

After that we tried to get the driver to take us to some open-air shopping to get some deals, but he didn't understand and took us to another high-priced kickback store. We came out immediately and finally got him to understand where we wanted to go and he took us to a place with lots of shops with decent prices and open-air market. I bought a bunch of glass bracelets, some t-shirts, a drum, and a chess set. I was starting to get the hang of the whole haggling thing, but it really starts to give you a headache after a while and is a lot of work. I was at the point where it was almost worth it just to pay more to avoid the work of haggling. But I did get some good deals.

After shopping there, we asked the driver to take us to Humayun's tomb. He took us to some shopping center instead where we paid 15 rupees (30 cents) to get in to the street. I guess they just do that to keep the riff-raff out? All the shops there were pretty much the same, but I did get a cute shirt for Rosalie.

After shopping, we finally got the driver to take us to Humayun's tomb. We went to one tomb first that we thought was it, before we got to the real one.

There are ancient tombs and ruins everywhere in India. At this point I think we were getting a little burned out and were ready to be done with ancient buildings. Especially since it was pretty hot.

The driver took us to one final place for shopping which was a mall. This mall was totally westernized with stores like in a western mall selling jewelry, high-fashion clothes, etc. The prices were western too, with everything as much or more than in the states. We didn't stick around very long. They did have a McDonalds there as well.

If you look close at the menu, you can see they have no beef or beef products.

We had the driver take us back to the hotel, and Randy and I went shopping in the streets around the hotel. There wasn't really anything we wanted to buy there. I wanted to get some candy for the kids, but couldn't find anything that wasn't either really expensive or looked like it might make them sick. We ate fries and a shake (too timid to try the veg burgers) at McDonalds. The guy looked at Randy funny when he asked for a spoon. We soon realized why, as the shake was like slightly lumpy chocolate milk. No spoon necessary. The fries were pretty much the same as in the states.

We went to the shops downstairs and spent all the rest of our rupees, except for the tips for the driver and sundry porters etc. Then Randy and I showered and called home one last time and then stuffed everything in the suitcases. Luckily I had a fair amount of space on the trip there so everything fit in the one suitecase.

The driver drove us to the airport and after only getting turned around once, we made it there. After we tipped him and went into the airport, Randy realized he had handed the driver his wad of US cash ($90 worth) instead of the 400 rupees ($8 worth) he had meant to hand him. Luckily he was able to get the driver on the cell phone and get him to come back and make a switch. Kurt and I both thought the driver would be long gone with the cash, but I guess he was worried about the feedback through our company.

Anyway, there isn't much more to tell about the India trip. The trip home started at 1:00 AM in India on Tuesday and arrived in SLC at 7:30 that same day, including a 3 hour layover in Paris and a 4 hour layover in NYC. It was a seriously long day. I slept off and on through the flight to Paris and to NYC. I had a hamburger in NYC and went with Edith to Costa Vida in SLC. One of those two places caused me to wake up that night and puke my guts out. Ironic, isn't it, that after 12 days of being careful and avoiding sickness in India, I get tagged by food poisoning the minute I get back in the States?

I gave Edith a bunch of stuff I bought for her in India the night I got home, and presented the kids with all their loot the next morning. They were quite excited.

I don't think Edith's presents come anywhere close to making up for ditching her with 5 kids for 12 days, but I guess it's a start.