Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 14, 2014

Holy schnikes! I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since I've officially updated the blog!  Still not much has happened, even though we're winding down o the trip, it doesn't feel like we've been here for 5 weeks. Only 11 days left in Vizag, then on to Mumbai for a short visit, Paris for a week and home...

Time for something new..."Good News. Bad News". I figure this is the easiest way to give you a three week lowdown...

Good News: The weather has cooled off drastically. It's actually quite comfortable. SUCH good news...
Bad News: Because the weather has cooled off so much, so have the water pipes. What I thought was "hot" water when we came was actually heated water pipes. No heat = no hot water = cold showers. :(

Good News: Church was FULL yesterday! Every seat was about taken.
Bad News: I had to speak in church. The best part was sacrament is always in English. All the talks, everything. However because there was extra time, one of the leaders decided to translate my talk. Not sure if it was because I was not being understood or if it was such an amazing talk he wanted to make sure everything was understood...I don't think it was the latter.

Good news: Everyone is alive
Bad news: Barely. The kids (and us) have literally been together the entire time. No breaks. No friends houses. Just here. Together. Is this a glimpse of what eternity is going to be like?

Good News: We're up to date on our movie watching (well, for the English movies that come to Vizag). We've seen 'How to Train your Dragon 2', 'Edge of Tomorrow', 'Transformers' and 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'.
Bad News: Watching 'Transformers' was painful. Really, really painful. When people clap and cheer (and whistle...thank you, Ryan Riley) EVERY TIME there is a fight scene or there is a transformer on the screen, it gets old. Fast. Not to mention the constant cell phone talking and ringing and TEXTING during the show. Regardless, it's gotten us out of the house!

Good News: I've had no problems with the pregnancy.
Bad News: I'm getting so uncomfortable fast. I haven't forgotten how much I don't enjoy being pregnant, it's just being reconfirmed. Uncomfortable nights, sciatic pain and swollen constantly, isn't my idea of fun. (Please just let me vent, its all I've got to vent about).
BUT other good news is that Dallan LOVES to feel the baby move and gets so giddy every time he gets to feel her. He's even decided he wants to learn how to braid so he practices on my hair every night. I love it.

Good News: We were able to go to a couple of friends houses for dinner this last week. It's so enjoyable to go to their home and be a part of everything here.
Bad News: There is none. The kids ate well, and we ALL enjoyed the food.

Good News: Our apartment is still bug free. We've loved the extra space in this location and the location itself couldn't be better for where we like to go. Grocery store and restaurants are so close!
Bad News: The downfall of the great location is that we're on a super busy street. With busy streets comes traffic. Luckily we've only seen 3 motorcycle accidents from our balcony window, both of which everyone was able to walk away, so that's good news.

Good News: We've only lost a video camera and a ukalele since we've been here.
Bad News: We've lost both a video camera and a ukalele since we've been here. Have no idea what happened to the video camera, and Brayden left the ukalele in the back of a rickshaw.

Good News: I'm allowing my kids more independence.
Bad News: After letting them ride a rickshaw to Ryan's office alone (just the 4 boys) they want to go EVERYWHERE in a rickshaw now.
Good News: They survived and only had to pay 50 rupees.

Good News: Ryan is still very comfortable driving anywhere we need to go. He doesn't love driving at night because everyone uses their high beams.
Bad News: Ryan is so comfortable driving around town I think he drives to aggressive. He's so comfortable in fact, that he drove on the wrong side of the street (everyone does it and just because he wanted to) so he didn't have to go all the way around. ALL THE WAY AROUND! I wasn't super happy with him, but we did survive. (And we were probably driving a whole 10 mph...but I still didn't like it!)

Well, 11 days left, but we're not counting down. We've enjoyed our time here and don't really want to leave so soon. Except that I'm almost out of brown sugar and chocolate chips!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh, my gosh! What a weekend! And here I thought this being my third time in India would be completely  uneventful...boy, was I wrong!

Saturday, June 21

Not a whole lot happened today. Ryan and I knew we would be inviting the BYU students over for dinner so we went grocery shopping. Other than the most amazing thing, nothing really big happened...but look what we found! Boneless, skinless chicken breasts! As excited as were, we know not to get our hopes up because it might not ever be there again. Besides, if it's so easy to buy chicken now, there won't be any more fun chicken stories!

Sunday, June 22

Church. Oh, church. Before I get into that I'm going to go a little out of order, starting with dinner.  We did end up have 10 students over for dinner and Ryan made some amazing homemade salsa, (we found some tortilla chips at the grocery store), chicken tacos in homemade flour tortillas, Spanish rice and brownie sundaes for dessert. There was a ton of food consumed and it was worth every minute of making it! We so enjoy entertaining and it's fun to be able to cook comfort food in this little corner of the world. Unfortunately, every time we've had these students over for dessert or dinner, I've been in the kitchen and forget to take time. I promise!

Ok, now for the fun of today. So, since I'm pregnant (very obviously pregnant) the Relief Society sisters decided to give me a baby shower at church. Oh! My! Gosh! This is not like ANY other baby shower I've EVER had!

So we go to church and the Relief Society president is making sure I am going to attend this week (last week I ended up not feeling well and going home). "Yes, yes", I confirmed over and over again. So, we get to Relief Society, they have a lesson and with about 10 minutes left of church all hell breaks loose...literally!

First, they call me up to the front of the room. "Sit, sister." I sit. "Stand, sister." I stand. They move the chair in a different position, moving tables around, by this time everyone is out of their seats, standing on chairs, taking pictures (thank you BYU students!). Cell phone cameras everywhere. I just sat there. One gal grabs a black scarf and puts it around my belly. "NO black, no black". She removes it and grabs the closest scarf she sees, on one of the BYU students and wraps it around my belly. We were both confused and I was a little overwhelmed, to say the least. By now I've got some of the older sisters in the ward, coming up to me. "Stand, sister." I stand. An older woman touches my belly with her finger and says a prayer. She tells me to sit, I comply. I have two other women on either side of me holding my hands, "stand, sister", I stand". They also are blessing me (or the baby, not sure who), "sit, sister". They then proceed to put bracelets on me. As I'm sitting in the chair they are pulling my hair back, trying to find a rubber band to keep it back in, decorating my hair with flowers. Serious chaos. By this time some of the primary children have come in, 2 of my own kids as well. I continue to get well wishes as they throw multicolored Styrofoam  balls at me, half of them going down my shirt. Then the best part...they break out the cake! Oh how I love random people feeding me little pieces of cake! Dabbing it on my cheeks and chin. All I could do was just sit and smile for the camera. I've learned in the past to just sit back and not fight their tradition.

As crazy as it was, as chaotic as it was and as fast as it all happened, the gestures of these sisters on the other side of the world wanting to celebrate in the joy of having a baby was pretty amazing. I feel like I have come to know these dear, sweet ladies over the past three summers and how excited they were to be able to give me this can anyone be upset about that?

Without further shower pictures...India style...

                                                        Receiving blessings

                                                 More blessings with bracelets..

      Don't even know what's happening...just smiling because I know my picture is being taken...

                                                            Putting my hair back...

                                                          Adding the roses...

                                                            Styling the hair...

                                                           Finished hair...

                                              Not quite done styling the hair...

                                           Posing...(Mounikas mom is in the orange)

                                                Just sitting here in all the chaos..

                                                       Time for cake! Mmmmm

                                                       Cutting the cake...

                                                      Feeding me cake...

                                                          More blessings...

                                                   And yet more blessings....

                                                                   The cake...

                (Thank you Dallan for the pictures) Just trying not to look dumb or embarrassed, etc..

                                                 More blurry Dallan pictures

                                                      More cake feedings...

                                    And still more cake feedings...and dabbings...

                                   Posing for pics (the relief society president is in blue)

                                         Mounika and her younger sister, Choty....oh, and Davis

Yeah, so that was fun! Nothing like being the center of attention for someone that hates being the center of attention. But, the good news is that's it's over...

I'm not sure anything here could top this...I'm afraid it's all downhill from here. Riiiggghhhttt.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ugh with the internet and my laptop! Technology is great…when it works…

This trip to India is completely different than the one we took in 2012.  For the most part, the boys to the office with Ryan, I stay in the apartment with my feet up in the morning, let the maids in to clean the floors and at lunch the boys get Dominos delivered to them and Ryan and I go out to lunch with some friends in the office. We haven’t gotten out into town much for several reasons. 1) It’s hot. Only crazy people go out in this kind of heat. 2) We really saw all of Vizag last time we were here. The only real thing that has changed is the amount of cars on the road and new buildings have gone up. And 3) being pregnant is the best excuse not to have to do anything!

What I have done the past week since arriving in Vizag…gone through 8 ½ dozen eggs, 4 pounds of butter, 3 kilos of sugar and 5 kilos of flour. Other than the food we’ve eaten for meals, I’ve made 2 batches of banana bread, 3 batches of brownies, 3 batches of chocolate chip cookies and a batch of peanut butter cookies. Good thing I enjoy baking and the people at the office enjoy eating! But I definitely need to find something new to make…only problem is that I’m limited to the cooking ingredients I have.

Tuesday, June 17th

Tuesday morning started off with way too much excitement. I decided it was going to be laundry day. I HATE LAUNDRY DAY! If doing laundry at home isn’t bad enough, doing laundry here, although could be way worse, sucks. The washer is still the same machine from the other apartment, it still doesn’t drain all the way, so each load I do I still have to wring out each item of clothing and hang it over a wrought iron fence with no clips. I’ve already done a load where we lost a couple of shirts to the wind, falling to the ground floor and a load where it decided to rain in the afternoon. Hence, I HATE LAUNDRY DAY!  Anyway, Tuesday morning I woke up and decided I needed to do laundry again. The washing machine is on a little balcony with a drain in the corner, so when the water drains, it drains towards the hole…ideally. So, like everything else around here the water tube in “jimmy-rigged” into the spicket, and right in the middle of washing, it totally disconnects and water is spewing everywhere…how did we know it broke and the washing machine was spewing water everywhere? Oh, it was pouring in underneath the door and filling up the dining area. The water was not draining fast enough in that little drain! Good thing for tile floors and squeegees!

The downside to all of this is that as much as I hate laundry day, dirty clothes (especially underwear) are way worse…I hope the machine gets fixed quickly so I can have some clean undies. (The kids don’t care…gross!) I guess there is always hand washing…sorry, I draw the line somewhere…

Wednesday, June 18

Ryan decided the boys needed to stay at the apartment in the morning because he was having some meetings at the office. Good thing…the power in the building was out all day. No a/c, no internet, nothing! So, instead they stayed here and we walked to the grocery store to pick up some more baking supplies.

We went out to dinner last night to KFC because I thought that’s what the baby wanted. I was wrong. The baby really doesn’t want anything but a cheeseburger still. Spicy chicken (that’s all they have) was just not doing it. We did get a scoop of Baskin Robbins ice cream afterwards, and like every other time we’ve had Baskin Robbins, I’ve gotten the mint chip, and like every other time, I’ve regretted it. I just want to taste something that I’m used to, but I know from previous experiences, I won’t. The local food isn’t bad, there’s plenty that tastes good, but sometimes I just crave the familiar.

Thursday, June 19th

Good news! My washing machine is fixed! Bad news! My washing machine is fixed, now I have to do laundry.

There’s nothing much that’s new to take pictures of, but I guess I better start taking some of at least the kids. It seems weird to take the same pictures of the same things, but I have to remember everyone is a couple years older this trip. Is it just us that see the same thing over and over? Does anyone else want to see the same pictures of India? People need to let me know!

We’ve been gone 2 full weeks. Only 5 more weeks here, then a week in Paris. The kids are super excited to go spend time in Paris, even Brayden. I think the opportunity has finally settled in and he’s realized it’s a great opportunity for a 15 year old. I’m excited but all I can think about is how pregnant I’ll be. I’m already getting left in everyone’s dust when we walk somewhere, and my “travel swelling” never subsided, so I guess that’s where I’m at. Yay. 

Ryan's favorite restaurant, 'Sea Inn'. Literally a grass hut. They only serve lunch and Ryan only gets the prawn biryani .

                    Scones and smoothies for dinner one night. Chick-Fil-A sounded so much better!

             KFC for dinner. This is the only dipping sauce they have...tangy ketchup! Mmmm

                 Bet you didn't know that every popcorn has its own you know!

                                           So many stories for each popcorn to tell!

                                                         All day the office

I know this is a blurry picture, but there's a story behind it. Conor doesn't eat much...almost nothing unless it has to do with carbs and dairy (his favorite thing here is buttered naan. When you order food at restaurants here, they always give you a plate of sliced red onions and limes. You're supposed to squeeze the lime juice on the onion and eat it. It cuts down on the spice...I guess. Never done it myself. Well, guess what Conor likes? Yep, sliced onions with lime juice. Who would've thought?

         ...and finally, my favorite part of India (well, one of them). When they don't have exact change                   at the grocery store...they give you a piece of candy for each rupee they short you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunday, June 15…Happy Father’s Day!

First wanted to wish a Happy Father’s Day to my amazing husband and father of my children. He’s a great guy and willing to do whatever it takes!

                                      "Happy Father's Day from your family of 'nuts'"!

Went to church today and although it was fun to see some familiar faces, the LDS church is growing so fast here, a lot of the members we know meet at a different time than the time we attend. It’s good, but sad at the same time.  They are in production of building an actual chapel with 2 floors, where they will be able to have 2 wards/branches meet simultaneously.

Ryan had to take me home a little early from chuch. Between the heat, not feeling well, not eating and the traveling done lately, my body was done. All it wanted was to cool off in the apartment underneath the ac and take a long nap. As soon as Ryan dropped me off at home, I got into comfy clothes and headed for the bed. About 10 minutes later the current went out…which means no ac. I did fall asleep, but was sweating the entire time, only for the ac to turn back on literally 2 minutes before he and the boys came back. Oh, well, it was at least quiet and I got a nap in. 

Every year we’ve been here in Vizag, we’ve met some BYU students, this year is no different, except I think there are more than in the past. But we’ve never really talked to them outside of church. This year was a little different as we invited them over for desserts on Monday night. The experiences we have and what they are having are completely different. Their apartment has no ac, our does. They have a cook that makes them curry and rice 3 times a day for meals, we eat food like tacos, smoothies, oatmeal, etc. So…they’ll be over to have some comfort desserts tomorrow.

For father’s day dinner there was no fancy sushi eating like last year in Mumbai, (and for those keeping track, yes this was Ryan’s 3rd Father’s Day in a row in India…but at least he got to spend it with his family). Instead, we had TACOS! Yep, homemade flour tortillas, freeze dried taco meat and freeze dried cheese! You may think “ew” to the freeze dried stuff, but I know if my kids eat it, then it’s just fine! Not to mention it’s the closest thing to beef we’ll be eating here. Overall, Father’s Day turned out good, Ryan and I both got a nap and he ate a homemade meal AND brownies in India…what else is there?

                                                      Father's Day tacos

                                      World's Best Dad eating homemade brownies!

                     The kids were dying for Ryan to wake up from his nap so they could partake!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Because we have 9 BYU students coming over for desserts, I thought I better start early on the cooking aspect. It’s not like I can have 3 different things going at once here, I have to prep, bake, clean, repeat. I’m actually lucky I have measuring spoons and cups this year, two years ago it was all guess work (that was fun). So baking isn’t that big of a deal, it’s just more time consuming. Then to take into consideration the power outages, the size of my toaster oven and hand washing dishes after using them and having to boil water, you can imagine making a batch of cookies needs hours, not just an hour!

So away we went, (Dallan stayed home and helped me), and by the time everyone was here, we had a batch of chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, brownies and Ryan made chocolate milkshakes in our fancy ‘Blendtec’ (that almost got confiscated in both Amsterdam and Mumbai). Earlier that day I also tried my hand at making potato salad (that turned out great if I do say so myself) and Dallan and I made a fresh banana, mango and pineapple smoothie for lunch. Really, are we in India or at home? Bringing the ingredients we did sure has made things easy for us to eat here this time. Can’t complain a bit!

As far as my cold, allergies or whatever it is I had, I’m mostly over it, just a little bit of a drippy nose. Baby is still doing fine, I’m just guessing by the routine nightly bathroom visits and the constant dancing going on inside.

Dallan enjoying a smoothie for lunch! Mmm, might just be the best one I've ever made!

                                                            Potato Salad...

                                              Cookies for dessert on Monday night.


I feel like this is turning into a food blog...since I'm writing this post on Tuesday, I might as well show you what was for breakfast this morning...blueberry pancakes!

                       Again with the freeze dried food...but regardless, they were awesome!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Awkward moment #520.

Friday, June 13.

We have a maid. Again. This time I was told she would be coming (unlike 2 years ago when some random lady showed up at my door, not speaking any English, and I turned her away…multiple times. Yes, I’m a genius).  She comes, every day, with I’m guessing her son, who is probably about 10 or 11. Neither of them speak any English. If they did, they wouldn’t be doing this job.  Yesterday when the little boy came over he found Davis’ Rubik’s Cube on the bed. He picked it up and smiled at me and I gave him a “go ahead” smile. He continued to play with it for the duration of the maid cleaning the apartment. (By the way, Davis was stoked when he solved one side of the cube, not the whole thing, but one side.) So they show up again today, this time there are two women. The new one makes it a point to look at me so I see her, but just stands there. (We’ve noticed in the past people that speak English will make it a point to speak to you so they can practice their English, but the standing and staring thing never gets comfortable.) I say “hello”, she says “Namaste”, and just stands there. Just. Stands. There. Waiting. For what? If she’s not going to break out in English and I’m certainly not going to break out in Telegu, what else is there? Yeah, I don’t know either. So weird and awkward. Every. Time. (Is that enough emphasis, because if it isn’t I’m happy to italicize all those words as well!)  But even with that awkwardness, it doesn’t beat out someone watching me in the shower..

I’m feeling pretty guilty today, as Ryan has all 4 boys at the office again. I understand the reason they want to go, but I feel like this is more of a vacation for me than it is a work trip for Ryan. The kids go because with their computers and the internet accessibility, and the ping pong table, there’s just more for them to do there. It’s still air conditioned, and let’s face it, they’re a novelty. Dallan spent all day yesterday making those silly loom band bracelets and then proceeded to pass them out to a select few before we left. He will eventually make them for everyone at the office (and probably their kids) and everyone at church (and probably their families) but honestly, that’s the reason I bought the stuff for him to be able to make it with. Still feeling guilty.

 I do have one task today and that is to walk down to the store I love, Karachiwala and get those few ingredients I know I need that they have. It’s a task because of the heat, and like most places, there’s no posted “open” sign. So I have to plan it late enough that they’ll be open, but not so late that I’m going to die from the heat. Oh, wait, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, it’s HOT!

Here’s a good pregnancy moment…in packing for the trip I have to make sure I have plenty of certain items that I cannot find here, my favorite toothpaste, deodorant, etc. So with 3 boys/men using deodorant, I made sure I brought enough for them…however, I did forget my own. Oops. I also packed two conditioners instead of a shampoo and conditioner. Oops again.  Funny thing though, when we went to the store last night I thought I’d try to see if they had any there, and they did. One kind, one brand, one choice. Awesome! (And it’s a “roll-on” to boot!)

We also met up with our good friend Mounika today. She and her sister, Choty were very excited to see the kids again. We saw them last year, and although I look different now with my pregnant belly, the boys have grown a ton in a two year span. She even told Brayden she was afraid to stand next to him…haha.

Saturday, June 14

We still haven’t quite gotten a regular schedule. Waking up at 5:00 am seems to be the standard these days. Partly because of the time change and partly because that’s about the time the first bus comes wailing down the road blaring its horn. That sound is bound to raise the dead! So, by 7:30-8:00 pm, we’re all toast. The biggest downside to that is most restaurants don’t re-open up until 7:00 because that’s when dinner is typically eaten. Unless we can figure out a siesta sometime during the day, this just might be our “normal”. But the good news is that the temperature was much more manageable today! 

Last year when Ryan came out to India, he developed horrible allergies. I don’t know if developed is the right word, but typically he doesn’t have allergies at home, so it’s weird that he gets such a reaction here. Well, this year it’s my turn. I’m not sure if it’s because my immune system is out a whack being pregnant or what, but this sucks! If I had to start any business in India I'd sell Kleenex with lotion and aloe. The tissues here are horrible if you have to wipe your nose more than once a year.

We took the kids to see ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ today. I LOVE going to a movie with a family of 6 and not feeling like you’re spending a fortune. 1800 rupees for the fam to get in AND have popcorn and soda…can’t beat that! (That’s roughly $30). I’m pretty sure, though, whatever money we “save” here will be spent the last week of trip in Paris.

So, remember the little boy that comes and hangs out with his mom when she cleans floors? He’s Davis’ best friend now. We didn't do a whole lot today, and he was here most of the day. Davis was teaching him how to solve the Rubik’s cube, how to skateboard, playing the guitar and whatever else they did. In return Davis got a bike ride. He thought that was pretty fun! (And yes, they are going the wrong way in traffic...)

The kids are excited for tomorrow, they get to go to church to see their friends. Dallan told me today that then things will be much more fun!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

 We were finally able to leave Mumbai, but as always in India there’s a story to go alone with it. If you’ve ever flown internationally, you understand that every country has their own way of doing security checks. Whatever you may have experienced, I guarantee it is nowhere near the extent of the way it is in India.

First of all, international flights allow you 50lbs of checked luggage (or one bag) per passenger. That gave us roughly 300 lbs of luggage to check. Along with that you can have a carry on and a personal item. We each had a backpack or equivalent, and then 4 additional carry on items, one of which was a guitar in a case. So, yeah, we brought a ton of luggage. In all of that we brought roughly 150lbs of food, which is equal but not limited to freeze dried meats, cheeses and fruits, snacks, candy, spices, etc., etc. Anyway, checking in at the Mumbai airport, flying domestic is a whole other set of requirements. Each passenger gets a total of 15kg to check and 8kg to carry on. Oops! To our defense, when we traveled in 2012, with almost the exact amount of luggage, there were no requirements, or at least they were not enforced. I know we did not pay any luggage charge coming or going. Well, now those rules are enforced. 15kg equals about 33 lbs. So, we were just a few kgs over…like 10,500 rupees over (or $200). That was just with the checked luggage. We acted like we had no idea about the carry on weight limit and nobody said anything, so, we just took those with us.

Now to get through security…
Before you even get to security everyone has to put a tag on each bag they want checked. Kind of like a name tag you’d get in the states to identify the owner of the bag if it gets lost. The tags even have a spot for name, address, phone number and what not. So you stand in separate lines, women on one side, men through another and they scan your bags. I’m guessing they’re looking for the same things as they would anywhere…liquids, sharp objects, bombs, etc. After you let your bag out of your sight you proceed to walk through a metal detector.  After the metal detector you stand on a platform and they use a wand to make sure you have no metals on you that might not have been detected by the metal detector…see where this is going. After you are free and clear from that area, your boarding pass is stamped, twice. You may then proceed to collect your bags, but you must make sure each of the tags you put on gets a stamp as well. (We learned two years ago, that even if your bag gets through the security checkpoint you cannot board the plane without a stamped tag. Ugh.)
You may now proceed to your gate. We did. We waited and waited, checked the monitors, waited some more and then waited in the boarding area until it was time to board. As soon as they called out they were ready we were first in line. (Remember all that extra luggage we had, yeah, we wanted a spot for it.)

 “Boarding flight AI467!”

 What? “What about flight AI451?”

“Next gate over…”

Holy crap! (I think I might have dropped a swear word, in which Dallan proceeded to hear, and then Brayden made sure he knew that he heard it.) What if they’ve already boarded?  I never heard any announcement, not in English that I understand anyway. As we rushed over to the “other gate” my heart sunk and I thought for sure we’d be in Mumbai for several more days. When we got to the other counter, the ticket lady says to us, “yes, there was an announcement in English. I heard it 30 minutes ago.” OK, whatever, it’s just not the English I understand. At least the plane hadn’t left yet, but wouldn’t that be the icing on the cake of this whole trip!

Finally it’s time to board and as our tickets are scanned, every bag is checked to make sure it’s got a stamp. Even through all that chaos and crazy, the best part has to be when security checks your boarding pass, when DEBOARDING the plane at your destination. What is that about?
It’s now Thursday morning and regardless of the crazy it took us to get here, we’re here. And as always, we’re treated way to good. We’re in a different apartment this year, it’s more central to the stores I like to go to, but the biggest bonus is that it’s brand new! The kitchen is a great size, super clean and even has hot and cold running water. Not hot water like you’d think, but hot enough to take more than a lukewarm shower.

The downside, it’s brand new, so there’s nothing for storage, shelving, or a place to put anything. I’m sure that will change soon, but for now, it’s super clean (I’m sure that will change soon as well)!
We did have a cockroach debacle this morning. But the cockroaches were not from this place. All the furniture that is in this apartment was brought over from the other apartment, which is perfectly fine. One of the things we bought 2 years ago was a carom board. If you’ve never heard of carom it’s a game that sits on the ground (well ours does, anyway), and you have these chip things and you try to knock your opponents chips to certain areas…or something like that. Anyway, that was brought over with the rest of the stuff. When the boys took it out of the box, 6 huge cockroaches ran everywhere. Of course they freaked out because evidently I’m expecting my 5th girl, but eventually they were all caught, killed and thrown away…not before we got pictures, though! J

                                                        6  DEAD Cockroaches!

                                       Awesome big kitchen with a ton of food we brought
                                       from home  *Note the #10 cans under the shelf.*

                                     Nice stainless steel sink...with hot and cold water! :)

                        Standing in the kitchen, looking out...Can you spot the refrigerator?

                              Big, spacious living room and Conor practicing the guitar!

                                           Nice big bedroom, with shiny clean floors!

We’re settling in nicely, however the biggest bummer is no internet at the apartment. I don’t know if they’ll put it in or not, but that’s the only thing that can make this place better.

I’m starting to feel VERY pregnant, even though I’m only 21 weeks along. I can feel my body needing extra time to get in order when I stand up, and I’m pretty sure I've already started waddling. Great. If you think walking the streets of Vizag being white, with four kids doesn't cause enough attention, walking through Vizag with four kids and a pregnant women is definitely cause for it!

And the heat this year. It wasn't this hot the last two years, not even close! (I even confirmed it with the locals that it's too hot for this time of year...I'm not just being a whanny-pants.) I’m seriously happy sitting in my a/c room with my feet up and sending Ryan to the office with all the boys. I’ll stay home and cook, be the barefoot and pregnant wife and be happy doing it. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This is probably going to be the longest blog post in my life, but if you aren't familiar with the events leading up to our India trip it's worth a read. If you know some aspects, but not others, I've separated it into 3 areas. 'Finding out we're going', 'The visa debacle', and 'Getting where we're supposed to be'. If you happen to be so lucky and know everything, or don't care, pictures are at the bottom!


I don't even know where to start in talking about this India trip. For as smooth sailing as the one we had two years ago was, this one has been the complete opposite. It all started back in March when we finally decided/found out that in fact, yes, we would be headed to India again as a family. The initial reaction of everyone was different, but Brayden, being the oldest gave us the most grief. You have to realize, at 15, friends, and doing nothing but sleeping in and hanging out with them is of the ultimate importance. I, on the other hand, realized, that taking him with us alleviated me of my "taxi mom" duties and also arguments about why he can't sleep in until noon every day and stay up all hours of the night.

Conor, at age 13 decided he'd follow suit with Brayden and be grumpy, but never has brought up his lack of excitement on his own. Instead, he would add little comments when we were talking about the trip, trying to sound uninterested or bored. I think he's actually excited to be here, but that wouldn't be "cool" to want to be gone from home for 8 weeks. I think secretly he's actually excited.

Davis and Dallan had similar reactions, although Dallan (now age 8) did express his concerns about being pinched on the cheeks. That was his least favorite memory from two years ago. Davis (now age 11), is just plain excited to be traveling...he must be my kid!

Initially, I was so excited to return to visit. Visiting here for the past two summers, you can imagine how many good friends we've met and gotten to know, and to be able to continue those friendships is so fun and important! We booked our flights on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014. Exactly 4 days later we realized that we are expecting our 5th child. Wait...WHAT? Sooo many thoughts were going through my head at that time, not one of them focused on our India trip. A serious conundrum...How in the world is this possible? Based on my medical history could I actually even be pregnant when it came time to travel? I was convinced at my first doctors appointment that when the time came, there would in fact, be no pregnancy. I was able to get in to see my doctor the day after we found out, and as we both sat there in shock (the doctor and I), I asked him about our India trip. He assured me that the weeks we would be gone would be just fine to travel. I thought for sure he meant I could travel because I most likely wouldn't be pregnant when it came time to come anyway. I was 7 weeks along.

4 weeks later at my next appointment, I was surprised to still be pregnant, and although no concerns were expressed, I got the feeling he was a little surprised too. Because of the high"er"-risk of my pregnancy, I am able to have ultrasounds monthly and sure enough, things looked as alien as can be in an 11-week old.

I know this blog is supposed to be about our travels and whatnot, however, the focus quickly shifted to a pregnancy travel blog. At my 15 week appointment I thought for sure we'd be able to tell the gender of the baby, but the ultrasound tech was not going to give me anything! I had to wait four more weeks...

Finally, the Monday before heading out to India, we found out that indeed we are having a girl. After 4 boys, mostly self-sufficient, we will be staring over with a new little blessing of pink and bows.

Except, wait, now I've gotten ahead of the getting ready to come out here story...


By the end of April we had realized that we needed to get our Indian visas soon. So between Ryan traveling back and forth to Utah, and when he and I both had time to sit down for multiple hours, we finally sat down and got our visa applications ready. After looking over each application, we realized that some aspect of each application has wrong information on it, Brayden's passport number was off, Conor was checked off as "female", Dallan's birthday was wrong...something on every form. So, we had to start over. This was our second time going through this application process, so we knew the paperwork was time consuming. After finally getting things filled out properly, birth certificates copies, papers notarized, etc, etc, it was the beginning of May. We knew it was super fast getting visas in the past, and since that is all we had to go on, we still were not worried about a time crunch...until we got a phone call the second week of May from the 3rd party company we used to check out all our information. It was as if a bomb dropped...

"Hi, this is Travisa. We've received your documents for your Indian visas, but we regret to inform you the Indian consulate in between processing companies right now and will not be taking any applications until May 21st. And companies like ours, 3rd party companies will not be able to apply until May 27th. I noticed that you requested your passports back by June 1st with a travel date of June 6th, but with the change of companies it will be impossible to get to you your passports by your travel date."

"What are our options?"

"The best option you have right now is to hand deliver the applications to the San Francisco office on May 21st. That is, if they are up and running by then. Sorry for the inconvenience."

That was one of many back and forth phone conversations that took place about our visa applications. After much deliberation, and verifying to make sure the offices were in fact open, on May 22nd I took off (with a brave friend willing to keep me company) to San Francisco. We drove. Why? Because I just wasn't sure what was going to happen, and based on the events that followed, it's a good thing we did.

Thursday, May 22nd: long drive to San Francisco

Friday, May 23rd: got in line at the visa processing office. There were about 40 people in front of us. As we started chatting with those around us, this was their 3rd day in line because the computers hadn't been up and running, or they were lagging, or they'd just reset in the middle of processing and you'd have to start all over again. This is going to be FUN! By 9:00 in the morning the office had determined to separate the groups into two groups..."appointments" and "walk-in's". The funny thing is that we tried for several days to make an appointment, but couldn't because the website was down. By 9:10, the visa processing office was only going to accept appointments. No walk-in's would be seen. But you could put your name on a list and come back Tuesday, May 27th...after Memorial Day. Since I'm such a calm person, I proceeded to freak out and call Ryan on the phone. He told me to hold tight and that he'd call me back. After being on hold for close to an hour, he called me back to let me know what I needed to do. Evidently he finally was able to talk to the office manager and he wanted me to come knock on the door (oh, did I forget to tell you they locked the doors because people are CRAZY!) and ask for himself by name. At 10:30 ish, I proceeded to do as told. I was let into the building after a couple of minutes, met with Rajesh, the office manager, who took all my paperwork and passport information and told me he would input the information in himself. He asked me to give him until 1:00, come back, ask for him again and we would settle the payment. I was floored! How did I get around waiting in line for hours? How was I even able to been seen by someone, and the manager, nonetheless! But yet, it was only the beginning. At 1:00 we returned to the office, only to see more angry people, different angry people. I knocked on the door only to be told to come back at 5:00. So we did. By 5:00 I was starting to see the pattern. The lack of organization and chaos was rampant! At one point the fire marshal had come because the office had passed fire code occupants. The poilce had come out because there was too much mayhem on the streets. Media had shown up at some point snapping pictures of the lack of organization. When we returned at 5:00 there was a completely different group of people there. Some to pick up visas, some to still try and get their visas processed, but we still were not allowed in the building. We waited and waited. I wasn't going to leave. By 6:00, the office let us know they would only be seeing people until 6:30, but they hadn't let anyone in the building in the hour we were standing outside. At 6:15, the office let us know they would be seeing everyone tonight and they would stay open until the last person left...we left at 9:15, and still no applications were processed. At 9:00 I was able to track down the manager and express my concerns about my application. He gave me his personal (so I thought) cell phone number and told me to call him back at 11:30 the next morning. The office would be open on Saturday, but only to those trying to get visa applications processed the previous 3 days. This is why I didn't book a flight.

Saturday, May 24th: I called Rajesh at 11:30, but he didn't answer. I talked to Ricky (the other manager), who wouldn't let me talk to Rajesh. Ricky told me to give them an hour, so they could "finish up" my applications. I gave them an hour, but wasn't going to give more than that. The clock was ticking to get these  visas processed and I knew it. At 1:00 I went to the office, ready to be done. When I showed up (after they let us in the locked door), I got the "oh, crap she's here, we better get these done" look. 1:00 on Saturday is when they STARTED processing our visa applications. But I wasn't going anywhere. I wasn't "coming back"...I wasn't leaving until I had paid for the applications and my receipts  were in hand. At 3:15 I was told the applications were processed. I asked if we could get them I begged them to Fed-Ex them to When our passports are done in 3-5 business days I would have to come back!

(Why was everything so discombobulated? Evidently when the previous visa processing company knew their contract by the Indian consulate was not going to be renewed they either stopped processing applications, or had them processed, and threw them in boxes without any sort of organization. When the new company opened, they had over 70 boxes with passports and or visa applications and no rhyme or reason to them. We met people whose passports were completely lost...multiple people. I think even with all the crazy of heading back and forth to San Francisco, twice, I'm still glad not one of our passports were lost.)

By Thursday, May 29th, we (Ryan and I this time) were headed back to San Francisco to pick up passports. On Friday, May 30th, we were in and out of the visa office within 20 minutes.)

But wait, we're still not there!


By the time we finally got visas, we had one week to spare before heading out. Everything was finalized, house was in order, bills, etc, etc. One night as I was checking our itinerary, I noticed we did not have any seat assignments for the first leg of our trip, from Boise to Portland. I thought that was strange since I knew I had already done this. I proceeded to make seat assignments and when the screen refreshed with the assignments, I noticed that our initial flight time out of Boise that was supposed to be 10:00 am has now refreshed itself to 6:00 am. Are you kidding? a) what flight are we on, b) why was I not notified, and c) 6:00 am? Just what we wanted to do was interrupt our sleep before traveling on a plane for 35ish hours, add a 4 hour layover in Portland (at 6:00 am) AND get a family of 6 out the door by 4:00 am. We called to verify and indeed we had been moved to the earlier flight because the 10:00 flight was no longer being serviced. Ugh.

So, 7 hours at Portland it was! You know you've been at an airport for a long time when you can eat both breakfast and lunch there.

Finally off to Amsterdam! After a long 10 hour flight we made it to Amsterdam, walked 20 minutes to our connecting flight, sat down , got out a snack, only for Dallan to ask, "Where's my ipod?" After looking through all the bags, and deciding it definitely wasn't with us, we came to the conclusion that the ipod was left on the plane. Ugh again. The best part was the way you go through security check and enter the gate you're leaving from, you're behind a glass wall and basically not allowed to leave the area. Ryan got a hold of the main security guy, who called down to the terminal we flew into, and someone finally found the ipod, except we had all started boarding. Now he needed to find someone else that could bring it to where we were boarding. The other boys and I had found our seats and as the plane continued to fill up. Ryan and Dallan finally came on about 5 minutes before the doors were shut! But we were on our way with all the kids and all the devices...Mumbai, here we come! (Where we would have a 9 hour layover!)

By the time we got into Mumbai on Saturday, June 7th, it was about 11:30 pm. At this point we'd been traveling for about 31 hours. We knew it would take awhile to collect our luggage and transfer to the domestic airport, but we'd done it before and our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 8:55 the next morning, so we knew we had plenty of time. We waited and waited in line to get our boarding passes, only to find out the flight had been cancelled. The airline we were using has completely stopped flying to the city where we booked our flights to. Ryan went around and around with the manager of the airline company and after about 3 1/2 hours we had two options: 1) they could fly us as far as Hyderabad, but then we'd need to find our own way to Vizag (still an 8 hour drive...with 6 India...and 14 bags of luggage. Option 1 didn't seem very feesable.)  Option 2: get a refund from the airline company and book another flight. Evidently, the airline had tried to contact us via text message about a month ago, letting us know there was no more service to Vizag. What they didn't know is that they were trying to send a text message to a land line (Ryan's office number because that was the cc contact information given to them). Obviously, no one got the memo. :(  We opted to take the refund and get a hotel for the night. We were exhausted.

The next unforeseen issue was that it was now Sunday, at 3:30 in the morning and there were no taxis that were running. Our only choice was to walk to the closest hotel...luckily the hotel is nice, but with 6 people it becomes expensive! After finally checking in and getting settled by 4:30, we only needed to wait 2 hours before we could eat breakfast! But first, we needed plane tickets to get out of Mumbai. The earliest flight out we could book for our family was Wednesday, June 11th. That's right, we're still in Mumbai! We haven't made it to where we need to go...yet. For those that know we spent a few days in Mumbai last year, know that we love this city. There's tons to do! I do have to say, though, trying to keep kids occupied, in a hotel where the pool isn't working, and having to take a taxi everywhere we go, gets really expensive! However, here we are, trying to make the best of it.

So, what have we done? First, we're still trying to adjust to the time change. Sunday we all fell asleep at about 7:30 am and woke up by 7:30 pm. At 2:00 am Monday we decided we were hungry, so we ate dinner...and dessert, went back to the room and hung out until we were hungry enough to eat breakfast. Monday about 11:00, the kids (or should I say Ryan) was able to find the only 1/2 pipe Mumbai has to a 'Quicksilver' store, in the mall, in the air conditioning. Oh, did I mention they all brought skateboards? (That'll be another blog post, I'm sure.) After that we headed to the 'Hard Rock Cafe' where Brayden was allowed to play on the drums to a few songs that were playing. He had a blast, and how awesome for him to say he played on the drums at the 'Hard Rock'? Anyway, we're trying to make the best of the crazy situation we've been put in. I've always said, "whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!" and we're not dead yet! (Although I do have to update and tell you that the Hyderabad airport where the airline wanted to fly us to had a huge protest because of some parents that had lost high school aged children in a flood - it's a crazy story, so I'm glad we didn't end up there either).

***Here's another update for those interested...the baby is still kicking and doing fine!***

 Here's a few pictures from the trip so far!

                                              "Thumbs up" on the hotel omelettes.                                                

                                            "Thumbs up" on the pancakes, too.

                      A rare "thumbs up" for Conor with food...probably because of the bacon!

                                        1/2 pipe inside the Quicksilver store in the mall

                                           Ryan helping Dallan keep his balance.

                                                   Davis getting ready to drop in.

                                                     Conor keeping his balance!

                                             New Indian skateboarding friends!

                                                     Everyone with the half pipe.

                                                           Gateway of India

         'Hard Rock Cafe' where Brayden played on the drums...Ryan took video, will post later.