7.31.2008

Hello From Chennai!

We're Here, We're Here, We're FINALLY Here!!

We finally made it to India after the long flights and layovers, though this time was the first time that we were not without incident. The flight from Frankfurt to Chennai was relatively uneventful, though quite long and boring. We arrived on time, we managed to make it through customs and immigration, and met our sponsors in the baggage claim area. While they entertained the kidlets, Matt and I were on the hunt for our luggage and the dog. Everything made it here perfectly...... EXCEPT my bag. Nine bags and the dog arrived safe and sound, but somehow, somewhere, my bag did not end up on our luggage cart. Thank goodness I had the foresight to bring my deodorant, an extra tooth brush, toothpaste, and the infamous hair cream with me. Besides the clothes on my back, this is all I had to start out our new journey. What's more upsetting to me is that every new stitch of clothing I had purchased over the summer... every piece of makeup, every new accessory was gone, gone, gone like the wind.

After the luggage carousel was turned off, and we filled out the bevy of paperwork to track down the missing bag, we exited the baggage claim area and made our way to the awaiting van. We piled everything in the car, sat with the kids in our laps (yup, no room for the car seats in this van), and made the 25 minute trek to our new home. Our house is in a centrally located part of town (not that it means anything to me right now), and has 3 bedrooms, 3 full baths, an office, a playroom, a living room / dining room combo, and a kitchen. It also has maids quarters in the back and an attached garage. It's your standard concrete bungalow - complete with new paint and bug spray smell to match!

We brought all the bags in, took a quick tour, located the girls bedrooms, and put them to bed as soon as we could. The next few hours and days were a complete blur. We've been dealing with the 9.5 hour time change from the East Coast, getting used to sleeping under mosquito netting that encloses all of our beds, and the never ending sulfur smell in the water and in the air.

After being here for a whopping 5 days, I can now attest to the fact that the most important decision ever made upon arrival here is hiring a good driver. Many of you will ask why a driver is necessary. Let me tell you... Driving here is something that you have to see for yourself to actually believe. There are NO street signs anywhere, cars share the road with motorcycles, bicycles, auto rickshaws, and even animals. The rules of the road are that there are no rules. The steering wheel is on the right, and driving is on the left, just like in the UK. You don't honk here to let someone know to get out of the way, it's to let them know that you are mere centimeters away from hitting them - so best be careful when changing lanes... if there were any clearly marked. I could go on and on about driving, and will I'm sure in later posts.

We hired Matt's predecessor's driver on the recommendation of a wonderful guy in Matt's office who helped put everything together. He contacted the driver, let him know of our arrival, and worked with him to have our car washed and ready for us to get out on Monday morning. Drivers here are worth their weight in gold. They spend ten hours a day with you, so you better get someone you don't mind chatting with or being around all day long. They will not only take you everywhere you want to go, but they are also akin to personal assistants. They schlep your groceries in and out of the car, they help get the kids in / out of the car, they run your errands. It is a little disconcerting to have someone always at your beck and call... drivers literally just sit and wait for you until you're ready to go. But it's a decent paying job and I've heard how hard it is to find a reliable, trust worthy driver.

I'd like to say that it's been an easy transition, but being without luggage is a very unsettling feeling. I went the first two days in the same clothes. Yesterday I had a girlfriend who I had known from our first post in Oman, take me to a few clothing shops to find a couple pairs of pants and shirts to tide me over. Now I'm taking the time to re-order a majority of the clothes that I had already purchased to replenish my non-existent wardrobe. Just think about how much money you spend on your toiletries alone! Lufthansa has a record of my bag getting loaded onto the flight from Frankfurt to Chennai, so regardless that the agents here in India can't seem to locate it, we're decided to move forward and file a police report tomorrow as if it was stolen, not lost. I just hope that this will move the process along, and I can begin to submit my claims to Lufthansa and our renters insurance policy to get reimbursed for something...

I have so much to say, but tonight is my first real time on internet since we got here. Amazingly we were able to have broadband hooked up in our house this evening, which was a story in and of itself, but I'll have to save that for a future post. I will just say that if you ever wondered how many Indians it takes to hook up your internet... the answer is 7.

I have slowly started reading all the e-mails and comments from my last post. While I would usually send personal e-mails back to everyone, I just can't right now. My inbox is overflowing and with trying to re-order my stuff (which is taking a priority over everything), I'll honestly never get around to it in a timely manner. So to those of you who were so kind to write to me - thank you for your kind words! After the kids start school next week I'll have more of an opportunity to get online.

Signing off from my first post in India. Stay tuned daily, there's lots more to come!

7.27.2008

Whoa... We're Half-Way There. Whooooaaaa... We're Living On A Prayer

Well maybe not a prayer, but definitely little sleep! We're broadcasting to you live from Frankfurt, Germany, where the current time here is 9:00 am.

We've made it through the two hardest parts of the trip: the drive from the hotel to the airport, and checking in. We are definitely a sight to see when we pull up to the curb. Picture this... two frantic adults whisking kids out of car seats and making them sit on the curb with their rolling backpacks, putting car seats into carrying cases, dragging out 8 large bags, coercing a Labrador Retriever into a kennel, chucking the stroller next to the kids, finding the rest of the carry-on luggage, and then inspecting every nook and cranny of the rental car to ensure that we did not leave anything behind.

Matt usually hail's a skycap with a large trolley to load all of the baggage and escort us inside, while I return the rental car and meet him in the terminal. By this point he's just getting in to the oversize baggage line, and after generously tipping the skycap for lifting over 500 pounds worth of luggage, we now have drawn the attention of almost everyone in the waiting area. Today was no exception.

The agent who checked us in was fantastic! Everything went smoothly, albeit slowly, though I honestly can't complain. I think that's what happens when you start doling out $10 and $20 bills like they're $1's. Best of all, our upgrades to business class went through and we only had to use half the miles we thought we needed. Score! After 45 minutes at the counter (including time to x-ray our bags and TSA to check Libby's crate), we were on our way through the security check point.

Here's where the problems began. We took the computer out of my bag, we took the DVD player out of Matt's, we all took our shoes off, Matt took off every item that could potentially bee, I folded the stroller, and we put everything we owned on the conveyor belt. We all walked through the x-ray machine, and surprisingly nobody beeped. (As a side note here, every time I walk through one I ALWAYS think of the classic movie, High Anxiety, when Mel Brooks walked through the metal detector while carrying a gun, and beeped, and caused such a stir that nobody knew what to make of it. Though I digress.)

What did happen however, was that my bag had to be searched because I brought a stick of deodorant and my $30 Kiehl's hair smoothing cream to help with the frizz. It's my end all be all of hair products, the one I will spend any amount of money on, and just can't live without. Apparently, my tube of Kiehl's was 4.2 oz and the limit I can carry on is 3.4 oz. I would either have to throw it out, check it in my bag, or go and buy these see through containers and split the cream into two separate tubes. I absolutely refused to let them throw it out. It's my only anti-frizz cream and I know I'm going to need it in India ASAP. I argued with them that the container was already see through, they could tell that I had used a good amount in it, and it was probably within the alloted limits already. No such luck. I wouldn't have been as irritated had they been consistent with their rules. See, I had packed 10 juice boxes in our carry-on baggage... 4 four-ounce juice boxes in Riley's backpack, 4 four-ounce juice boxes in Matt's, and 2 eight-ounce juice boxes in my purse! Did they even notice?

As I had a few extra minutes, I decided to go try to find these other containers and re-distribute my hair cream. I sent Matt and the girls on their way, and back through the terminal I went. I looked and looked but couldn't find where these mystery containers were. I was losing time and I was frustrated. Without incriminating myself, let's just say that in the end, my hair cream and I did not part.

I met up with Matt and the girls at our gate, with ten minutes to spare before boarding. We made brief phone calls to our parents to say good-byes, and while talking with my brother my phone ran out of minutes. It was a sign!

The plane we took to Frankfurt was a new configuration. It was a 747- though half the seats in business class were backwards, as if you were riding on a train. Matt said the feeling while taking off was odd, and Sheridan even asked if we were landing. The seats recline a complete 180 degrees, and they also had a selection of five On Demand kids movies, which was great, except when it came time to sleep! My only disappointment with the flight is that there were no children's meals to be had, regardless of my request and confirmation. Argh...

We're now in McDonald's, sitting, waiting, and relaxing. The next part of the story will eventually be continued... Wishing you a Happy Sunday from Germany. Auf Wiedersehen.


7.26.2008

We're Leaving On A Jet Plane - Don't Know When I'll Have Internet Again

This is my last post from the United States of America. In less than 8 hours we'll be boarding our first of two planes and heading to our new home in Chennai, India. It has been a fun summer seeing family and a few friends, but we're very excited to move on to our new adventure.

The flight time to Chennai is approximately 21 hours... an 8 hour flight to Frankfurt, followed by a 4 hour layover, and ending with a 9.5 hour flight to Chennai. Total mileage flown from Virginia is 8814 miles.

We're arriving in India late Sunday night, and will hopefully clear customs swiftly and easily. I don't know when I'll have the chance to get onto e-mail, write about our travels, and begin documenting our tales - hopefully sooner than later! The next time you hear from me, it'll be from the other side of the world. Literally.

Until then... Pottu Varan (goodbye in Tamil).

7.25.2008

My Co-Pay Is WHAT???

I finally filled the prescriptions the doctor had written for me on my last visit & procedure before we left Los Angeles. I decided to wait until we got to Virginia to fill them as I knew there was a CVS around the corner from our hotel that's open 24/7, and if I did it in California I wasn't sure if the nearest pharmacy would have enough on hand, or if they'd make me wait. Patience is not my long suit.

I dropped off the prescriptions on Tuesday and decided to give them time to fill them. We were busy all day Wednesday with the dog stuff, so I went back yesterday to pick them up. They put one part of the prescription on the counter, but were scurrying around to find the other. While waiting, I took a look at the blue shaded area where it tells me what I owe, and I almost fell over in shock. My co-pay was $587. Five Hundred Eighty Seven Dollars??? What the ...???? I told the lady that there must be some kind of mistake, that I spoke with my insurance as to why I need it, and I know this prescription is covered. I told them that I was not going to pay for it and I needed to call my insurance again to straighten this out.

Outside of the pharmacy, with my heart pounding, I quickly dialed the pharmacy number on the back of my insurance card. I explained to the technician what had happened and she researched the drug. Yes, it is covered through the mail order program with a $35 co-pay for a 90-day supply. However, as I'm trying to fill it in a retail pharmacy, my cost is 25% of the prescription. Whoa... a serious difference in price. Why would I even consider filling it in the pharmacy if I could get it for a mere fraction of the price.

I stayed on the phone with her through the endless transferring process and began the "paperwork" to order this prescription through the mail. I gave all of the pertinent information - name, date of birth, address, credit card number to charge my prescriptions once they're sent. Everything went smoothly, until they told me that I needed to send in my prescription and it would take 5 - 7 business days to process the prescription, and I would receive it within 4-6 weeks. My heart sank yet again.

For once I was extremely calm, yet I'm sure the woman could hear the trepidation in my voice. I was seriously on the verge of tears. While I don't need this prescription immediately, I would really LIKE it sooner rather than later. And let's be honest, from experience, I know that if I don't follow up on things like this, they don't always get done correctly, or in a timely manner. Am I really going to have time this once I get to India next week?

To speed this story along... The doctor's office re-called in the prescription to the mail order specialty pharmacy. And after hearing my story (to which I completely admitted it was all my fault), the representative at Medco wanted so badly to help me out, that he personally expedited the prescription, and circumvented the entire process. Within 3 hours called me back to tell me that everything has been approved and they would FedEx the 90-day supply to my hotel so I would have it no later than noon the next day (today). All for the low, low price of my $35 co-pay. Oh yeah, shipping is free! There were no additional charges for the overnight FedEx.

True to his word, at 9:30 am this morning, the front desk at the hotel called me to let me know I had received a box. A rather LARGE box. Filled with my 90-day prescription that is WAY too big and bulky to fit in the remaining space we have available. So off to Target we will go to buy another suitcase (we needed one anyway to fit the "stuff" we bought here in Virginia). And thank you notes. Because I need to let this amazing customer service representative understand my appreciation.

7.23.2008

Will The Madness Ever End?

I thought this week was supposed to be relatively relaxing. How wrong I was! Yesterday we spent most of the day in the car dealing with dog issues. Don't worry the dog is fine... just causing a thorn in our side.

Libby is currently kenneled at a great boarding facility near our hotel. We decided to keep her there until our departure to India since we went up to the New York area for 5 days, and have been running errands every day since our return to Virginia. The kennel came highly recommended, and for the most part has been very receptive to our requests... though everything comes with a price. An additional $150, but who's counting?

In order to have Libby accompany us to India as excess baggage, we were required to have the Health Certificate and USDA approvals faxed in to the U.S. Consulate in Chennai no later than 3 business days prior to our arrival. The kennel told me that it wouldn't be a problem to handle all of this for us. They would perform the Health Certificate on Sunday, and then FedEx the signed certificate and accompanying information to the USDA, and I could stop by Wednesday to pick everything up. Imagine my surprise (and extreme irritation) when I called at 8 am Monday morning to follow-up on the Health Certificate that was supposed to be completed on Sunday, and discovered it was not done. Apparently, the vet who was supposed to do it was out of town for the weekend and would instead do it on Tuesday afternoon.

Are you freakin' kidding me?

I was so flustered with the news from the kennel that I'm sure I wasn't very nice to the lady on the other end of the phone. What I now needed to do was get in contact with the USDA, and make an appointment to drive the paperwork out to them on Tuesday afternoon. If they had any openings. In Annapolis, Maryland. An hour and a half away.

The vet agreed to come to the kennel a few hours earlier, and on Tuesday morning I left the hotel to drive the hour and a half round trip (just after a rainstorm) to the kennel to pick up the paperwork. I then went back to the hotel and picked up Matt and the girls, and we all made the long trek out to the USDA to get the additional paperwork signed and sealed.

Seven minutes in the USDA office and $24 later, the paperwork was completed and we were ready to drive back. In rush hour traffic. We also got lost (and didn't ask for directions, because Matt knew where we were headed...). Sure.

We spent over 6 hours in the car yesterday. Six long hours. But the paperwork is done. It was faxed into and received in Chennai this morning. And we're one step closer to leaving.

If only our furry little family member had a clue how much trouble she causes...

7.22.2008

Capital Cousins

We hadn't even arrived in Washington, D.C. before more relatives found out we were heading their way. My cousins, two who usually live in Washington State and the other who's at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, are spending the summer working in D.C., and their parents (duh, also my cousins) were in town to see them. We met up with them near Dupont Circle for a lovely Italian dinner.



Daniel & Sharona with the girls ~ Avi, Rachel, Riley, Sharona, Sheridan, and Daniel


Finally... a semi-decent family photo!

7.20.2008

Note To Self... Wear Comfortable Shoes

I misplaced my note.

I didn't think anything of it until I got horrible blisters on the bottom of my feet from walking over 40 blocks around New York City on Friday.

After leaving Connecticut and dropping our bags off at my cousin's house in Larchmont, we took the train into New York City to see a few of Matt's friends... Rich his friend growing up, and Craig is a friend from college. They met us for a quick trip to FAO Schwarz - where the girls ooh'd and aah'd over everything and then deemed me, "the meanest mom EVER!" when I told them I was not going to buy them the life sized Barbie dolls and the $4000 doll house. The nerve of me, right?

We did a few hours of schmoozing and window shopping, and then rushed back to catch the train in Grand Central Station. On the way, I stopped in a Payless Shoe Source to purchase a cheap pair of flip flops so I could continue walking down Lexington Avenue. I must have been in pain if I chose "function over form"...

My brother caught the same train back to Larchmont, and 35-minutes later my cousin Michael picked us up from the train station. We had a great dinner with Michael and Nancy (one that I again didn't have to cook), and afterwards took a walk to the Long Island Sound. Oh the girls were pooped by the end of the day.

Saturday we had lunch in Stamford with Matt's relatives; his great aunt and uncle, another great aunt, a few cousins, and his brother. We hadn't seen many of these relatives in over 5 years! We followed up our lunch by spending the afternoon with Matt's friend Karen, her family, and some friends of theirs from NYC. The kids swam up a storm, watched a movie in their home-theatre, and we barbecued dinner and caught up on the last 6 years. It was another late night, we didn't get home until almost 10 pm.

We're now packing up and getting ready to head back to D.C. I'm looking forward to a relaxing week... the calm before the storm.


Friday Photos:



Mr. P and Riley ~ Seli and the girls



Matt, Rich, and the girls ~ In front of FAO Schwarz



Uncle Scott and the girls ~ Cousins Michael and Nancy with the girls


Saturday Photos:



Matt's relatives ~ Uncle Adam and the girls ~ Great Aunt Doris and Uncle Bert



All the kids eating dinner ~ Matt and Karen


7.17.2008

Just Checking In... And Then We're Off Yet Again

It has been nothing short of chaotic since our arrival on the East Coast. After boarding the dog at a kennel in Washington, DC, and dropping off a majority of our bags at another State Department Agent's home, we packed up the kids and the car (this time an SUV) and made our way up to our friend's rented beach house in New Jersey. The ride was relatively painless, albeit expensive (the tolls cost about $20), and around 5:30 pm we were met by our dear friends, who were also our neighbors, from our last two posts in both Oman and Israel. The kids were greeted with tons of hugs and kisses and quickly ushered into the house to cause havoc and mayhem as only five best friends could.

We spent the evening catching up, noshing, chasing kids, drinking a few cocktails, and taking a lovely 9 pm stroll to the beach, about a mile from their home. It was still so warm out, the kids all walked in their bathing suits. After an ice cream and quick bath, we put the girls down in the same room; two to a bed. In theory it was a fabulous idea, though the execution left quite a bit to be desired. The girls were so giddy to see each other again that little sleep was had, and they didn't crash out until close to midnight.

After an early morning visit from two very sleepy girls, we all got up, got ready, and left the house for a morning at the beach, followed up by an afternoon at the boardwalk. We ran the kids around until they were so pooped that they were asking to take naps. With a quick change, and many hugs and kisses good-bye, we bid our adieus and headed on the road again to our next destination... Darien, Connecticut.

Another almost $20 in tolls over interstates and bridges, we made the quick jaunt to stay for the next two nights with Matthew's family's very close friend, the wonderfully hospitable Englishman, Mr. P., who says words like slobberchops and drinks warm beer. A truly amazing host, Mr. P took the time to read through my post about items we sent in our consumables shipment and then went to the stores to have enough goodies in his house upon our arrival. He went so far as to have Puffins cereal for the girls and Frappuccino's for me!

We spent the afternoon today in Matt's old stomping ground with Marie and her two children, one of Matt's closest girlfriends from high school in Stamford. The girls had an absolute blast from the minute we walked in... there were all different kinds of toys for them to play with. They played inside, they played outside, they got pooped out (and so did I). I was quite overheated and exhausted, still not quite acclimated to the minor time change. We left before dinner, and after a nibble at a pizza place in Darien, we had the kids in bed by 7:30 pm, just in time for some much needed rest!

Tomorrow we're packing up our bags and heading onto my cousins house in Westchester County, our last accommodations for the weekend. We have another packed few days too... we're taking the girls on the train into New York City tomorrow, their first trip there, where we'll be meeting more of Matt's friends. Then we're heading back to the 'burbs for dinner at my cousin's house. Saturday we have lunch with Matt's great aunt and uncle, tons of cousins, and his brother, followed up by a late afternoon play date with another one of Matt's close girlfriends and her family. We conclude the festivities on Sunday morning with a trip to a bagel shop, a stop at Starbucks, and the long drive back down to Washington, D.C. for our final week in the States.

Try to keep up with us... we're fitting a heck of a lot into a short amount of time!



Sheridan, Riley, Kit, and Gabby together again ... ~ ... Attempting to go to sleep



The kids hanging in the sand at the Beach Club ~ The adults all in need of a SERIOUS shower



Matt and the girls hanging out at Marie's with her kids Rose and Michael ~ A Family photo!

7.15.2008

Greetings From The East... Coast That Is!

After our whirlwind (or so it seemed) six week "vacation" in California, it was time for us to pack up our 7 large suitcases, 4 carry-on bags, 2 car seats, the beat-up stroller, and 100 pound dog and crate, and head off today to Washington, DC. It was a long day traveling; we had a 2.5 hour delay in Los Angeles, a five hour flight, and an hour wait for our hotel shuttle once we arrived in DC. We left the house at 6 am and didn't arrive to the hotel until 9 pm. Oh it was a LONG day... at least for me.

For the girls? Not so much. A five hour plane ride to them is merely an errand. They don't even flinch when we tell them how long each flight is going to be now. They only ask if it's as long as driving to Bubbie and Zadie's house, (the 7+ hour drive from my in-laws to my parents house) which seems to be their tolerance benchmark. Today's flight was no exception. Sure they weren't thrilled about the added delay at LAX airport, but they know the drill. No whining, crying, hitting, spitting, biting, yelling, jumping, or throwing fits on the airplane... They just usually save it up until right after we step foot off the airplane, or better yet in the baggage claim. Hey, as long as I'm not screaming at them through clenched teeth to "... cut... that ... bleepity bleep ... out ... right ... now!"

Over the years the girls have turned into well seasoned travelers, which is not surprising since they've logged over 150,000 miles between them, with Riley traveling on fourteen transatlantic flights and Sheridan on eleven. Their passports are peppered with entrance and exit stamps from an amazing list of countries visited, a perk of living overseas for the last five years that we've really tried to use to our advantage.

As you all know we're off to Chennai next Saturday. Thankfully flying from Washington, DC puts us at least five hours closer to our two-day travel ordeal. We'll be hanging out on the East Coast these next two weeks, a bit in the Tri-State area visiting family and friends, and next week in DC while Matt does a smidgen of work before we head out. If you don't hear from us for awhile, it's because we're off gallivanting around, showing the girls our favorite spots, and have no wireless internet service to tell you of our tales.

Until I'm able to write again...

7.12.2008

Happy Birthday Libby!

We celebrated Perlman's Lady Liberty (her AKC name) ... otherwise known as Libby's 7th birthday today. We got her a few weeks after 9/11, and as Matt was working in New York City at the time, we wanted a name that was patriotic. My girlfriend Kelly came up with the name Liberty - and we shortened it to Libby.

We took Libby to lunch at the Park Bench Cafe, an outdoor restaurant in Huntington Beach that caters to both people and dogs. In fact, you can even order treats for your dog off the menu! We met up with several family members who also have dogs, and had ourselves a little party.

Here are a few shots from Libby's special day.







7.09.2008

Lucy, You Got Some 'Splainin' To Do...

You've got questions, I've got answers!

I sparked a lot of questions yesterday with the incredibly embarrassing photo of our consumables that we sent to India. Based on the comments and e-mails I've received about what we sent and why we sent it, I thought I'd follow up with a tad more info, and even give a run down of what in the heck we sent ourselves... inquiring minds want to know!

First and foremost, "YES", we can get food AND toilet paper in India. That seems to be the biggest question that everyone's been asking. But that's not the point of sending consumables. Of course we can get food (well, I say that knowing full well that many people can't, but that's a post I'm sure I'll do once I get there and get settled).

To quote a line in one my daughters newly favorite movies, "Let's start at the very beginning... a very good place to start..." India will be our first consumables post. Consumables are anything that are used up, they do not wear out. At some posts, needed foodstuffs are not readily available, and the employees (like my husband) are entitled to an extra weight allowance provided FREE to us by the good ol' U.S. Government (let's be honest, nothing is free when working for the government... though I digress). For our 3-year tour in India, we're allowed an additional 3750 pounds of consumables sent to us either in one lump sum - or in a total of 3 shipments.

To recap our weight limits:

Air Freight - we get 700 pounds... and we used ALL of it
Household Effects - we get 7200 pounds .... and we used 7028 pounds from Israel to India
Consumables - we get 3750 pounds ... and we used..... I don't know yet. We find out tomorrow

So back to our shipment yesterday. From what I've read, and ladies I've been in touch with in India, we can get a majority of the foods that we and the kids like, though it comes with a price. Imported food is expensive, and not just from the U.S., from anywhere. We're willing to eat the local brands, so that will help keep the costs down, but some foods that we're used to, just aren't the same outside the U.S. And some of it is just plain non-existent. The bottom line... it makes more sense to buy it now in bulk, pay less for it now up front rather than pay for it if we purchased it in India, and best of all... have it sent for free.

Think about it... how many of you have run out of Parmesan cheese, creamy peanut butter, mac and cheese, or hot dogs and had your kids utterly meltdown right in front of you? All you have to do is run to your local grocery and pick up a new one, plop it down, and you're fine. If that happens to us? Well... it's not as easy. It's finding a grocery that sells it, or making a schlep to the commissary and hope that they have what we need in stock, or ordering online from netgrocer.com and waiting... for 3 weeks for the USPS to deliver it to us. In the meantime, I'm bald from pulling my hair out, drunk from numbing the pain, and about to be reported to child protective services (or the Indian equivalent) after my never-ending tirade with the girlies to stop...their...whining.

We're pretty lucky, the girls are fairly good eaters. They'll try almost anything. For dinner, they usually eat what we eat. They know I'm not a short order cook. But as variety is the spice of life, even I can only eat the same type of cuisine a few times each week. Same goes for the girls. Matt and I love Indian food, and we would be thrilled if the girls expand their palates for Indian cuisine that includes more than just curry chicken. In due time.

The other items we shipped... like cereal, toilet paper, and wine. Well, I've heard that cereal can be upwards of $10 a box, we like our 2 ply toilet paper (especially if the rumor of having Delhi belly - aka diarrhea for the first few months is true), and Chennai is a dry state...so stocking up on wine and spirits was top of my priority list.

Here's a short list of items we sent in our shipment. I already know that I sent way too much... but the fear of not being able to send liquids (we're only allowed one 16-ounce bottle of liquid per box) when we run out was overwhelming. One more thing, while you look at our list, remember how much time and money it took to make the lists, buy the stuff, and organize it for the movers. We spent well over 3 weeks preparing for this shipment. Let's hope I did a good job.

Here goes...

* 10 large boxes Bisquick * 6 large bottles BBQ sauce * 24 packages spaghetti and accompanying sauces * Years supply of Pull-ups * 60 boxes of Mac & Cheese * 60 packs of Easy Mac * 16 cans of Parmesan Cheese * Year supply of everyone's vitamins * 10 jars ranch dressing * 18 jars creamy peanut butter * 36 cans diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste * 1 case of canned tuna * All sorts of ziplock bags, garbage bags * Plates, cups, napkins, paper towels, cutlery * 150 rolls of Charmin Toilet Paper * 12 bags of Chocolate Chips * Razor blades * 10 boxes maple syrup * 36 bottles General Tsao's stir fry sauce * 8 bottles Sweet Ginger Teriyaki sauce * Shampoo, Conditioner, Baby Shampoo, Hair Gels, etc * Every kind of First Aid imaginable, cough syrups, and medication * Personal hygiene products - deodorant, soaps, tampons * 12 bottles Girard salad dressing * 24 boxes of cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Puffins, and Frosted Shredded Wheat) * Nuts of all kinds * 8 cases of apple juice boxes * 10 jars of 21 seasoning salute, and all other kinds of spices * All ingredients for Mexican food - refried beans, chilis, jalapenos, enchilada sauces, etc * Baking supplies - everything imaginable for cookies, cakes, breads, etc * 16 cans of Ice Tea mix * Wine and spirits and mixers * Condiments of all kinds - ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, honey * 200 pounds of dog food * Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, etc * Snicky snacks - granola bars, chips, fruit snacks, candy, gum, etc * Canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil * a bottle of sanity... which will probably break before I receive it.

There's a heck of a lot more... but you get the idea.

7.08.2008

It's Getting Real Folks

The movers came today to pack and ship our consumables and air freight. We leave for the East Coast on Monday for two weeks, and then at the end of July we're off to Chennai. I was actually embarrassed when they walked in and saw how much stuff we had. We have spent a majority of this trip shopping... for food ... and more food... and well... you can see below. I think in total we made 4 trips to Costco, 8 or so trips to Target, 4 trips to Pavillion's grocery store. Oh yeah, don't forget about the advanced order I placed at Trader Joe's, the huge dog run at PetSmart, or the two stops at Smart and Final.

It took the two movers about 3 hours to pack everything up. In total we had 17 boxes of air freight, which should arrive a few weeks in India after we do. And the consumables? Drum roll please............. 34 boxes, which will hopefully arrive by the end of September. Hopefully.

Oh, I do pray that we have a place to store it all.




The unbelievable amount of "stuff" we purchased to last us our first year.... or three



Half a year of dog food... a few bottles of the "good stuff"... battling the "Delhi Belly"


Our air shipment (notice the iMac on top) ... loading the truck with our consumables

7.06.2008

You Like Me... You Really Like Me!

Within the past two weeks I've received my first blog "award" from the hilarious American in Norway, AND I was tagged again in another meme by South End Blend. Fun things happen to those who share their lives online! I'm finally getting off my duff to write about both of these and to thank the ladies who linked to me. It's always fun to be recognized in cyberspace.



Tressa, a Nomadic American living in Norway, awarded me the wonderful Arte Y Pico award. This award originated in Uruguay, from a blogger who will test your Spanish skills if you pay her a visit. Of course, there are rules that accompany this award. They are:
  • Choose five blogs deserving of this award...
  • Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog
  • Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and the link to the blog that presented him/her with the award
  • The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know where it originated.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mary, a chickadee living in coastal Massachusetts, tagged me with a 6 question meme, just after I received my award. Here's my response...

What Were You Doing 10 Years Ago?

I was working as a pharmaceutical sales representative with Oclassen Pharmaceuticals, selling dermatology products (including a gel for genital warts).

Five Items on My To-Do List?

Organize our consumables for the movers who come on Tuesday
Exchange Riley's P.E. tennis shoes for a larger size
Make one more run to Target
Change our address on everything
Send our box of food to India so it arrives before we do

Snacks I Enjoy?

Snickers
Banana Muffins
Gummy Bears
Artichoke Dip
Ranch Potato Chips

Places I Would Live?

Well, I am moving to India...

After that - anywhere in the East Coast

or Chicago

What Would You Do If You Were A Billionaire?

Buy a large house with an open floor plan
Buy a minivan
Save for the girls Bat Mitzvahs, college, weddings, and breast reductions... c'mon, they are my daughters
Donate, donate, donate

Jobs I Have Had?

Worked in a gun department of a sporting goods store
Hostess
Bank Teller
Sales Representative
Pharmaceutical Sales Trainer
Stay-At-Home-MOM!!


(Just like with the Arte Y Pico award, this meme ALSO has rules. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people to do the same. However, I'm not going to tag anyone in the official form of the game... read below to see how I'm changing my meme!)


I posted these together so I could combine my lists and recommend five blogs that I enjoy reading. I really had difficulty narrowing them down because I read so many different blogs; sewing blogs, expat blogs, design blogs, mom blogs. I am always adding new blogs to my site, check over there to see a more complete list of my daily reads. If I missed you, let me know.

When you have time, check out these sites...

Simple Answer
My Therapy
At Home With The Farmer's Wife
Blogging Mama
Shut My Mouth

7.04.2008

Happy 4th of July!

We celebrated Independence Day by marching in a local parade on the Balboa Peninsula. We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July!











7.03.2008

We're Converts!

We did it. We moved into the 21st Century. We finally converted...

... from a PC to a Mac!

Yahoo!!!

We have been researching (ad nauseaum) computers for the past 6 months and witnessed a majority of our friends making the switch. As we're definitely followers and needed to be part of the "in crowd", we too decided to move to a Mac when our desktop began crapping out out us.

The biggest decision was ... whether we buy the iMac desktop or the MacBook laptop. Matt really wanted the MacBook for its size and ease and the ability to use the computer anywhere in the house. I really liked the big screen of the iMac and ... the big screen of the iMac. Oh yeah, did I already mention that I liked the big screen of the iMac?

Yesterday we went to the Apple store and bought our new computer. C'mon, you already know which one we got. We left there with every accessory known to man; wireless connections, Mac.com, iWorks, Time Capsule, Firewire cords, Apple Care, and a printer.

I'm squealing with delight and am trying my darnedest to not open up the box and begin using it now. We have it all packed up and ready to be shipped to India next week.

We're so new to this Mac thing. For those of you who have already moved over to the other side... tell me, is there anything else I should check out with our new computer?

7.02.2008

The FURminator

For the last 5 years, we haven't watched any commercials or infomercials. It's not for lack of television viewing, it's just that our AFN (Armed Forces Network) television stations don't televise commercials. Instead, we get Public Service Announcements, which are all geared towards the lowest common denominator. PSA's about locking your doors, sunburns, gambling, wearing reflective clothing while motorcycling, things you can and can not ship through the post office, and how parking spaces in other countries could be narrower than your car. Your eyes cross after 5 years of enduring these mind numbing announcements.

We've also have missed out on infomercials. No QVC, no Home Shopping Network, no Tony Little screaming at you to purchase the Gazelle, no flowbee hair cutting system, and I can't remember the last time I heard the phrase, "It slices, it dices... and if you act now you can get it for the LOW, LOW price of $19.99, which is a savings of over $200.... our operators are standing by."

While walking through PetSmart yesterday to purchase 300 pounds of dog food, Matt was mesmerized by the infomercial at a kiosk at the end of one of the rows. I suddenly heard my name being called out from across the store to come take a look, so I walked over to see what Matt was watching. Here they showed a golden retriever being brushed with The FURminator, a metal "rake" that with one stroke, takes off the fur that's being shed on both the top and undercoat of the dog. It took less than 5 minutes to brush this dog, and what was left all around was more than enough hair to make a second dog.

Having fought this shedding battle for almost 7 years now, we were desperate for anything that would help keep Libby's fur at bay. After viewing this infomercial for only a few minutes, I was sold. They had me at their motto... "Because your pet's hair looks better in the trash can than on your couch."

Though the price was a tad steep at $59.99 for the large brush, the hair piling up after brushing Libby in the garage was its testament to its efficacy. We are so looking forward to a fur free floor.

Now if only they made one of these for women ...

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