"Name That Rash"

Can you identify this rash in two easy photos? We sure can't.

I noticed this rash on Sheridan's back late this afternoon and my mind immediately began to race. She's had the varicella vaccination, so I don't think it's a mild case of chickenpox. Is it? She's up to date on all her other vaccinations so I know it's not measles, mumps, or rubella. What could it be?

The internet is a terrible thing if you're a worrier like me. Type in "skin rashes" under Google images and you'll see some of the nastiest rashes ever. Go ahead, I'll wait.

She has not complained of any itching and I've yet to see her scratch. She hasn't had a fever, a runny nose or a sore throat. My first reaction was to think it could be impetigo. But she doesn't have any of the blisters, fluid, or crust. She just has a tan colored rash over her entire back, and a few sporadic spots on her stomach.

I'm taking her to the doctor tomorrow, though I have little faith that he'll be able to correctly diagnose her. Can you?

These photos were taken in the bathroom, after her bath. They're not the best shots, and the color is a tad off. But you can enlarge them and get the idea...


Calling One Tooth Fairy to Chennai

Riley lost her first tooth today. Finally. That little chicklet of a tooth has been hanging by a thread for the past week. I was so concerned that she was going to swallow it, that I made her tell her teacher every morning that it was still in, and to watch out for it throughout the day.

She was eating an apple when it finally came out. Luckily for all of us, there was no blood. Just the sudden realization that she could feel her gum and that it felt "funky"... her word, not mine. We wrapped it up in a Kleenex, and kept it aside for her to put in an envelope with a note for the tooth fairy, who she knew would take it and leave her with a small amount of money after she went to bed. The tooth fairy is leaving her 100 Rupees ... the equivalent of about $2.25. And it's paper money, something she's never had. She's going to be in heaven!

Not surprisingly, Riley had a fair amount of questions about the tooth fairy.

* Does she carry a purse?
* When does she find time to rest?
* How big is she?
* How fast does she fly?
* How does she know to come to our house?

I can't wait to see the look on her face when she finds that her envelope is gone and the envelope with the money is left under her pillow. I'm obviously just as excited as she is ...


When Matt met Jill...

May 28, 1993 we met. We mingled at the same pre-nup dinner party. I was the almost-20 year old with the bleach blond hair (no comments please), just finishing up my sophomore year of college. He was the uber cool, just-graduated-from-college boy from Connecticut, who drove a Jeep. We didn't click.

December 1, 1996 we met again. At a baby naming ceremony for the same relatives wedding we attended back in 1993. I saw him standing on the stair case. I watched him look back at me. This time we mingled. We talked for 2 hours. I kept pouring more and more orange juice just to stay talking around the table in the kitchen. I knew. I just knew. And moreover, I told my parents that I knew. As we drove away from the party that day, back up to Northern California, I told them that one day I was going to marry that boy.

January 22, 2000 we met once more. This time, at the end of a long, beautiful white aisle. He was the strapping young man in black. I was the princess with the annoyingly delicate beaded veil in white. This time when we met up, we kissed. Under the Chuppah. And made it legal. I'm not letting him get away this time...

In the past twelve years that we've been together we've:

... moved ten times

... changed jobs six times

... bought one house

... sold one house

... owned eleven personal / company cars

... sold seven personal cars

... traveled to sixteen countries on 4 continents

... got a puppy

... had two children

... been pregnant during two anniversaries

... lived in four different countries

... been in 9,250,146 arguments ... where I've been right 9,250,142 times, though he'd never admit it...

Where did the time go? How should we celebrate? Diamonds earrings? Nope - got those a few years ago. Change in the U.S.? Nope - got that a few days ago. A family vacation? You got it!

Next month we're taking a heavily anticipated family vacation... to Phuket, Thailand! One last hoorah before baby #3 comes along and we really need a vacation.

Happy Anniversary to us! We've come a LONG way baby.


Chennai Going Green?

Add another chapter to the surreal experiences here in India. This, from the same nation that is spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing satellites to map the lunar surface, yet it can't provide enough potable drinking water or sufficient food to its citizens.

We finally got the whole green garbage bin debacle situated, when we discovered that the "garbage boy" is no longer collecting our garbage. Imagine my amusement/frustration when I was informed that due to a new neighborhood "green" initiative, I would now have to sort (aka sift through my trash) and segregate it into small, recyclable piles.

Please note the irony here as this is one of, if not THE, dirtiest places I have ever been in my entire life.

I was given a placard, on non-biodegradable paper by the way, regarding the "Rules For Segregation of Garbage." In keeping with the Indian's natural obsession with bureaucracy, the instructions outline the fifteen or so processes one must take in order to keep their home rubbish free.

While I admire their initiative, I think their execution is a little misguided. Not to sound cynical, but I think this is merely a measure to make it easier for the feral animals to dine on the street.


Minor Frustrations

Our gardener took a bag of the kids beach/pool toys yesterday. He thought they were garbage because I left them on my front porch... even though the garbage can is in the back yard... and I always put the garbage in the garbage can... in the back yard. It's a green garbage can, a large garbage bin, and it can hold a ton of garbage.... like beach toys, if they WERE indeed garbage. Which they weren't. Did I mention the bag was orange. And mesh. And you could totally see through it.

It took me about 6 hours to notice that they weren't there anymore. I had Matt walk the perimeter of the house to see if they were "misplaced." We looked in all the usual places. We looked in the unusual places too. We talked with the maid and the driver. Nope. They didn't see the bright orange mesh bag with the beach toys, though they assure me that if it was left in, on, or around the garbage can they would have seen them.

We called the gardener. Well, the driver who speaks Tamil called the gardener. Guess what he told me (through translation of course)? The gardener thought they were garbage, so he took them home. Really? Go ahead, ask the gardener how often I leave garbage on the front porch. And let's be honest... did that big bag of beach toys REALLY look like garbage? How about the car seats that we leave on the front porch from time to time. Garbage too?

I gave the gardener 2 hours to have the toys back in my possession. No ifs, ands, or buts. I was irritated. He usually goes through the garbage that's in the big green bin and squirrels things away to take home at a later date. And he's usually so humble that he asks if he can take it. He's never been so bold or brazen to just take something that clearly was NOT garbage. Of course it didn't help his situation when we were told about all the stuff the gardener is balking about doing... like cleaning up and trimming trees. Apparently he doesn't like taking orders from the maid. Who speaks Tamil. Since I don't speak it, and I've hit my limit with pantomiming everything that needs to get done around the yard.

Six o'clock on the dot the doorbell rang and lo and behold, there was the gardener, with the big orange mesh bag of beach toys. Matt had the fun job of explaining why we were so upset, and reiterating that anything in, on, or around the green garbage bin is garbage. Everything else isn't. Oh and by the way, here's your additional list of responsibilities...

Minor frustrations. Only minor frustrations.

Do you even want me to begin telling the story of the maid buying the soap today? The exact same soap that's in the downstairs bathroom. The one I showed her... that's pink and has a semi-bearable smell. How does she come home with 3 different soaps, none of which was the pink one with the semi-bearable smell. Argh... Don't get me started.


Bye Bye Thumb... Sucking That Is!

We are thumb sucking free! I thought it would be more traumatic (for all of us), but it's been surprisingly easy.... surprisingly....

Yesterday was the big day ~ one I both looked forward to, yet dreaded, all at the same time. We dropped Riley off at a friend's house and at 2:30 pm, both Matt and I took Sheridan back to the dentist. She threw a minor fit, screaming that she didn't want to get the "thingy" put in her mouth. After calming her down we realized that she really wasn't screaming about the device, she was more upset that Riley was going to play and she wasn't. Priorities people.

The entire dentist visit took less than 10 minutes. When they called us back to the room they already had everything set up; the device, the cement, the tools. We coaxed her to sit by herself in the chair while daddy held her hand and I stood over her snapping photos along the way. They tried the device on first to see how it fit before they cemented it in. A little sanding here and there was all that was needed, and after applying the cement and reinserting it in her mouth, we were on our way. No muss. No fuss. No discomfort. No screaming. Very few tears.

She was in great spirits the rest of the afternoon at our friend's house ... that is, until she bumped her mouth, cut open her bottom lip, and then tried to suck her thumb and realized that it wasn't going to happen. The first of many bloody lips I'm sure we're bound to see.

While we were warned that she would probably be cranky, irritable, lose her appetite or have difficulty sleeping, we have been uber lucky and have not experienced anything out of the ordinary. In fact, she ate quite well last night at dinner, and at all 3 meals today. More importantly, she slept soundly last night, not coming in our room once to "snuggle" as she usually does every-single-night. My guess is that without her thumb in her mouth she can finally breathe well, and isn't startled awake due to a stuffy nose or stifled cough.

The one thing we do have to work on is her speech. She now lisps as the device takes up all of the space on the roof of her mouth where she would normally put her tongue. But hey, if this is the worst of it, I'll take it.

For Sheridan, the worst of it is that she's no longer allowed to chew gum ... or anything else that's icky, sticky, or munchy, crunchy. So I gave her a new bottle of lip gloss and am letting her put as much of it on as she'd like... which today was about 1/2 the bottle. Love those schelacked lips!

We're heading out of dodge for the next 2 days. We thought we'd take Sheridan out of her environment so she could have fun and not think about her thumb. Have a great weekend!

Before the procedure ... the anti-thumb sucking device

Securing the device with cement ... showing everyone what it looks like installed

Appearing generally unphased by the whole ordeal... unlike her mother!


Thumbsucking Countdown Part 1

Sheridan had her infamous dental appointment today. Not the one where they install the "Habit Breaking - Tongue Crib", (that's Thursday), but rather the one where they fit her back teeth with the brackets and take molds of her teeth.

Yeah... Let me tell ya... Today was a FUN day.

I brought reinforcements with me (aka daddy), and off we went to our 2:30 pm appointment at the dental clinic. It was surprisingly a quick visit, with little time to let Sheridan get too hysterical. Once we got into our exam room, she immediately sat down on daddy's lap and was laid back and ready to try on the brackets. She whimpered for a few seconds before realizing that it really didn't hurt, she just wasn't thrilled with the strange guy's hands in her mouth. Once in place, she got to see them in the mirror and remarked how they look just like her cousin Allison's braces.

We then moved on to the impressions. Matt tried to explain how much fun it would be for her to see the molds of her teeth, and how the goop they'd use would taste just like bubble gum. Just 30 seconds of it in her mouth and that would be it. Um... not really. She was fine when they put the tested the mold for size, however when she saw the overflowing bright green casting coming towards her mouth, she flipped out. Matt had to hold her arms while the dentist put it in, and keep her still until she calmed down enough to realize that under no circumstances were we going to allow her to take it out (which she sure did try to do). It honestly lasted no more than 45 seconds... maybe a minute.

In less than ten minutes in the office, they put on and took off the brackets, did the impressions, marked the brackets on her molds, explained the next steps, and sent us on our merry way. We now have a 48 hour reprieve before we head back for the final installment of the device on Thursday.

Being the good mom that I am, I snapped a few photos throughout our appointment. Stay tuned...

Before the chaos begins... fitting the teeth with the brackets

Thoroughly not enjoying the mold process



About a week ago, the Consulate got word that the Navoi Bolshoi Ballet was coming to Chennai for a Gala Medley Concert. They were putting on two performances... Don Quixote and a Medley of Classics, including Swan Lake, Spartacus, and The Nutcracker.

We expressed an interest for the Sunday afternoon Medley performance, and were serendipitously awarded free tickets for the ground floor, six rows up from the stage.

Hailing from Uzbekistan, The Navoi Bolshoi Ballet is a self proclaimed "leading centre of performing arts in Central Asia, where many famous conductors and musicians, artistes and singers have and still perform. The troupe in Chennai consisted of 50 ballet dancers and a 50 member philharmonic orchestra. It was touted as a show of such magnitude and grandeur that has not been seen in India for the last 40 years."

The ballet was held in The Music Academy Madras, a theater a mere kilometer from our house. We arrived fifteen minutes to the start time expecting to wade through the throngs of people, only to find that we were the only ones seated in our row. While we're no ballet aficionados, it was obvious that these Uzbek dancers needed a little more practice. Although the costumes were very nice, the dancing was not in sync, and there were more than a couple of stumbles... like missed staged directions, clumsy group dances, and clearly not a large enough stage to hold all the dancers. There was also a song at the end where the music played to an empty stage.

Now this would not be India without the cacophony of various cell phone rings, talking, and people getting up and walking around in mid-number. Apparently flash photography is NOT prohibited, and at times the stage looked more like an Obama press conference than a ballet. At the beginning of the second act, we had the luxury of all 100 of the ceiling and wall fans starting, each with their own individual squeak. Matt likened it to being under the spinning blades of a Black Hawk helicopter. Amazingly, none of the above noise, the music, or meager clapping stopped Sheridan from passing out and snoring through most second act or Matt from turning around and screaming at the teeny boppers behind him for their rowdy behavior.

However, our cynicism and frustration were washed away when Riley exclaimed that she absolutely loved it and wanted to go again the next day.

"Ummmmm... maybe in another 40 years."


I'll Never Be Accused of Traveling Light...

As a Stay-At-Home-Mom for the last almost-6 years, I finally decided that it was time that I bring home the bacon.


15 pounds worth....


6 packs of hot dogs.

15 packages of cold cuts; turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef

8 packs of Philadelphia cream cheese.

4 packs of sausages and kielbasa.

For a whopping total of $165 and 50 pounds. Which fit perfectly spread out in 2 different bags... frozen in 3 coolers... surrounded by 10 packs of blue ice... arriving here STILL frozen after 24 hours of traveling.

It's not that we can't get most of these things here... it's just that most of these items cost an exorbitant amount of money. One package of 6 slices of turkey costs $15. No kidding. And Philly cream cheese? $10 for 1 block!

Next trip back, we're schlepping a Butterball Turkey. Maybe 2.


Is It Cliche to Say Happy New Year on January 8th?

After 3 weeks, 4 days, 11,000+ miles, and over 24 hours flight time... we're baaaccckkk!! And strangely enough it feels pretty good to be here. Maybe it's the jet lag talking, or the flu that Sheridan caught that's kept us both housebound for the past 2 days. Either way, we're happy to be reunited with Matt and the doggie, and look forward to getting back into a routine again... at least for the next 11 weeks.

Our trip to the States was FANTASTIC - filled with visits of family and friends. As I haven't sent out any real updates, and I know it would be WAY too long to detail our last 10 days, here are some of the highlights... in pictures!

Hopefully my internet will stay connected so I can send out more frequent updates. Until next time...

By the way, Happy New Year!

December 24th ~ Rock Climbing

Sheridan did much better than last time...

Riley was a champ! She climbed to the top and rang the bell every single time!

December 25th ~ The Feller Cousins Come For a Visit

Noa, Riley, Dara, Sheridan

January 2nd - 5th ~ Off to India, by way of D.C. to Visit Friends From Oman and Israel

Friends from Oman... who we tend to visit every trip thru D.C.

Friends from Israel ... newly posted to D.C.

Virtual Sisters... Neighbors from our past 2 posts in both Oman AND Israel.
The girls have truly grown up together.

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