My Parents Came to Chennai And All They Brought Us Was ...

... 145 pounds of food and wine!


When my in-laws left in September, they brought back two soft-sided coolers that they sent to my parents for their upcoming visit. They used every inch of them - and more! My freezer is now jam packed with ... a pound of lox, 4 dozen bagels and 10 pounds of cream cheese, Hebrew National salami, steaks, 3 rack of lamb, 3 Butterball turkey breasts, deli meat galore, Starbucks coffee, caramel sauce, and another 10 pounds of bacon.

We'll be eating well for quite awhile...



Holiday Card Photo Outakes...

I spent the latter part of the past two nights painstakingly addressing envelopes to send out our annual holiday card. It was a long, drawn out process as we have two different address books; one on the iMac and the other on the laptop, and never the two have synced. As I lovingly hand wrote the addresses, cross-checking each one on both computers, Matt stuffed cards and affixed the address labels and stamps... which seriously took as long as it did for me to address over 100 envelopes, because goodness forbid he put one label on crooked. It was a rush to get them completed as the only outgoing mail is this Thursday morning, and just one more opportunity next week to get them in the mail before the new year (the joys of having limited mail service).

Starting in the late summer we focus a lot of time on capturing the "perfect" photo. Some years it's easy... like two years ago when we went to Egypt and snapped a shot in front of the Pyramids. Other years it's difficult ... like three years ago when it took over 1000 photos to get the girls both looking at the camera, and both smiling. Matt likes photos taken in exotic places, so we usually plan a big trip towards the end of the year when we know we're in a location where we can snap "the one." My girls know that when the camera comes out, mommy means business and come hell or high water, they better smile.

This year, that clearly didn't happen. We had planned on taking the photo on our trip in September to the Taj Mahal, though if you recall, I was sicker than a dog, and spent most of my time re-living my dinner from the previous night. With time running out, and several failed attempts to schedule a road trip to take a fun family photo, we resorted to the next best thing... a photo op in our backyard.

My girlfriend came over on one very hot afternoon, and with the best of intentions, snapped away on her camera and mine. About 100 photos later... and no holiday photo to speak of. I'm secure enough to showcase a few of these photos for your amusement. I'm sure you can see why these didn't make the cut...

In the end we did take a great photo ... and the cards are in the mail as we speak. Did I forget you? Send over your address if you want a card.... time is of the essence!

"Girls... just stand there and smile, darnit!"

Mommy with her eyes closed...

Fat face, nobody looking (including the dog) and clearly about done...

Another attempt without dog wrangling...

Snarky mommy has just about had it...

At the Taj Mahal ~ Don't we look lovely?
Don't stare too closely or you may see the vomit...


Now I've Seen It All...

I see this symbol every day. Everywhere I turn it's glaring back at me... on buildings, autos, street signs. And while I understand that this symbol in India doesn't represent the same thing as it did to the neo-Nazi groups, it's still somewhat disconcerting to see. It still makes me uncomfortable.

Today in my local grocery market I saw this on the floor and couldn't help but snap a photo. No joke... this is what people are buying for Christmas!


Friday Fragments ... Sunday Edition

With the girls out of school for three weeks, I'm left with little time to do anything besides break up fights, assign consecutive time outs, scold, break up more fights, yell at one particular child to eat her breakfast... and lunch... and dinner, schedule a few play dates, work on our reading, play a little more, rinse and repeat. Thankfully there are several 'winter camps' to send the kids for a few hours each day to get them out of the house, and out of harms way!

Here's the latest from Casa de Chaos this past week...

After four months, the internet service at our previous house has finally been canceled, all charges have finally been waived, and the provider is no longer seeking legal action against me. Legal action you say....? Confused? Join the club. See, we canceled internet service with Tata Indicom when we found out that the construction on the flyover near our new house severed the internet cables in our neighborhood and it was going to take months before it would be available. Instead of putting our account on hold, we were instructed to cancel. Which we did. Only Tata Indicom didn't push the paperwork through for six weeks after we moved. So they billed us for that time, and claimed that I used their service. Which I didn't because I now lived 2 km away, and began using a newer, crappier internet service ... a mere 256 kb connection which is barely a step above dial up. And Tata called me every few days for two months demanding I pay. If only I could get them to call me as often when my internet didn't work. Frankly, they owed ME money for the weeks without service. Oh the frustration!! Here's the e-mail we received telling me that everything was waived.

Mr. Kugan: The customer requested a service and the service provider has to say YES or NO based on the feasibility of his service in the customer requested area as per your rule “ The same day”. Please copy us any prompt reply, you sent to the customer reasoning your inability to provide the service, for further

Did you decipher that the service charges I refused to pay were waived from this e-mail? I guess I'll just have to take their word for it.

Grady turned seven months old this week. Seven months, yikes! One of his top teeth has fully made its entrance, and the other has one corner through, with the rest just a few days away. He sits up on his own, pushes himself up on his hands and knees, and is even close to pushing himself up into the sitting position. Before I know it he'll be rocking back and forth, crawling, and then getting into all the girls things. Polly Pockets - you better watch out!

Hanukkah came and went this year ... without .. a .. single .. gift .. we .. ordered. Ugh. Luckily, my parents presents made it, and just like the oil that lasted for eight nights, so did their gifts... as I judiciously handed them out each night. Thankfully the girls are excited over the little things ... like one night when they got 3 funky pencils and 2 coin purses that I bought in Thailand, and a pad of notebook paper. You'd have thought I gave them iPod Nanos or something cool like that. We're still waiting for my in laws and our boxes to arrive... hopefully by the end of the week. Oh the girls are going to have one heck of a Christmas!

The rest of the week was jam packed with: a movie night at a friend's house, two afternoon play dates, Hanukkah dinner with friends heading back to the States for the holidays, Hanukkah dinner with our Havurrah group, a cookie decorating party, and another Holiday party at a friend's house. And to top it off ... today Sheridan is celebrating her 5th birthday (though her real party is in a few weeks when we can organize her huge shindig). Stay tuned to that monstrosity.


A Week of Celebrations

It was another action packed weekend for the family ... which included Riley coming down with a 24-hour stomach bug, two holiday parties, the last soccer practice before the winter vacation, a Hanukkah presentation in Riley's class, the first night of Hanukkah, taking family photos for a friend, and an engagement party for our former driver. Whew, stick a fork in us 'cuz we're done!

Here are a bevy of photos to showcase the latest ...

Sheridan's holiday party

Lighting the menorah at Riley's Hanukkah presentation

Consulate Holiday Party

Paddy's Engagement Party

Left: The processional into the ceremony. Right: Paddy

Left: Putting the engagement ring on her finger. Right: Photos with her family

I also participated in the ceremony... putting "stuff" on her cheeks, bindi, hair.

The gang with Paddy


The Latest In Indian Securty ... X-Ray Specs

Most of the hotels here in Chennai perform some sort of screening prior to entering. Some of the security techniques are Chennice, others are downright laughable... like screening vehicles with a hand-held metal detector. Duh?

I thought I had seen it all ... until I pulled into this hotel. Holy laugh out loud batman! A scuba mask? To give the guy some credit, it WAS raining...


All I Want For Christmas Is My Five Front Teeth...

We went to our first Christmas brunch last Sunday ... the first of many this upcoming holiday season. It was a wonderful morning with good food and special friends. Santa showed up as well bearing gifts for all the kids, though we were thankfully forewarned that he'd be doing so. On the way to the brunch, we feebly attempted to teach the girls a life lesson about Santa bringing gifts only to the kids who celebrated Christmas; how they should be happy for those kids, that they'll be getting their gifts for Hanukkah, and sure they could still sit on his lap for photos... yada, yada, yada. Of course it ALL painfully backfired when the four other Jewish kids there received gifts from Santa. Try explaining THAT one to a sassy six year old.

To add insult to injury, the girls complained the entire ride home about the gifts, with Riley even adding in that maybe Santa would bring her gifts when she was older if she married someone who wasn't Jewish. Um... yes, she did say that.

We had an enjoyable time, despite leaving five minutes too late. For in those last five minutes, all the kids were running around having a grand time, when Riley came up to me bawling. She finally caught her breath and opened her mouth to ask if it was bleeding. Why, yes it was. Apparently, during their game of wild tag, one of the boys ran around flailing his arms, and without knowing it, he clocked Riley in the mouth, all but knocking out her tooth. Once I cleaned up her mouth, we saw the tooth was hanging by less than a thread, and with a light tug, I pulled it out. Now it was really time to go.

In the end Riley really did get a gift that day ... the tooth fairy made her fifth visit in less than a month. And Sheridan? She opened a pack of new underwear ... in hopes that she'll decide to stop wearing pull-ups to bed at night. I told her that if she could go 3 nights without peeing in her pull-up that she could wear her new panties to bed. She was very excited, though she sheepishly asked me before going to bed if she could push it back one more day. In the less than ten minutes she had it on, she already peed in her pull up.

Photos of all the kids and their first time on Santa's lap.
L to R... Riley in 2004, Sheridan in 2005, and Grady last Sunday

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