Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Easter

The Easter Bunny arrived in Palm Meadows very early after Mommy's party and we had to stay in bed until 9:00 but it was worth it. The Bunny brought us colored eggs, and real and true baskets filled with chocolate, candy and the best of all 8 inch tall chocolate retention of itself,we are way blessed~!
It did not end there OH no. We were scooped that the bunny had way to many candies to carry all the way to our house so the Bunny dropped them at our neighbors Abhi, Amber and Roshens house. So about five families and at this point who is really counting adults, and 7 candy seekers descended like crazed chocoholics.

The alarm was sounded Wade manned the door and without any further fanfare he released the hounds, kids I mean, candy seekers, sugar junkies and non- breakfast eaters, no matter, we were on the hunt. And what a glorious hunt it was.

Plastic eggs never before seen in Bangalore were hidden strategically around the yard or small area with grass that some homes have and others don't, I mean what is up with that? Any way back to the hunt. Eggs and glorious chocolate along with M&M's and actually gems jelly bean like things, all was right with the world.

The adults then interceded and we were off to the Taj West end for a remarkable Easter Brunch. The reservation was for 25 but being my Dad knows half of Bangalore and my Mom the other half we ended up with about 3.5 million people, actually there were only about 35 but when you are 4 and can only count to 20 skipping the number 13, that is alot of people.

We had a great Easter and hope you all did to. Remember my birthday is coming up right after Uncle Brian's, Uncle Jim Fellows, Mom and Dad's anniversary, Mommy's birthday and then July 10th, MY birthday, so it is real soon. I would like to offer a birthday present suggestion, just do not tell my Mom and Dad, the suggestion would be Chocolate, in any form just raw or in the form of a bunny, large version of the Taj Mahal ,the continental United States you get the picture, right?

Happy Easter,

Love ,Kay

Introducing the new Director

Of Business Services for Target India, Tracy Murphy!!!!

It is with great pleasure and pride that I say congratulations to Tracy for her outstanding accomplishment. Not only is she a dedicated Mother and a fabulous wife she has proved in her drive and ambition that she is a very capable worker.

She endured a total of 12 of interviews,2 Psych tests a live simulated strategy meeting, along with a trip back to Minneapolis to interview with the CEO and not only survived she was strongly recommended and therefore is now Madam Director.

So it was without future prompting that the kids and I planned and through Tracy a promotion party. We had the house decorated in true Indian fashion with lights, two bars, a fully catered meal for the small crowd of 75 well wishes, both from work and our friends whom arrived to congratulate Tracy.

The rain was relentless however Saravana ands Raj both assured us it would not rain that night and it did not. We had the terrace all decorated with tables and lights and even Target Brand table cloths to which Saravana exclaimed, " Tom this place has become grand" And a grand night it was.

Tracy's Aunt Lynn, another outstanding person had this to say "You have been in my thoughts lately because of the wonderful news of your promotion, I am so PROUD of you! Believe me, I KNOW what a significant accomplishment this is and I am really impressed. Any and every woman who achieves this level of accomplishment is not only doing something at a personal level, but is serving as a role model for other women. You are showing them that it is possible to be rewarded for hard work and genuine ability. I know this will bring you personal gain, but I hope it also brings you tremendous satisfaction. You deserve it all!"

Jimmy,Kay ,Billy and I are all very proud of Tracy and as the kids always say this time of year as Mommy gets ready for her annual 150 mile bike ride, the MS150, she still needs pledges by the way, GO Mommy Go!! We Love You!!!

For all of you whom missed the celebration in Bangalore have no fears because we will be back this June and will have a celebration at our house in Golden Valley more info to follow....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Favorite Things

To the tune of, My Favorite Things:

Raindrops on Mango's and noise from the blender

Billy announcing I have to go Potty

Brown colored packages where they belong

These are a few of my favorite things

Creamed colored chapatti and fresh made nan

Spencer's and Spirits and lunch at the Leela

Billy announcing I have to go Potty

These are a few of my favorite things

Kids out of diapers during the daytime

Old Monk and mango in tall clear glasses

Billy announcing I have to go Potty

These are a few of my favorite things

When the kids scream

When the power goes

When I haven't a clue

I simply remember my favorite things

And then I don't feel so bad


Yes it is true as of March 21st, 2008 William Francis Kim Murphy has cast aside the daytime diaper for his new Lighting McQueen big boy underwear. For all you you keeping score this means we are one step closer to getting a new dog, God help us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St. Patick's Day

Erin Go Braugh !!

The Irish contingent of the Overseas Women’s Club was in high gear this past week as preparations for the big St. Patrick’s Day Gala were under way.
The venue was the Taj residency and the turnout was well, Grand.

Tracy and myself along with Angela, Wade and Petra were decked out in our St.Patty’s Day attire and Saravana was prompt and we were off. The evening started out literally with a bang as the skies opened up and the rains came. "Hey were did we go, days when the rains came, down in a hallow playing a new game? Skipping and a jumping ,Oh by the waterfall, with you…." sorry.

Now these were no ordinary rains ooh no. Having become old hands at living in Bangalore, we all knew these rains were inevitable. We also knew that this meant mangos. Yes, yummy tasty lovely Mango’s!! We were all excited as we talked about how busy Raj our cook would be over the next few weeks making us Mango drinks. In the middle of this levity, BANG a bus actually hit us.

How could this be we were not even moving? On the contrary we were sitting still on the Martihalli Bridge, inconceivable. Of course Saravana blew a gasket and put the van in park and got out and starting yelling at the driver who claimed that we hit him. Saravana of course would not let it go and finally got back in the car looking somewhat a kin to a drowned rat! Turned out this was a Government bus and we had to just forget about it and the incident, which is somewhat easy to do, when the vehicle in question is not yours to insure.

Back to the party, sort of. The rain along with bringing mango brings traffic jams. What normally should have taken us about 30 minutes took a wee bit more than 60 minutes but we made it. Now I found it quite funny that when we arrived to the St. Patricks Day party that the welcome drink was a glass of pink non-alcoholic punch. Ironic. There were a few people there and I will not name names who were aware of this small oversight and came prepared with small bottles of what we called in the younger years “ spike” for the punch, you have to love the Irish!

There was a spread of great food from, Guinness Stew, Irish stew potatoes and Salmon cakes and yes we ate too much. The festivities included many different games on was a quiz and several people were not paying any attention to question number 10, I know as I was grading the quizzes. There was a contest to name several “photos” of Irish people and or games. There were a total of 30 questions with three teams (tables) getting 27 rights. Our group from Target ended up with a whopping 11 correct earning us the “ bobby” prize.

The evening wore on and one of our friends, Paul, even produced a bottle of green food coloring and the Kingfisher became green! What would a St. Patrick’s party be with out off key Karaoke.

The group continued on as Shane O’Neill was in constant discussion with the hotel security as they tried to close the bar at 11:30. Shane was heard saying “ now you go down to the lobby and tell the police that this is an Irish party and may very well go into the wee hours of the morning. Now be a good lad and fetch me another pint on your way.”

Oh, question number 10 “ How many calories are there in a pint of Guinness?” Answer? Well there are two really one being, who actually cares and the second being 198, you choose.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Even my vacation/dreams have a sound track!

The LoudAmericans ventured out with the Wacmillers and Wherearethefischers for a long weekend in Kerala. Not sure that I would call 6 adults and 6 kids 6 and under in a TT bus a “vacation”, but it was an adventure. We had 4 days and 3 nights planned to cover the whole coast of Kerala – Trivandrum, Kanyakumari, Alleppey and finally Cochin. When I told this to my friends at work, they all said “YOU ARE CRAZY”. Well crazy we are, so off we set.

Now to set the stage, this trip is meant to be a final going away trip with the Millers before they head back to MN and for an added bonus, Bob turned 38 while we were together. Too many things to celebrate and not enough time. However, I was not feeling good and I think I win the “bitchiest Mom of the year” award for at least 2 if not 3 of the days of our trip. However, the kids were in heaven, they each had another kid their “same” age and Kay even had a girlfriend to play withJ The bus we were in had a TV and CD system. Our music/movies of choice? Since we are Americans, the greatest hits of ABBA, Brian Adams and the BackStreet Boys, played over and over and over again. After 6 mind numbing hours of this, we decided to watch a movie or two… Our choices here? Old James Bond, including Dr No and the Man with the Golden Gun. I have to admit, I have a new found respect and appreciation for the Austin Powers movies now. Wow, I really missed a ton of the jokes in that movie. Needless to say, I used the time on the bus to fight with my kids, sweat and sleep.

I digress… back to our adventure… Trivandrum is the very tip of India where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and The Bay of Bengal meet, southern most point in India and a hell hole. We basically drove for 3 hours to get out and realize, there is NO beach, NO parks, NOTHING for 6 kids under 6 to do other than roll around in the grubby dirt. We did climb the tower to look out over the oceans but the wind was so strong it blew Grayce’s hat off and caused a crying fit because “her grandmother gave me that hat and even took it to Thailand with me”. I don’t blame her at all actually, I was feeling like crying at this point too. Bob, however, was the hero, fighting waves and wind and garbage floating by the shore to save the day and save the hat. After an adventurous 30 min’s site seeing trip and restroom break, we packed it back into the bus for the 3 hr + trip to our 1st overnight stop Kanyakumari. How was the stay you say? I honestly cant remember and don’t have any recollection of our room. Not sure if this is a good sign or not… Too much fun or not enough…Did I mention that I wasn’t feeling well this day, or is it obvious in my description?

We got up early on Sunday and off we went to Alleppey, now this is WAY more our speed. The cabin’s were very quaint Kerala style (open air bathrooms, sort of cool) with mosquito netting and the like. It sat on a peninsula overlooking the backwaters and had gorgeous flowers, great food and a pool. We spent the day on a houseboat, slowing moving past more flowers, villages, villagers, eating fresh seafood, drinking white wine/beer and “fishing” with the kids. Think of it as India’s version of a day on the pontoon in MPLS summers. Relaxing, fun for the kids, great conversation and family bonding time. We docked in time for some serious swimming in the pool an early dinner followed by kids passing out and adults sharing a cocktail while we watched the lightning bugs. I was feeling better this day and was considerably less bitchy (Angela and Chandra, feel free to disagree if you’d like). I awoke, during this blissful peace and quiet to the sounds of a full on orchestra/chorus calling morning prayers for about 30 min’s at 4:30am. My 1st thought… wow, even my dreams have sound tracks now….

Monday morning we had a leisurely breakfast which included an off key rendition of Happy Birthday follow by chocolate cake for Bob. While the setting was beautiful, the ever present lake with 4 kids who don’t know how to swim was starting to take its toll on me. Plus, I wanted to get to the other resort in Alleppey as it has A BEACH!!
After chasing butterflies in the butterfly garden, we pack it up into the bus for more ABBA and our quick trip to the next resort.

This resort ROCKS!! There is a sand beach, large swimming pool, 2 beach side bars, badminton, tennis and a SPA. I am in heaven already and wonder why we just didn’t come here 1st and save all the trouble… Next time. The girls ran off to make Spa appointments, Tom and I ventured to the local munie for wine and the boys “supervised” some controlled chaos. We met up for lunch and all hell broke loose. Kay and Billy refused to eat, started to squirm and basically be as naughty as they could over lunch, in front of 20 other adults trying to vacation. I lost it. Kay was on 3 separate time outs during lunch including one in the bathroom. I finally gave up force feeding my kids and took Kay back for a nap. Billy soon joined. I had the privilege of fighting them for 2 hours to take a nap. Finally Kay declares “I have to poop” and boy does she ever. I get her back into bed and Billy announces “I have to poop” and boy does he ever. I am not even back from my 2nd pooping trip and Kay is passed out cold. Followed 5 min’s later by Billy. I guess when you have to poop, you not only have a pain in the ass, you are a pain in the ass. So, while Tom was with Jimmy at the beach riding the waves, I was sitting in our room doing Suduko. Did I mention that I don’t feel good this day either? Her royal bitchiness has arrived.

In case you think the whole weekend was a bust, things do get better. Kay and Billy awake, happy, go lucky, cooperative and ready for dinner. All 5 kids eat without so much a peep (Caden has passed out on his own at this point and is enter hour 2 of the next 12 hours he’ll sleep). There is a HUGE swing and they are playing tag, giggling and basically being really fun to be around. Jimmy and Grayce had their 2nd date – dinner by candlelight by the poolside. We tried to ease drop on their conversations and they were quite cute. As it turns out, this is all part of Grayce’s master super secret spy plan that she has hatched and tried to recruit Owen into. We found this note in her backpack “Super Secret Plan – Have Owen help me to make sher Jimmy falls in love with me”.

We get the kids tidied up from dinner and back to the room for the babysitter. Yes, its our last night, Bob’s birthday and we are at a great seaside resort with fresh seafood, DAMN IT we are getting a sitter and having an adult meal. Even though this resulted in a call to our table from the sitter, with a confirmation from Jimmy “yes we are very wild” it was well worth it. Chandra exclaimed it was “the best meal I’ve had since I’ve been in India”. It was fun, relaxing and the music divine. The guitarist was channeling Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Bob Denver, Judy Garland and the most romantic of all … The Monkeys. At one point, we were all singing along and I’m sure the other guests where hoping we’d bring the kids back out just to round out the experience.

The next morning was a challenge to figure out how to squeeze as much time as possible in at the pool, order lunch to go and leave at the absolute last minute for the airport. I should have known the plan was inauspicious when the sandwiches “to go” showed up on china plates. But, this is India, so you adjust. And we adjusted our bill, our lunch, our bus and our payment until we finally reach the airport early only to find our flight delayed. UGHH!!! The silver lining… The Kerala airport is impossibly clean by Indian standards and has a TV dialed into Cartoon Network and Discovery Channel. I love TV!!!

So, we are back, home and grateful for my own bed and choice of music. I do think the kids had a great time and I hope that the adults can forgive me for being a bitch.

And, no, I don’t think Jimmy is “in love” with Grayce, but he sure loves having her as a friend. I cant wait to pull these photos out at their rehearsal dinner….

A day in the life of Tom

The continuing story of a stay at home Dad and what he does...

Trying to surmise what happens on a daily basis is not something I can do as Tracy and the kids have somewhat of a fixed schedule I have more of a fluid one like today.

I was up after Tracy as she headed out around 6:45 for a run, I meanwhile was up around 7:00 to get breakfast stared and to iron the daily clothes allotment so as I could get Jimmy up early to finish the homework he did not complete the night before. Surprisingly he was in good spirits and by 7:30 home work done, was eating 4 pieces of french toast and a half a pound of bacon when Tray returned. While Tracy was getting the lunches ready I set upon the task of getting Kay and Billy out of our bed, again, and down stairs for breakfast and then ready for school. Saravan was on time and with little fanfare the kids were off.

While Tracy was getting ready for work I had breakfast and planned my day. My hopes were to go to the gym, have Hindi lessons go to the store and get the groceries have lunch and then a nap and get the kids dinner Tracy would come home early we would have dinner and get to bed early, sounds easy right.

The gym was fine, had to leave early as Raj, our cook, called and needed some things to make lunch and dinner. I went to the ATM to get some money and my card no longer worked? We have an Indian Citi bank account with plenty of rupees and a December 2011 expiration date , what was up? Being in India I figured it was the ATM that was the problem so I proceeded to the store and got what I needed and they could not take my card saying it was no longer valid, what? They allowed me to take my supplies and pay them later. I got home and Rajish my Hindi teacher was there and wanted to use my hour to grill me about potential customers and did I know Alex and is Alex a boy or girl? Could I help him expand his base here in Whitefield or Bangalore itself, you know a lot of people right. Rajish then was interested in American slang finally I said wait , you need to teach me today and then the kids arrived and the "Hindi" lesson was over? What happened?

Then several of the Charities I work with called wondering when I was going to deliver the allocated funds from the OWC and I had to spend an hour figuring out when where and how meanwhile I received an e-mail from the facilities people at Target instructing me to go online and register my family as travelling foreigners so the US government could keep an eye on us and e-mail us pertinent information. Not to mention that I was broke and unable to contact Citi bank because the card number is invalid in their telebank system and there is no other number to reach them by. Fortunately I had the mobile number of the banker who took 6 months to set up our account in the first place so I called him. After 7 unanswered calls he finally answered and informed me it was Citi Bank's problem to which I replied that was why I called him. He responded with " Sir that is why it is Citi Banks problem not mine I have left them and no longer work there". I asked for the branch number he used to work at and he told me they do not have a phone there." WHAT

Off to the store figuring I would persevere and get our supplies. The first store was closed for remodeling and the next did not receive inventory. Finally in a defeated status I went to Frosty's our local fish and meat market and bought $75.00 worth of meat, that's right just meat and paid with our World Perks Visa getting not only an additional 3% service charge but World Perks miles as well! And finally crossing one thing off my list.

The website for the US consulate is like navigating a rural road in Coorg, India which means impossible to do with out sever damage to your vehicle and self included, try it . Go to Travelregistration.state gov, those last two words should have warned me. PSA, do not use any blank spaces. How come I have not heard back from Citi Bank. OH Christ Raj and Florence are leaving Saravan is asleep on the couch and where did Jimmy and Cody go? God bless Raj he made me tea maybe a moment of peace and quiet. Doorbell rings and it seems an altercation with Jimmy, Cody and the neighbors. Cody goes home and Jimmy gets a time out. Kay and Billy are banging on their door, their nap is over mine is a fleeting memory.

Kay suddenly decides that the artist in her must come out where are the paints? Honey we only have watercolors no paint, OK where is my plate. You see she likes to take a dinner plate and put colors on it and use that as her palate which essentially ruins the plate, we are down to only two plates that match. Kay has paint everywhere and has managed to staple party hats to paper plates announcing that these are special and must be used in the bubble bath scheduled for later this evening. Billy is proud that he can now go poopy and potty all by himself and proceeds to constantly do so. It is of no help that for the last day he has eaten only beets and therefore, well you figure it out.

I then received the following e-mail from Citi bank:Many thanks for the mail.
We request you to kindly share the Suvidha account number for us to check Status.

And then:

In receipt of the below mail, we confirm the fresh card has been issued on the 11th march and is dispatched to respective mailing address.
The relevant pins also been dispatched to the below mentioned communication address
Kindly confirm the Receipt of the same.

My mobile phone the chimes as I now have a message: In the car. Which means Tracy is now on her way home and I can not wait. The kids finally have worn out their need to be an artist a drummer and an auto repair man and it is time for the previously mentioned bubble bath,. Jimmy is out of the dog house and instead of a bath opts to do part of his homework for 15 minutes of computer time. Kay and Billy do the bubble bath dance and up we go. The tub is filled the previously made special bubble bath pieces of art are absent and the bath goes on. I have mentioned that my blood pressure rises slightly during this event as the kids tend to get more water out of the tub than in but this time miraculously they are cooperative., Kay announces it is time to get out and pulls the plug. The drain promptly clogs and the entire tub is emptied onto the bathroom floor...My mobile phone chimes again..over the bridge Tracy will be here in 10 minutes where are thing one and thing two when you need them?

The kids and I great Mommy at the door teeth are brushed and Tracy takes them to bed while I get dinner ready.

We sit down to eat and Tracy ask's so how was your day...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Home again Home again Finney Finn Finn

I am on the long long journey home. Its amazing how a crazy busy week in MN lends itself to passing out from exhaustion on the plane:)

I am on a MPLS to NY to Dubai to BGLR adventure. The flight from MPLS to NY was relatively uneventful. NW plane full of tall Norweigian Lutherns. Nice and quiet. I even took a nap!

Welcome to NY-JFK. This is an amazing airport, the diversity you see is absolutely amazing! I would probably even enjoy it more if I didnt have a 6 hr lay over. No worries, I was playing with the idea of grabbing the subway and heading into the Big Apple. I mean, heck, I have taken 8 kids and 9 adults on the subways of Seoul with no casualties and I dont even speak Korean! I mean, how hard could it be? I am American, I speak English, I have lived in India for 18 months. No problem, right?! Well, I chickened out. I start thinking about the 100+ emails in my Outlook, the fact that I havent spoken to my family during THEIR time zone in 18 months and the VERY VERY nice Emarites Business Class lounge. Luxury & work wins out over adventure so I spend 2 hours working, 3 hours chatting with family and an hour getting caught up on US politics while eating Filet Mingon, shrimp, bachlava and chocolate covered strawberries. Did I mention the full bar of GREAT wine and tasty champagne? Yes, all I need is a sun lamp and this is practically vacation!!

The flight to Dubai is awesome. They have 180 degree reclining beds, 150+ movies on demand, massage "zones" in the chairs and a never ending supply of big beefy cabs. Too bad I am too tired to enjoy any of this. I sleep for 7 hours. (For those of you who dont consider this luxury, read my day in the life blog. You'll realize any span of 7 hours of sleep that doesnt include a 3 yr hogging the blankets is practically nirvana). I wake in time to catch 1 movie and breakfast. "Enchanted". Angela, I wish I had bought you this movie. I LOVE it!! Holy cow was it a fun diversion.

Now I find myself in the Dubai airport for a 2 hr layover. It is probably the NICEST airport I have ever been to. Really. NY-JFK I now realize is white bread America Disneyland compared to this airport. The diversity and color and change blows your mind. There are sheiks, Indians, Eygptians, Israelis, Africans, Europeans, Asians...Just walking around I see flights to Kuwait, Tehran, Kubal, Mumbai, Islamabad, Bangkok, Karachi, Colombo, Muscat. I dont even know where 1/2 of these places are on the globe. Add to it, shops like Cartier, Hermes, TagHeuer along with gold gold gold and electronics. Everyone has the best, state of the art laptop and cell phone (make that Treo) Its humbling to be an American here. I feel so unworldly and unaware. This place is an amazing mix of East meets West and the wealth is unlike anything I have ever seen.

So, I am biding time, writing my blog and thinking about another glass of red. Yes, Tom, I did get 2 bottles of nice wine. I know you would probably choose better or differently, but I did my best.

I cant wait to get home, hug my kids, kiss my husband, gossip with Angela and sleep in my own, hard as a rock, but all my OWN bed.

Love to everyone!!!!