Sunday, January 31, 2016

this kid...


It's been a LONG time since any of my kids have gotten their own posts! and mack is changing and growing so much that he needs some documenting.  
He's running around like a wild animal- but is most definitely still the baby.  We got him to sleep through the night for a SOLID week just last week.  But he's reverted back and has had a rough few nights.  We are holding out hope that it's his stuffy nose and giant molars causing him to wake up.  I mean- seriously- he's 15 months old for crying out loud.  We thought metta was bad because she didn't sleep through the night until 9 or 10 months. Mack is killing us. 

His favorite foods include avocados, hummus, eggs, bananas, and donuts.  When he's hungry- he asks for 'babas'- which is bananas- but actually means food of any sort.

He can say 'wow, oh-oh, up, dog, ball, banana, thank-you, Zeb, mom, dad, me, tree, head, choo-choo, car, and truck'.  His favorite word is truck.  He yells it ALL of the time.  He uses it to refer to any sort of vehicle.

We haven't had a child so obsessed with something since baby Zeb.  If we are in a store and mack sees a toy car or truck- he'll WIG out.  He'll shout at us- and eventually start screaming and kicking- until we either put him down and let him play- or completely remove him from view of the toy.  We found this firetruck at a Japanese thrift shop last week for 200Y (less than 2$) so I couldn't resist buying it for him. He was SO HAPPY!! it lights up and makes sounds.

 When we were in Hong Kong- we had quite the hard time at the markets.  Each time we passed a toy booth- he would freak out all over again.  Now we just carry a matchbox car or truck in my purse at all times.

Last week I sent Kent this progression of pictures from our stop at the Sunrise bakery.  It's basically baby Mack heaven.  Chocolate donuts AND it's on the flight line.  There are huge trucks, tractors, and planes.  We even get to watch aircraft take off and land.  I'm surprised he hasn't died of excitement yet.

This kid laughs a lot.  When he's out laughed me- he just moves on to a sibling. and then down the line until everybody is laughed out.  He is so lucky to have so many family members who love him so much.
 He lovest to play ball.  and also LOVES stuffed animals.  He'll talk to them and keep himself entertained much longer than he'll sit in front of the TV.  I'm waiting for him to love TV!  no luck yet.
 He also loves to give out give hugs and kisses and high fives- especially if you are his favorite school bus.  He's a walking 15 month old developmental milestone checklist.  Which is a good thing considering we were worried about hydrocephalus. Oh- and he loves to say 'Hi' and 'bye'.
 he's quite the fierce little communicator.  He tries so hard to talk to us about all of the interesting things he sees.  He's still very blue eyed- and his hair is definitely blonde.
Besides the sleeping through the night thing- we're glad to have him around.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Meru and our days on the tuk-tuks.

We stayed at an amazing Jungle Oasis called "Meru" when we went to Cambodia.  Since we were staying with so many people- and only ONE dad was watching all of our kids while we raced the half marathon- we wanted to get a place all together. This house was AMAZING.   We've now used Airbnb all over Asia and I've been impressed every single time.  Especially when traveling as a family- or large group- Airbnb is inexpensive and has so many options!

Zeb and Ike played A LOT of chess while we were there.  They had this really cool wooden chess set that the kids LOVED.  And an even cooler raised patio to see the sun rise while they played :)
I mean, seriously, look at this place.  It was really one of the highlights of our trip!  We even had wild lizards and geckos on our ceilings :)  The hammocks were lovely.  You were awakened by roosters and cambodian music playing every morning in our local village.  At night you could hear village parties and music.  It was pretty fun.  And we still had the luxury of A/C and hot water. Although- I only used cold water!! it was way too hot (with outdoor showers nonetheless) to be taking hot showers!!!

The brown building on the left is the main house with several rooms. It felt like a scene out of a movie. 
Bel and Phil were our hosts and were far away the most gracious hosts we've ever had.  Bel met us at the airport, made sure we had drivers and booked us a private chef for dinner one night.  She provided fresh fruit and bread for breakfasts and made our stay so so lovely.  I'm not sure she's ever hosted ten young kiddos before- and may never want to again- but they were so kind!!
There were two building on our compound  One HUGE  building with several rooms that housed two families- and another small little guest house.

Zeb bought his own little hammock out at the market one day (2$) and brought it back for himself.  Our kids really had so much fun on this trip.  There was a large outdoor kitchen and dining area that even included a pool table!  Now our kids want a pool table at home.  They loved it.

mack did NOT love the hammocks, He couldn't move in them.

I'm standing under the covered dining/kitchen area here looking out over the rest of Meru.

the upstairs of the large house,
 The place was just so enchanting.  and was situated right on the edge of the Angkor Wat reserve.  We couldn't have found a more perfect spot.

This was the path leading up to our place.  The little house on the right belonged to the groundskeeper for Meru.

As I mentioned earlier- one night we had a Cambodian Chef come and make us a private meal at our place!  it was so fun. and unbelievably tasty. And check out the outdoor kitchen/dining area at Meru!  Everything was so 'magical'. I felt like I was living out one of those vacations on the travel channel. Everybody should go to Cambodia.

I can't remember what all he food was called but I loved it all.  And I can be pretty picky.  that bottom left yellowy dish was fish!! and I loved it!!

this was a variety of fruits that grow in cambodia!  I'd heard of jak fruit (top)- but I didn't even know the other two existed on Earth.   The bottom right is rambutan.  The center of it is similar to a lychee fruit.  And the bottom left- I don't know!!!

The only disappointment for me was dessert.  I shouldn't be surprised anymore- but Asia doesn't do dessert very well.  The only desserts I like here are stolen from European countries.  These were banana leaves wrapping up pounded rice with coconut and nuts I think.  I don't like pounded rice.  Japan calls it mochi.  I call it gross.

One of my favorite parts of our accommodations was the daily 'Blue Pumpkin' delivery!  Blue Pumpkin was a local bakery I'd read about online before we got there.  It turned out they had free delivery service to our house!!  we ordered something ( a lot of something) every day!!  and I ate an entire fresh mango for breakfast every morning.  Vacation life is good.

I think I mentioned it in the last blog- but my other favorite thing in Cambodia was our transportation!  Riding around in the tuk-tuks was so exciting!!   and Monday was the best driver ever.  Plus- our entire family fit in one tuk-tuk.  Lots of bonding time :)  Mack was in HEAVEN.  Coming home to his carseat in Japan was not a happy experience for any of us. After 10 days of riding on laps and in tuk-tuks- he did NOT want to be buckled in.

For some reason- Monday looks so creepy in almost every picture we have.  he really wasn't creepy at all!! Zeb took this pic with the selfie stick :)

Bumping along and LOVING it.
Monday was always talking to our kids and telling them funny stories!  and loading them with tons of water!  we all stayed well hydrated :)

Here's Metta squeezing her new baby elephant so it wouldn't bounce out!!  Mack's favorite way to ride was on Kent's lap- with his belly OUT.  he was so funny about it.  I think he liked the breeze as we sped along.
Our drivers came out to Meru and picked us up every morning.
I loved seeing the countryside as we rode along between temples and sites.  
Cambodia felt SO tropical.  We were smack dab in the middle of the country- and nowhere near the ocean- but it's still constantly summer here!

My favorite tuk-tuk ride was the day we took out beyond the city of Siem Reap to a temple and then even further up a mountain for a hike to a waterfall and river carvings!  The ride out was so beautiful.
There was a little place to eat right where we stopped to start our hike.  Lunch was delicious AND we found Santa Claus.  He was napping in a hammock at our lunch spot!  mind you- this was December 10th or so- and the kids were all is the Christmas spirit- so everybody was pretty excited that Santa was taking a break HERE in Cambodia just before his big day!  I mean- he was even wearing green and red!!  it had to be him.

mack snoozed right next to him in his own hammock.

once mack woke up- he found a friend to play with.  these little boys are just ten days apart in age!   mack is so white. and has such a big head.

I really loved the food in cambodia. Most of their food isn't spicy and every single time we went out- I'd order a fresh fruit shake.  mostly a smoothie with fruit milk and ice.  They were only a dollar.  Here- I got a carrot shake! I loved it.

The U.S. really needs to step up their drink game.  Asia has so many exciting and different flavors of drinks. Fanta comes in every fruit flavor imaginable.

we ate this dish at a different restaurant- but it was too exciting not to take a picture. It was caled the volcano.  You cook your food on this 'grill' over coals.

The hike was pretty hot! but also- pretty awesome.  We passed a group of tourists on their way down- and they told us we were crazy for taking such a long hike with as many kids as we had- in Cambodia.  It wasn't THAT bad.  But it was long and hot!!!

These jungles were full of hanging vines and wild sounds.  My kids don't even realize the adventures they are having.

the river carvings were pretty impressive.  Who carves a riverbed?! and this much of it?!  It must have been ridiculously tedious work.

 Metta was very unlucky and stumbled upon a log covered in crazy mean ants.  the covered her arms and hands and bit her like crazy.  she screamed like she was being sawed in two.  I felt so bad for her!!  luckily- the sting didn't last long and the bites were very small. Plus the hiking distracted her.  Here she is with her friend, Tyce.  They share the same birthday (feb. 28th) 3 out of every 4 years :)

the waterfall at the end made it all worth if for the kiddos.
Look at Mack.  He was so happy!!!

and look at this super cool snake we found along the way!  I feel like all the zoos I've ever been to are full of animals that are found in 'southeast asia' somewhere.  so it was pretty fun to see some of the animals and be in the southeastasian jungle!!  this thing was probably very poisonous.  who knows?!

our kids really are such troopers.  People always ask how they do when we travel. And really - they do quite well.  Especially considering how hard we push them!! we do a lot when we vacation :)

On our way home from the hike- we stopped the 'Cambodia Landmine Museum'.  We live in such prosperity and comfort and ignorance.  This place was humbling and eye opening.  Cambodians have- until very recently-lived in such fear and turmoil.  They still live in widespread poverty.  After nearly 3 decades of war (most of those years during my lifetime) the country has been ravaged by violence, war,  and landmines.  Most of the landmines here have been cleared- but there are currently more than 40.000 amputees in the country currently as a result of the mines set up mostly in rural areas of the country.  They estimate there still may be 4-6 million mines and unexploded ordnance still in the country and will take 10-20 years to clear at the current rate.
1/3 of the victims of the mines are children who stumble upon the explosives and don't know what they are. Reading the stories these people was so sombering.  We met MANY amputees during our week here.  Some were selling books, others playing in bands to earn money, and others begging for anything to help.  

I'm glad we could visit the museum.  It's good to recognize and learn about the bad in the world.  I think it builds my resolve to be better. It also broadens my perspective on humanity.
Ours kids were pretty tired at the end of this day!
this little boy was so excited to play with us!

until Mack tried to get on his bike!!  he didn't want my little pale monkey anywhere near his bike!! after mack's repeated attempts to climb the bike- the boy took off.
The last few pictures in this post are some of my favorite.  When we landed at the 'Kingdom of Cambodia- Siem Reap airport' and drove through the little village to our place- I was so excited.  Cambodia is like a place out of a Geography or history book.  Seeing new places and meeting new people (and eating new food!) are probably my favorite things to do in this world!! 

We spent several mornings exploring our new neighborhood and meeting some of the neighbors.  It was all stunning.

these are the roads leading from house to house and connecting small neighborhoods.

water buffalo graze out here in the rice fields.
the people working in their houses and preparing breakfast were kind and friendly!  almost always waving and smiling at our children,

these little kids were so excited to meet us! and were so kind.  The one little girl was skeptical the entire time were talking to them and taking pictures.  when we showed her the pictures- she held the same little scowl.
These little boys were so much fun.  The people live mostly by the sunlight.  Kids are up early working and playing in their yards- and the day ends as soon as the sun goes down!
the skeptical girl was my favorite.  Her face is the best.

We talked to our kids a lot about how we live compared to how many people around the world. Without pointing out the glaringly obvious difference- we tried to help them see how fortunate they are to have the things they have. But- I'm not sure they really understood.  Zeb told us how cool it would be to live like these kids- always having places to explore and just being able to run around with no shoes all the time!    In some ways- he is totally right.  I think these kids were happy.  But I don't think our kids (or we) can comprehend what it's like to be hungry regularly- and to worry about landmines or near complete lack of health care.    Without getting too sappy- I just have to say that these people are no different from us.  We just happened to be born into a stable and abundant circumstances while they were born here.  It's good to have these experiences to remind me just how lucky I am- but also that I am no better than any other person.  We are all children of God.