Wednesday, December 31, 2008

christmas 2008

We have WAY too many pictures of present-opening on Christmas Day, but the big pile-o-pictures should give you and idea of the carnage and mayhem that filled our morning. (If you click on the collage you should be able to see the pictures enlarged. Just don't look too closely at my manky, pre-shower morning hair.)

Posted by Picasa

The little picture on the top right shows my favorite present for Emily...a GIANT stuffed pig. I think I will use it more than she will. It's a great cuddle pillow.

Then we have obligatory Christmas Day pictures of the kids...John being NOT excited to have his picture taken.

And Emily being excited about EVERYTHING because she was eating at the time. Seriously, this girl can EAT. People are in awe at how much she can pack away and still be begging for more. She's also quite adventurous. She eats curries, pandan sweets (a floral-type flavoring for foods), Chinese dream it up and she'll stick it in her mouth. Oh, unless it's banana. What kind of kid doesn't like banana? My kid.

Ah, here's a more cooperative picture of John. These are his new Sunday duds from G&G Weist. He was SO excited to wear this and didn't want to wait until Sunday. Finally it came and he said "can I wear my tie????" I can't imagine we'll be hearing that phrase for too many more years.

Michael took this picture of me and made me promise to post it. If you look closely you can see the perfectly circular hickey smack-dab on the middle of my forehead. Let's just say I learned why you should never let your children play with suction cups on your face. By the way, that lasted for about 6 days. Nice.

My chronology is off here because this is actually a picture of our Christmas EVE dinner. We really like having the awesome variety of ethnic foods around and have decided the best way to make memories is go out for something fun when we celebrate holidays. It felt a little bit like "A Christmas Story" when they go out for Chinese food. Except that it's Indian food, served on banana leaves and we get to eat everything with our hands. This is our favorite thing to do with visitors when they come. You get a wide variety of tastes because there are 5 or 6 little dishes to eat with your rice. Our favorite one is some sort of pumpkin/squash creation. I think Emily ate all of mine. Guess I need to learn how to make it.
We also had naan, roti canai & tandoor chicken. mmmm.....i'm drooling just thinking about it.

I took one of Michael with the kids at Christmas Eve dinner, but it turned out I'll post this one instead and you can see what a handsome man my husband is at the end of 2-0-0-8.

John showing off another new shirt. Oh, and the guns he got. Two guesses who bought him THOSE...and if it takes you more than one guess...

This chair was technically for John (to put in his room) but they both love it so much it has ended up being sort of common property. Emily will scream at you if you try to take her out of it.

awwww...look at me! i'm almost one!!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

stolen moment of christmas joy

If you know me at all, you will know that after I saw this cartoon on A Novel Idea I was still giggling about it 10 minutes later. Michael married a dork, what can I say...

(Dang, I just re-read it after posting and cannot stop chuckling about it. I think it says something about people, the things they find humorous...what does this say about me? Am I reliving tormented memories of grammar classes in college? Probably. Am I embarrassed about it? A little. Will I print it off and stick on it my fridge this month? I'm pleading the 5th.)

Monday, December 15, 2008


I was thinking today of the things that bring me great joy in motherhood. Surprising things. Things that I had never given a moment's thought to, or considered would ever make me so blissfully happy. Here is one such example.

I never even imagined that watching my kids play together, make each other laugh, feed each other or generally have a good time together would make me so full of joy that it would literally take my breath away. I guess life's funny that way.

Also, it makes me die a little every time I see this face.

And this one.

(hilary, those are for you.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Seremban Wet Market

I thought I'd post a few pictures of the local scene out here in the countryside of Malaysia. There is an awesome wet market in the middle of the city that is located inside a giant industrial-looking building that has been gutted to make room for dozens of vendors. A wet market basically means that they sell food there...produce, meats, spices, well as textiles, flowers, and pretty much anything you can think of. My good friend Anne took me to this market for the first time to show me all of her favorite stalls. This is the lady who sold me a flat of eggs (I think there were 30...we used them surprisingly quickly and I keep wondering why you can only buy them in packs of 12 in the States?)

Here is a nice man cutting up my chicken. I have to admit I was a little squeamish to buy my chicken like this...I want my poultry completely unrecognizable and sealed in sterile, cellophane-wrapped trays with as little mess, bone, skin or other gook as possible. Yeah, I'm a weenie. So it was a new experience to watch vendors on either side of me with live chickens, just waiting for a lull in sales so they could pull one out of a crate and start hacking away.

I said he was a nice man because he actually DE-BONED my chicken for me!!! Isn't that nice. I will go back there again. And he double-bagged my chicken so the gooky one was inside a nice clean one. He also gave me the bones he cut out so I could make soup or something. He was very nice. It doesn't change the fact that I want to yell "unsanitary!!!" every time I walk in here.

And here is the nice lady that actually owns the chicken stall. (Until I learn these people's names, everyone will be nice lady and nice man because that is what I tell John..."that nice lady is going to give us some chicken"...or "that nice man took the bones out becuase mommy hates doing the busy work" that). She really is nice but I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley. She wielded that cleaver like it was a toy and she was hacking those whole chickens into tiny pieces like they were toothpicks.

Upstairs at one end of the wet market is a plethora of food stalls jammed next to each other like sardines. We had some beef noodle soup from one stall and I got a sugar cane drink from another. The picture shows the drink stall with the sugar cane leaning up against the side. I think the 3 tanks of gas (at the bottom) were for the beef noodle place next door. It is cramped, messy, a little smelly and totally busy...I can't wait to go back, it was so much fun!

Monday, December 01, 2008


This year has been exceptionally drier than last year. Last year it predictably rained every afternoon. EVERY afternoon. I would find myself itching for the warm rays, the sunny, blue skies in the morning, anticipating John waking up from his nap so we could go to the pool (you can't swim in the morning unless you're a have to wait until the sun has warmed up the water) and invevitably by the time he arose the skies would be black and there would be a torrential downpour usually lasting the next several hours. I like rain as much as the next gal but when you are stuck in a small apartment day in & day out it starts to wear a little thin. That is why we are extremely grateful to be having a dry year. It has still been raining plenty (as evidenced by the new one-inch hole that just developed in John's bedroom ceiling and has the tendency to drip continuously when it rains) but the rain has been significantly less than last year, plus we have a larger home so even if we are stuck inside all day we can spread out and not want to kill each other all afternoon.

Honestly I am really not going anywhere with this I think I really just wanted to say that the weather is nice and we hope you're not freezing wherever you are (except my mom & dad, who I KNOW aren't freezing where they are.)

So anyhoo...we had an awesome Thanksgiving with good friends and wonderful American food. Our friend Michelle managed to find & cook a fabulous turkey & I made 2 pumpkin pies, one Libby's & one from scratch. The fresh one was a big hit with the Asians (they don't like the "creamy" texture of traditional pumpkin pie) so it was worth it. I think I might make another one for Christmas. I can buy a small pumpkin for about $2 so it's cheap & easy. We also decided it was finally time to take another family picture. The last one we took was in March so Emily was all of 2months old. She looks a little different now.

And just for kicks, here is one of John & his fellow nursery kids at church last Sunday. I love how at home he looks with his shoes kicked off & that little smirk that says "yeah, I own this place."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


We had a blast this weekend when we attended the wedding reception of the son of our friend Kamala. Because of the logistics of getting to KL and figuring out what to do with our kids, we weren't able to attend the actual wedding ceremony at the Hindu temple on Friday (which is too bad because we really wanted to see what that was like!) but we did make it to the reception held the next day. The bride's family was from northern India so the wedding ceremony was done according to northern traditions. But Kamala's family is from southern India so the reception followed southern traditions. I wish our pictures could do it justice, but the lighting wasn't really condusive to picture-taking so you can't quite get the feel of the rich colors. But to give you a small taste, I got some pictures of our friends and their ensembles. Several of the women had punjabi outfits made so they could attend (except Jacy, who is actually Indian and already had a sari.) First, here's Mark & Tracy with both sporting lovely traditional Indian attire...Tracy wearing a punjabi suit and for the love of Pete I cannot remember what Mark's suit is called. But don't it look snazzy? Here's Tracy in her punjabi again, and Jacy wearing her beautiful sari. I felt so drab sitting around all of these people dressed so colorfully! This is Michelle & Curtis...Michelle, again, in the punjabi, and Curtis is actually in a Malaysian batik dress shirt. Michael & I are standing in front of the "greeting tent" where the bride & groom retired after dinner to sit in a golden swing and receive guests & their gifts (mostly cash...not a bad way to end a party, i gotta say). And here are the lovely bride & groom. She had the most beautiful red & gold dress with amazing detail. And all of the guys were impressed at the groom's white suit with gold actually looked awesome and now I'm wondering where I can get one for Michael. One of the best parts of the evening was the dancing. Obviously, I always prefer to be able to dance at a wedding reception, but this option was a very acceptable substitute: watching a troupe perform Bollywood-style dancing. No description would do it justice, you just have to watch.
I would love to post more video (we took several...of the dancers, of the waiters presenting our food - including carrying flaming skewers of some kind - and of the bride & groom entering the hall) but with my upload speed it would take me until Christmas. Oh, but I did manage to find my picture of the happy couple in the swing I was talking about. This picture should give a better idea of their awesome clothes. Check out the detail on BOTH of them. I think for our 20th wedding anniversary we will celebrate Indian style and then I can get a cool sari like this and Michael can wear the pimped-out suit. You are all invited. Please bring cash.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

some interesting things

I went to an American Christmas Bazaar yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, believe it or not. There is a group of American expats who have made this an annual event, with several local artists just there to make a buck, but also a ton of charity groups selling things to raise money for their foundation. It was really fun and there was enough Christmas stuff there to get some stockings and ornaments, but they had everything from Persian rugs to Bengali silk scarves to Chinese jewelry. I wish I had taken my camera but no such luck. I did, however, get a good start on my Christmas shopping so the kids are almost done!

On a completely unrelated note I have discovered that my 10-month old baby has a freakishly long tongue that can touch the bottom of her chin. She uses it to lick off any baby food that has dribbled out of her mouth and down her chin. Seriously, it is freakish.

Finally, I have pictures of the house--just taken today! But to clarify...NO, we did not BUY a house, we are still renters. But let me tell you it is a ridiculously huge step up from apartment living in KL.
First the side view from the road. That's our beautiful pink wall.

Next, John showing us the entrance through the front gate. Behind him is our awesome & giant covered car park that dwarfs our car and makes it look ridiculously tiny. Our car was actually IN THERE when I took the picture, but you can't see it because it's pulled all the way forward and hides behind the wall at the left.

This the side yard of our house, where John & Emily's windows look out. Perfect for soccer games! The taller tree on the right is a rambutan tree and it should be bearing fruit around April or May. Can't wait!

This is our front porch, looking toward the (open) front door on the right. Michael is talking with our wonderful landlord, Dr. Jay.

OK, I have a few of the inside of the house, but they're terrible. I think I took them the night we moved in so not only is it pretty messy but they're dark and don't show things well. But I'll post a few anyway.
This is a picture of our old family room in the apartment in KL, the main place John would run around and play.

Here is just one half of our new family room, so big all our furniture fits in the step-down area to the right and we have no idea what to do with this part. So for now it's just a fun, empty place to dump toys and run around.

OK, here is a picture of our old kitchen. Nice, tiny, claustrophobic kitchen.

And here's half of my new blasted big I had to get it in 2 pictures.

And here is the other half. I think probably about a third of these cupboards are empty. Well, now I have room to collect some food storage.

Oh, last note for today...our landlord took us out for Chinese food at a new place and.. I ate beancurd! And I actually LIKED it! That's definitely a first for me. It had a tangy, soy sauce-y flavor and I gobbled up a big chunk. I am so proud of me.
We also bought some Siew Pau (pork dumplings) at our favorite bakery today and are taking them to dinner with friends tonight. With Thanksgiving coming up next week I think it might take me that whole time to start naming all of the things we are thankful for. I should start on my list now. Happy holidays!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

recent conversation

I came home from the store last week with a new flavor of ice cream. Here is a discussion Michael & I had as we pulled it out to try some.

(Husband pulls off lid and digs in while I look on warily, grimacing slightly)
Me: ummm...i'm not sure you're going to like it.
Hubby: ugh! it tastes like rotten cookies!
Me: what? (try a bite) no it doesn't.
H: what flavor is it anyway?
(i turn lid over to show him, grinning)
H: YAM & COCONUT??!! that is disgusting!
Me: no it's not, it tastes good.
H: i was expecting chocolate.
Me: what?! why? didn't you see the picture?
H: i don't know, it just looked dark, i figured it was something chocolatey.
Me: ummm, it's purple. with white waves through it. how could you think it was chocolatey? if anything you should think it's going to be fruity. (slight pause) or at least vegetable-y.
H: that's gross.
Me: yeah, i don't think that comment helped me in this argument.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We have arrived

I have felt so naked the last 2 weeks without my blog.

We left our apartment in Kuala Lumpur to move to a small town about an hour south called Seremban. Our friend who lives out here found us an amazing house that was actually not for rent but was meant to be sold and the sale dragged along for months until finally falling through, so she convinced them to rent it out to us instead! It has been a dream come true and I can hardly believe our good fortune in securing this place. It feels positively palatial after our tiny apartment (although it was a great little place with perfect accessibility to the city center) and honestly my biggest problem so far is having TOO MUCH SPACE. Oh, no, what's a girl to do.

SO...we had to register for a phone line first, wherein our lovely Chinese friend again helped us by going into the shop and using her name, otherwise we would have paid the "skin tax" of a few extra hundred dollars. So once they set up the phone line we waited another week and the nice internet guys came today and hooked us up so now I am connected again! Phew, I feel like I can breathe again.

We'll take some good pics of the place and post them soon, but for now I thought I'd list a few things that differentiate our new house from our old apartment:

- we each have our own room...meaning i can actually shower in my own room while emily takes a nap and i don't wake her up!
- there's more storage than we know what to do with: whole walls filled with empty cupboards, a storage closet with nothing in it.
- a guest room, just waiting to be used.
- lots of gecko sightings, which is good because they eat little obnoxious bugs. although if anyone knows a medicinal use for gecko droppings let me know because i could sell it and retire next year with the proceeds. it's everywhere. ew.
- a yard outside for john to play in!
- a curry leaf tree in our yard.
- a covered car park right outside our door so i don't have to take 2 elevators, 2 long hallways and an underground ramp to get to and from my car!
- an island in my huge kitchen. again the problem with empty cupboards in there because it's so freaking big.
- a bigger, top-loading washing machine. (although there's sometimes brown water running through the pipes which leads to brown-water stains on my WHITE clothes...argh. anyone know how to get that out? i'd be much obliged if you'd leave a comment.)
- apparently frogs come up the drain pipes and push their way into houses...we've found three in our kitchen over the last week.
- we wake up to birds chirping happily in our garden (and all day as well, since there's a nest right outside the master bedroom window)

ok, that's probably enough of a list for now. we hope you are all doing well and i can't wait to check up on everyone now that we have internet again. i feel awful because i missed 2 of my best friends' birthdays (sorry, guys!! i love you!!!!!!) and couldn't even send them an email but i'm back on track now. happy november!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

feelin' the love

I officially feel totally special. Go comment on my blog
HERE and give me a good rating because you love me!

As Seen on

there is a time to dance

oh. my. heck.
have you seen THIS??!!!!!
and look who's slated to play maverick Ren McCormack.
you can admit that he's cute, it's ok.
all i know is they better be filming at the lehi flour mill.
and kevin bacon better put in a cameo.
everybody cut footlose.

Friday, October 24, 2008

tagged again!

After I got tagged twice to do the exact same post (thanks Heather & Tracy!), I figured I should get on it so here it is.


1. Chuck (funny, suspenseful AND do they do it?)
2. Pushing Daisies (death, synchronized swimming & pie? yeah, best-written plot lines. ever.)
3. Ugly Betty
4. The Office
5. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
6. How I Met...wait for it...Your Mother
7. Gilmore Girls (first show I ever watched EVERY episode of EVERY season)
8. MacGuyver (just because it's old school doesn't mean I wouldn't love to watch every episode again & again)

(this is a song from our favorite show "Chuck" that my sweet husband surprised me with by putting it on his computer and dancing with me while we is also one of John's favorite songs and when he hears the intro. he'll stop whatever he's doing and excitedly say "I know this song!" and then start dancing. the music video isn't my favorite, so I'd recommend just closing your eyes and listening.)


1. Suzi's (outdoor dive with the best satay in town)
2. Ali Babbas (Iranian joint at the bottom of our street, usually eat outside there too)
3. Bombay Spice (BEST Indian the food court of a mall, of all places)
4. Cafe Rio (how I miss pork burritos)
5. Nagasari Curry House (or any place with banana leaf curry...7 or 8 dishes served on a large banana leaf and you eat it all- including rice- with your hands. awesome.)
6. Ruth's Diner (up Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake...breakfasts to DIE for)
7. Shokudo (i think that's what it's called...dim sum place in Raffles City Mall in Singapore...we keep ordering more & more & can never seem to get enough)
8. Koryo-won (Korean place in KLCC mall, we go there for haven't lived until you've had Bibimbap. picture below.)

(photo stolen from here...the bowl it's served in is actually a stone bowl that is so hot you can mix in the egg on top and it continues cooking. drooling just thinking about it.) ok, sorry, keep getting side-tracked...on with the tag...


1. Taught Institute really on the fly and it actually turned out well.
2. Drove to a new mall FAR away and found it after only checking the map once. SO proud of myself.
3. Bought moving boxes to start packing for the move into the new house!!!
4. John decided instead of taking a nap he'd play in his room for 2 hours.
5. Finally got to watch the latest "Pushing Daisies" episode. Michael knows how much I love it so he watched with me.
6. Had an awesome inspiration for my writing group that I will be posting soon.
7. Emily stood up on her own for a full 15 seconds.
8. I had a perfect stranger give me change for parking, even went back to his car to get enough for me. There actually ARE Good Samaritans in this world.


1. MOVING!!!!!!!!!
3. No more big-city traffic!
5. Possibly at the beach!
6. Counter space in my bathroom!!!
7. Emily learning to walk!!
8. A yard for John to run around!!!
9. I'm going to stop using exclamation points now!


1. Some sort of writing job.
2. New music to spice up my library.
3. Mad home decorating skillz.
4. Access to more books! (and time to read them)
5. A guitar. With lessons.
6. To go see Twilight with my mom next year.
7. A book club to join (hmmm...may have to start one)
8. The complete Disney Music Collection

Wow, that post took me 2 weeks from the first time I was tagged, but it was sort of fun finding pictures and stuff to go along with some of the answers. I'd kinda' like to hear of anyone else's wish list, maybe a community blog-entry day of "100 Things To Do Before I Die" or something. Who's with me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

wishing i was in utah today...

Man, it's things like THIS that make me wish I were in Utah. A J.Crew sale?! What??? Oh, how I miss having a lot of clothes. Clothes that actually fit and flatter my figure. (I am not Asian and their sizing here doesn't exactly work for me.) I want flirty dresses and heels, pencil skirts, 10 styles of jeans, shoes to match every outfit and a bag to do the same. I know it's materialistic and shallow, but I love them so. Please go and buy something in my honor.

how did we get here??? (part 3)

So we were pregnant. And we had just decided to move overseas. NOT to a first-world country. After the euphoria and involuntary happy weeping from finding I was expecting a baby started to subside I went immediately to my computer and began my next segment of research--having a baby in Malaysia. I learned about the medical world in general, birthing techniques and local traditions; I found forums for women talking about doctors and costs and medication available; I found hospitals and reveiws for those hospitals, even deciding almost immediately at which hospital I would give birth.

Slightly later in the day Michael came to find me, wanting to talk and seeming almost nervous as if he were holding back words that were itching to jump out. He mumbled a little bit about how excited he was, asked how I was feeling, then paused slightly before asking,

"So does this change our decision at all? Do you still want to go?"

I swear, I almost saw him gulp as he waited for me to respond. I paused slightly as I gave him a blank, puzzled look. What on earth was he talking about?

"Change? Why would it change anything?"

I furrowed my brow in confusion while the nervousness left his face and he practically beamed.

"I just worried that with a baby on the horizon you wouldn't be comfortable taking this leap to go halfway around the world."

Silly man, he obviously didn't know me as well as he should. But to alleviate any fears I may have been hiding from him he wanted to show me some of the information he'd found online about having a baby in Malaysia. And I think it truly says something positive about our relationship that with our separate searches, we both found the exact same information and independently decided we wanted to have the baby in the exact same hospital. (This also turned out to be the main reason we chose the apartment we have been living in for the last 14 months, being less than a 5 minute drive to that hospital where Emily was born...something that came in quite handy at 1:00am when I went into labor.)

So from that auspicious beginning last July began a quick downward slope of packing our things (most of them still packed from the move and sitting patiently in my parent's garage) saying goodbye to friends, squeezing in a family trip to Mexico, barely making it to a 10-year high school reunion, and still having no idea what we were doing or where we were going. (We had found countless living options online but agreed that we wanted to see a place and surrounding area before we committed, so we got a reservation at a hotel for a week, hoping it would be long enough to find a place. It wasn't. We took 4.)

Our final decision before leaving Salt Lake was...what do we do with our things? We had just moved from a 3 bedroom house and at least ONE of us is slightly a packrat (ahem!) which meant we had a lot of personal belongings to deal with. Thankfully we were favored with an empty garage and some wonderully kind hearts willing to lend it to us. Without a home to move into upon arrival, the most prudent option seemed to be just taking our luggage and leaving the rest behind. But how do you pack for a year-long vacation? We had sort of done this as missionaries, but there is already (usually) housing set up, furnishings, an immediate support system for missionaries. Plus we had an 18 month old boy. And we were going to have another baby. Ultimately I tried to take a little of everything: a few earrings & necklaces, 2 or 3 pairs of shoes, a handful of cd's, a stack of books, about 10 days worth of clothes, about 400 diapers... I even managed to remember 1 or 2 Christmas decorations. Think about it, if you were relocating to another country and could only bring your suitcases, what would you pack? I think we ended up with a stroller, a car seat and 6 bags, including our carry-ons that housed our laptops. Needless to say our first month here was fairly miserable, compounded by the fact that we were living out of suitcases in tiny hotel rooms, living on hotel food for a month while we tried (and failed) to adjust to the humidity. It was the most blessed relief when we were finally able to plop all of our bags down in our new apartment and stretch our arms in either direction without touching anything (or anyone) else. Of course, now it's a year later and we've grown by a kid, and our 18 month old is a rambunctious 2 year old, so we're ready to stretch again. This new house will be a challenge and an adventure and we can't wait!

So there you have it, a (sort of) short version of how 2 of the world's most boring people ended up in Malaysia, having an adventure. It wasn't all that hard, but probably only because our circumstances were perfect and really the Lord seemed to pave the way for us without us really knowing why. We still don't know why, although there seem to have been major lessons learned for our family that we probably wouldn't have otherwise learned, and we still have those every day. But don't all parents? I love the fact that Michael could break out of his soul-crushing 9-to-5 and follow his dreams. I love going to church where around 20 countries or cultures are represented. I love the fact that one of my children was born outside of the US. I love that we decided not to wait to make our lives happen. I love how supportive our families have been of this endeavor. We love how easy it was to make friends and to meet people who are so free with their time and substance. And Michael loves the constant balmy weather with no snow. (I have to admit it's pretty awesome wearing sandals 365 days a year.) It certainly hasn't been without pitfalls and seemingly constant bumps in the road, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world. And from the vantage point I have now I would highly recommend it to anyone.

"TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost
- The Road Not Taken

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

how did we get here??? (part 2)

So we last left our intrepid heroes leaving on a jet plane to Asia, but I thought we would pause that scene and back up to the event leading to our actual exit from the country. We had decided we wanted to go overseas but now the question was...where? Michael was basically following London hours at the time so our first thoughts turned to England (yeah, twist my arm...I was dying to get back to the green & pleasant land of my LDS mission) so we contacted some people we knew to get an idea about housing costs, visa requirements, etc. and began planning a reconnasaince mission to find a place to live. Somehow, during all of this hunting, things stopped clicking into place and we felt walls shooting up at every turn. Our largest and most obvious obstacle, however, seemed to be the cost of living issue. We had been overwhelmingly blessed to have the funds from the sale of our house to fund this endeavor, but didn't want to see it all blown away at once just on rent for an apartment. Frustrated but still determined, we began moving away from England and fanning out to other European countries. Italy? Switzerland? Every place seemed to throw up obstacles in our path with either costs or visa requirements or work restrictions. In our discussions, we started spreading farther and farther around the globe. What about Asia? I'm sure Michael asked at some point. Hmmm...I guesssss so...I ventured, obviously not psyched about the idea. I'm comfortable with romance languages and rich, Tuscan-countryside food. A completely different alphabet makes me nervous. But we began adding Asian countries into our searching.

Finally, one sleep-elusive night while Michael was in one room working I stayed up comatose in front of the computer desparately looking for houses. Anywhere. It's a big world, people, there HAS to be somewhere we can live. At some point Michael even went to bed, but I persisted, convinced something would come to me. And it did. Somehow in the fog of the early morning, my searches took me to E-bay. People found books, machinery, electrical equipment, clothes, even cars on E-bay, so why not a place to live. I found gorgeous beach homes in Belize, tiny flats in London, even vacation homes in Thailand. Finally, I don't remember what I indicated in my search parameters, somehow a house came up. In Bali, Indonesia. It was gorgeous. It was an open-air design. It was fully furnished. It was for SALE. And with real estate prices in Indonesia and the strength of the dollar, we could have bought it outright. In cash. I almost couldn't wait for morning so I could ask Michael if we could please, please, PLEASE move to Bali!!???

He didn't need a lot of convincing once I showed him the pictures, but we did think we should learn more about Indonesia. It turns out to be not the safest place for Americans to live. Huh, go figure. The visa requirements were OK, but still not too pretty and looked like they'd be a fairly large, beauracratic pain in the arse. So we put that idea on hold and started looking around Asia. I am embarrassed to admit how deficient I was in my geographic knowledge of Asia. Sort of like how I still am with the Middle East. But after studying maps and learning the main languages of each country, the major currency, the visa requirements, the placement of capital cities and the cost of living we felt educated enough to make an informed decision. I think Thailand and Singapore were our default choices and one of them would have been our end destination if it weren't for the visa issue. Several Asian countries have the annoying habit of letting people into their country for 30 days, then asking them to leave for 60-90 days before they let them back in the country again. We thought that might be awkward if all of our stuff was in an apartment somewhere and the government of that country told us we weren't allowed to be there.

So, what about Malaysia...hmmm...well, it borders Thailand so that's Southeast Asia, nice and tropical. What else...let's see...oh! Most of the population speak English! (Honestly, where DON'T most natives speak English? Are we spoiled, or what?) Well, how about, oh, the cost of living is about 1/3 of what it is in the US, interesting. Well, what about visa requir...what? They only make you leave every 90 days and you can come right back??? Well, that would certainly be more convenient, don't you think? Hmmm...what about the church...oooh, there are a bunch of branches all around the country, mostly centered around the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Well, my, my, my, doesn't that sound intruiging?... And thus, we became hooked. It's decided then? Yes, decided. We started finding apartments online right away that looked amazing and we started getting really excited. It was at THAT exact point in our adventure that I went into Michael's office early one morning, squinting and bleary-eyed from sleep, holding a pink stick in my hand and asking him, "does this say what I think it says?" Yep, we were pregnant.

Monday, October 20, 2008

how did we get here??? (part 1)

Every time you meet other expats in Malaysia you inevitably ask each other about "your story"...where did you live before? what brought you here? how long have you been here? how long do you plan on being here? Our inability to fully answer these questions has made me think we probably need to do some explaining about "our story" and the circumstances that led to us finding a temporary home here in Southeast Asia. (Plus, I was inspired by THIS girl telling her is much more riveting and heartbreaking and well written--go read it, I dare you to not get hooked--but I need the writing practice so bear with me.)


Michael was working in the wholesale mortgage industry in Utah when I met him in 2003 and from that day on he always talked about getting out. I encouraged him, even before we were married, to follow his passion (I'd heard that phrase enough from my dad growing up to repeat it as a mantra) and make a full-time job out of currency trading, something he had taught himself years earlier. Because of his "survivalist" nature he was continually on the look-out for warning signs in the economy and not very long after we were married he became increasingly panicked about the state of the housing industry and the security of his job. We had been subsisting on our 2 paychecks while I was working, but when our first son was born and I stayed home full time, we became concerned about a 100% commission salary as well as a teetering economy. Because I am blessed to have a husband who was watching and saw the handwriting on the wall, we sold our beloved 1st home in the spring of 2007 right around the peak of the housing market and temporarily moved into my parent's house while we figured out a plan. Our original plan of Michael going to graduate school was not to be and in time our thoughts naturally turned back to his trading.

From the beginning of our marriage he had been working 2 full time jobs, one of which was during the twilight hours, so the phrase "burning the candle at both ends" applied to him quite literally. His trading followed business hours of different countries with different time zones, which required him to be awake for most of the night. I admit to resenting the amount of time he had to work, taking him away not only during the day, but also causing him to leave my side at night. I knew it was for our benefit but the strain began to be too much on him, on his health, and on our relationship. At the urging of my father, Michael somehow found the courage to leave his corporate employment in the mortgage business and turned his focus solely to currency trading. How he did that, I'll never know. I can only imagine the stress and enormous pressure of supporting an entire family and the intense worry that would come from leaving your job to pursue a dream. I'm afraid I would be immobile with fears of "what if this doesn't work, or what if I can't do this?" and what would happen to the family. But he is one amazing guy and if I wasn't sure that he could do whatever he wanted in life, I wouldn't have married him. But I did. And he can.

Although we were enjoying our sudden freedom from debt (BEST feeling in the world, hands down) we obviously couldn't live in my parent's basement forever. So once we had decided on the self-employed route we began making plans to find an apartment in Salt Lake, preferrably one with rent profoundly less than our previous mortgage. Things didn't quite seem to be clicking and we struggled to figure out our next move, when, once again, my father raised an interesting question...we knew what we wanted to do, WHERE would be the best place to do it? We hadn't looked much past the end of our noses, but he suggested getting a fresh start, away from our old routine and away from any habit Michael had developed working 2 jobs. Start a new business, start everything new. And since our biggest obstacle was the time difference (he was still working hours for different continents, which left me husbandless at night and left Michael in a foggy stupor the rest of the time), here's an idea, why not move to a time zone where you can work normal hours???

We had previously talked about moving to the east coast, which would only make a 2 hour difference on the clocks, yet 2 hours would be better than nothing. But here was an exciting prospect. Move to a different country! Live overseas! My heart leapt with joy at the thought, but-- no, it was too fun, too adventurous, too exciting to imagine. Live overseas?!?! Give ourselves whole-hearted to this project and put everything into it to make it work, and if it didn't at least we could come home with some great stories. So after a lot of discussion and a lot of prayer, thus began our first baby steps to getting out of the daily grind and into self-employment, getting out of our routine and ready for a fresh start, and getting out of Utah to...somewhere? That would be the next hurdle, although they all seemed like short, stumpy little hurdles after those major ones, and within 4 months of closing on the sale of our house we were on a plane with our 1 year old boy and 6 pieces of luggage to Asia.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

baby steps

do you ever feel like sometimes you're taking baby steps forward in life and then you have a day (or two, or seven) where you take 5 1/2 giant steps backwards? each day? yeah, i feel like that sometimes, too.

ps- incidentally, anyone interested in a kid swap? you know, you take mine and i take yours, we switch back after a couple weeks...c'mon, it'll be fun. and probably educational. for you.

think about it and get back to me.

so much world, so little time...

visited 22 states (9.77%)
Create your own visited map of The World

I found this map on another KL expat website (HERE) and realized HOW MUCH OF THE WORLD I STILL NEED TO SEE!!! It's ridiculous that we are SO close to these countries and haven't been. Of course it's not like we have unlimited resources. And it's not like we don't have two adorable children who occasionally like to scream for no earthly reason, making it particularly exciting to take them to public places like airports, and who also require copious amounts of luggage. And it's not like Michael doesn't work 24/7 with hardly any time to spare to hang out with us much less go galivanting around Asia. But other than that there is no reason we haven't been more places. And to be fair, I clicked on places where Michael & I have been separately as well as together, just to increase our percentage of countries visited. What I would love to see is a map like this of the places my parents have been...that would be a nice, colorful map. Maybe when we're their age our map will be more red...

I don't really ask much, maybe just a little red in each major world region. A trip around the world should do the trick. Anyone takers...???

OK, next, we had an emergency preparedness day for our branch so we all met up at the church with our 72-hr. kits to see if we could survive for the day. Yeah, we were really roughing it.

Some of the other participants, setting up camp around the perimeter of the church. I wonder what the neighbors thought...

I never really think we'll end up needing to use this emergency preparedness stuff while we're here, but if people keep saying things like THIS we may end up with race riots on our hands, in which case people would be wise to stay indoors for a while. Good thing we'll be out of KL and living more of the country life. I know things can get ugly with elections in the states, but I am always grateful our country was founded with "certain inalienable rights" in mind that protect us from this kind of tyranny. I guess it would be one thing if the "ruling" power here was actually founded on true and virtuous principles...let's just pray that it won't come to the point in the States where "the voice of the people doth choose iniquity" rather than good. Go Proposition 8.

On a different note...
My little Hell's Angel. aawwwwww... And her daddy, looking handsome, as always. Sorry, ladies. He's taken. This was the day we took a trip out to see if we wanted to rent a new house (YES, PLEASE!!!) and if you look closely, you can see the fence of the house out the back window of the car. That's all the sneak preview you get until November.

Oh, and just to be fair, we had to get John with the helmet too.

And one more of Emily because OH MY GOODNESS SHE IS JUST BEAUTIFUL.

Also she is fast becoming a little stinker. Within a WEEK of learning to crawl she was pulling herself into a standing position at the coffee table and walking along the length of it, and of course eating everything within sight sitting on said she supposed to do that so fast? Aren't there supposed to be like months in between big developments? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY LITTLE BABY I DON'T WANT A TODDLER YET!!! Well, at least she still likes to cuddle.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

truth is stranger than fiction

Chow Kit market #1, originally uploaded by gastronomicdiary.

I often find the local newspapers for Kuala Lumpur to be pretty hilarious, mostly because you'd never find this kind of reporting in the States. They are all basically controlled by the government and still manage to sound like tabloids most of the time. But this particular piece was too priceless not to had me laughing/grimacing in several places. Just so you know, the area they are talking about, Chow Kit, is the red light district of KL, but also an extremely popular area for outdoor markets. The tourism industry relies heavily on the a night market and a farmer's market held there regularly.
Michael waited in the car once in that area while I went into a baking shop (Bake With Yen-- I love it because I can get almost any baking necessity at wholesale prices) and a transvestite (NOT a pretty one) was eyeing him from a doorway the whole time. He was extremely relieved when I got back. Needless to say, I don't go there alone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

moms & stuff

I saw this sidebar gadget on my parent's blog, so I totally stole it.----------------------------------------------->
You can add yourself as a follower to any blog that has this and then look at their updates on your dashboard instead of visiting like 60 blogs. Nice. So feel free to add yourself because I would like to see your blog too. Thank you.

And speaking of parents, my mom just had a birthday and I didn't get to hug her or even talk to her yet (lousy time difference and even lousier internet connection- harumph.) but this was on her blog so I totally stole this as well to post on mine.

Yeah, that's right. That's my mom. She rocks.

Last news.................we're MOVING!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't get too excited because we're not moving back to the States yet. We are moving out of the big city and into the sticks. So we'll no longer be KL-ers, we'll be living it up in Seremban, a tiny town about an hour outside of Kuala Lumpur. We found a awesome and HUGE house to rent that will be cheaper than our apartment now! OK, so it's not necessarily huge, but the fact that we can all have our own rooms says 'HUGE!' to me. Plus we'll have a yard! Plus I don't have to go up and down 2 sets of elevators every time I go to my car! Plus it will be furnished! Plus we have friends that live in the neighborhood! And did I say that it was huge? I can't even talk about the kitchen without twitching in anticipation. I am ridiculously excited (could you tell?) and we put down some earnest money today so our landlords can start getting the place spic-and-span for us to move in, which we happen on Nov. 1st so you'll have to wait a few weeks for me to post pictures. So if you're heading to Asia you can stop by and stay in our house because we should actually have room for you. You can even have your own bathroom. Life is good.