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.

Monday, October 13, 2008


There were so many cockroaches at the grocery store today that I had to leave. How am I expected to buy produce like that? I just had to get that off my chest.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

random stuff for today

(Sidenote: my old roommates and i used the word "random" so much, thanks to apryl!, that we made up our own sign language sign so we could do it without other people knowing what we were saying. yeah, we were really cool in college).

OK, first, I would like to declare my love for all things youtube, and second I thought I'd share a clip I found of Diana Krall singing "A Case of You" that I fell madly in love with at her concert. I think this is actually a performance in Paris, but you get the idea.

*sighhhhhhh* it's so haunting i could listen to it all day...

Second, thanks to Alissa for nominating me for some kind of blog award. I know they're as common as fruit flies at a Malaysian market but it still gives me warm fuzzies that she loves me.

Last, my friend Tracy tagged me for a *quirky* post so here's how it goes:
- Link to the person who tagged you (check)
- Mention the rules on your blog (in the process of checking)
- Tell about 6 personal quirks
- Tag 6 fellow bloggers to do the same
- Leave a comment to let them know

So here's some quirky stuff you may or may not know about me...

1. I am obsessed with plucking. Just ask anyone who has lived with me. (yes, lisa, i still the way, i blame casey. she introduced me to it in high school and i've never been able to quit. you should pay for my recovery, case.)

2. I like to know the exact definitions of things so I know I'm using them correctly and in context. I even looked up "quirky" before doing this post. Yes, I am a nerd. Also, is my friend.

3. If I am dancing anywhere near a mirror, I have to watch myself in it. Mostly to verify just exactly how big of a dork I am making of myself. I only realized this recently when I noticed John watching himself dancing and I realized he had seen me do it.

4. I can eat a whole 9x13 pan of Gooey Bars in a day. That's not really a quirky thing about me, just something I did this week that I'm slightly ashamed/proud of.

5. If I could only eat one item of food for the rest of my life...right now I'd say Mango Sticky Rice. That's what I had for lunch. My addiction is getting out of control. Someone please send help.

6. (This one is Michael's contribution that he thinks is hilarious) I make up nonsense phrases to insert into my vocabulary when I get frustrated and feel like cursing but don't really want to swear... his personal favorite is "sheesh-a-lu!"

OK, so there's the fulfillment of my tag. I now have to tag 6 other people:
Mitzi (yes, this means you'll have to do more than ONE post on your blog)
Honestly, I don't really expect anyone tagged to have to do this, but it's sort of like a modern-day chain letter and I'm afraid I'll develop warts or something if I don't fulfill it, so now I wash my hands of it and leave the warts to 6 others. Cheers.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

a few of my favorite things

Some of my favorite things that happened in the last 24 hours:

-John & Emily sitting together underneath the kitchen table. John is reading to Emily. Suddenly he shrieks little a girl, "AH! Emily leaked on me!" as he frantically tries to wipe her drool off his leg.

-John showing Emily his "letters" website and playing the song for the letter T over & over because, and I quote, "Emmy like that." (Also, when he is speaking sternly to her, he pronounces her name "Emil-YE" and it is adorable.)

-Instead of screaming like a banshee at Institute, as is usually the case, John just wanted to cuddle in my lap.

-I got a new phone with a touch screen. With the exception of my laptop, I've never owned anything so technologically advanced before. Welcome to the 21st century to me.

-A five year old taught me how to count to 10 in Bahasa, but I already forgot.

-Eating authentic Thai Mango w/ Sticky Rice from a tiny Thai woman at a tiny Thai stand at a mall. How I love those Thai people and their mango rice. Will be going there again. Often. (ps- mom, she had a special peeler for her mango and used a machete to neatly and quickly cut it into chunks for me. i'm going to learn how to do this and we will all eat mangoes for the rest of our lives.)

free stuff

in lurking around on other blogs i find lots of cool give-aways and stuff. THIS is one of them. what girl couldn't use another bag??? brilliant marketing. brilliant i tell you. by the way, i can win basically NONE of these give-away thingies because who is going to ship stuff to asia? so if you're super nice and leave pretty comments on my blog and promise to love me forever, i will have stuff shipped to you if i win. you're welcome.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

happy 35!!!

Last week we went on a late birthday date for Michael to a Diana Krall concert. We have a wonderful babysitter named Shirley that John loves immensely (every time she comes over he runs ecstatically to the door and jumps into her arms for a hug...I think she likes coming here too, what do you think?) and thankfully Emily recognizes her and likes playing with her as well. She still doesn't do so well with other people feeding her but it's getting better. Sort of. A little. Anyhoo...

I love any excuse to get dressed up and out of my spit-up-covered-diaper-smelling clothes so I put on a nice dress early in the day... that's usually the nicest way for me to tell Michael: no shorts tonight. He's had his eye on this Chinese restaurant at the Pavilion mall called DRAGON-i for a while (yes, that's really the name, don't ask me why) so we decided to give it a try.
A close-up self portrait of the handsome birthday boy and his adorable wife:

This dish was AWESOME. I think it was called "Hot Chili Dim Sum with Ground Meat" or something vague like that. Whatever it was it was amazingly sweet and spicy and piping hot and a savory little piece of heaven.

Unfortunately, this one...not so good. Spare ribs that were tough and dry. Too bad, they look pretty.

There are always the most interesting things on menus that we wish everyone could enjoy. Even if you'd never eat it you'd at least get a kick out of looking at the pictures and descriptions. For example, on the dessert page, we had these fine offerings:
  • Barley Beancurd Skin Soup with Gingko & Quail Egg

  • Lotus Seed Sweet Soup with White Fungus & Gingko

  • Sesame Dumpling with Ginger Soup

  • Black Jelly & Red Bean in Coconut Milk
(yes, that's right, i said the DESSERT page. white fungus, anyone???)
We also get to try some refreshing (sometimes good, sometimes not) beverages:
  • Watercress Honey Drink

  • Sugar Cane with Water Chestnut

These were just a few choice items on the menu at this particular place. There is no end to the "interesting" choices we can find in restaurants. Another popular dessert is a frothy coconut drink with little balls of black jelly. They put those little balls of black jelly in a lot of desserts, actually. And once you get over the funky, slimy texture, it's actually pretty darn good. I got some for John and myself once and they brought it with a giant straw that was wide enough to suck up the little jelly balls. John thought that was just about the coolest thing ever.

A picture of Michael in the theater. I was pretty impressed because it was really dark in here so I tried the "candlelight" setting on my camera and it lit everything up amazingly well. It was definitely *not* this bright while we sat there waiting for it to start. I also had to snap a picture of what Michael was doing on our date...that's right, opening up the internet on his phone and getting some work done. Big surprise.

So I cannot say enough good things about the concert. The lovely Mrs. Krall (married to one Mr. Elvis Costello, in case you didn't know) provided an intimate, comfortable setting even in a large auditorium. She seemed...nervous? Jet-lagged? Self-concious? Something, but just the fact that she wasn't a loud, proud, and swaggering performer almost made the concert more appealing. It fit the sort of music she plays. Oh, and did she play. She had a guitar/drum/bass combo with her and they were all amazing, taking turns showing off during each song with solos on their respective instruments. They played Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole...there was a particularly impressive adaption of Irving Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance" played in a (who thought of this?!) Bossa Nova beat. That was pretty rockin.

I don't know how I've lived this long and never heard Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" but now that I've heard Diana Krall's haunting adaption on solo piano, I'm not sure I want to hear the original. This was honestly one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard and it made me want to cry. I can't help but feel intensely inferior when in the presence of people filled with such passion. My lovely Lisa and her passion for piano is one example. Another is Krisi, who has been making movies since I first met her in 9th grade and she's still making them. My cousin, Heather, is an avid reader and writer who has been an inspiration to me to get back into my writing. My s-i-l Min who puts intense care into her home decorating and who I would pay anything to have her decorate my home. (Just ask her sometime to give you a tour, you will's like walking into a magazine.) My friend Nichole who...well, if you know Nichole, you know what I'm talking about. So many people around me are passionate about their talents or hobbies, their careers and interests. I have to admit to feeling crummy for not developing my own personal talents or making myself into a better woman. I think after going to that concert I have been more motivated to work on my "life list"...not just making it, but actually crossing things off. I've already learned how to Scuba dive, so there's one thing I can cross off, but maybe now I can learn another language, write a book, train for a triathlon, or start a business. Or maybe all 4. We'll see how long the motivating euphoria from the concert lasts.

So, sorry about the tangent...getting back to the music...90 minutes was over before we knew it. We got to sing 'Happy Birthday' to the bass player and she played "S'Wonderful" for the encore (also in a bossa nova beat...seriously, awesome) and I could have stayed all night. Maybe because I didn't have a kid hanging on at least one arm, but I had a great time. Michael & I couldn't stop talking about it all night, so I think he enjoyed his birthday present too. (Sidenote...favorite part of the concert: Diana started a song and apparently stumbled- I couldn't tell- and said "Dammit" really loudly while giggling into the microphone. She snorted back a little laugh and said something about always being "a student at heart first" before she started over. For some reason it's those little candid soundbites that make live concerts the best.) Anyway, happy birthday again, Michael. I love you and thank you for taking me along on the birthday date. ;) Love ya!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

jungle trekking...sorta...not really

Some friends invited us to go to a national reserve park just outside of Kuala Lumpur to celebrate Hari Raya, which signifies the end of Ramadan...OK, we weren't exactly celebrating it because we're Christian and it's a Muslim holiday, but we were still celebrating the fact that it was a national holiday and most of the stores were closed and the roads were deserted and it was just a good excuse to get away for an afternoon. The park is located in the area of Selangor but neither Michael or I had the wherewithall to actually ask the official name of the place, we were just along for the ride to spend an afternoon getting in touch with nature.

Here we are on our way, following Eric, our host for the day.

This picture is blurry (sorry) but I was waiting in the car with the kids and wanted to get a shot of Michael buying some Lemang. It is a HUGE comfort food for the locals at this time of year (think pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving) so we wanted to give it a try. It is a coconut-flavored sticky rice that is wrapped in a banana leave and placed in a hollowed out stick of bamboo, then placed over a fire to cook. You can find these vendors along the side of the road EVERYWHERE and they make things quite smokey (hence, the picture). It was also funny because all of these guys were crazy excited about Michael. They never get white people coming around there because it's not a big tourist spot, just a major get-away for the locals, so he became an instant celebrity. And honestly, we never saw any other white people all day.

Again, major blur...sorry. (You can tell how rain-spattered our windows were at one point) but we had to get a picture of the "butcher" selling his wares. We've seen these more & more recently (maybe just another Hari Raya holiday tradition?) where a cart is set up on the side of the road and big slabs of unidentified meat is hanging proudly and prominently for patrons to come scrutinize. How do they decide? Is it the piece that looks the least sweltering from the heat? The one with the least amount of flies? Just something about seeing it on a hook like that makes me a little queasy.

It was only about a 45 minute drive from our house, along a road that we wistfully compared to an Asian jungle-themed version of Highway 89 through rural Utah (have you driven it? you should spend a day doing that, you won't regret it) and we arrived at our site. The reserve has several campsites as well as A-frame units for rent (anywhere from $10-$50/night, depending on how many people you want to house) and there is a pleasant river running right through the middle of it all. We were in 2 cars and upon first arrival to the site, cute little Tu (sp? she's Vietnamese), who absolutely adores John, pounced on him for hugs and mothering. He used to run away shouting "no!" to her (she liked to pinch his cheeks and he wasn't a huge fan of that) but she has stopped the pinching so he tolerates her pretty well.

All the kids were in their swimsuits before the adults could get out of the cars and were gleefully splashing in the river. Some things I noticed about differences from camping at home? You could walk around barefoot pretty easily because most things were cushioned in a nice fuzzy covering of mold. Also the ants were about as big as my thumb.

The view up the river was gorgeous, with spots of sun escaping through the canopy of trees and strategically placing themselves on various bits of ground below. As you can see, we found ourselves a little sunspot to play in...sort of makes my son look like radioactive boy.

We took a break from swimming to enjoy the lemang we had bought earlier on the road. A popular dish to serve this with is beef rendang, which is basically a freaky-spicy curry. You can see the 2 halves of the bamboo stick at the top of the picture and the rice wrapped in the banana leaf on the lower right side of the big blue plate. Obviously it was a hit because I could barely get my camera out before half the table was devoured in the frenzy.

No meal would be complete unless it was topped off with a healthy dose of watermelon. Emily loves her some melon.

Father & son off to enjoy nature. That makes my heart go all soft.

For some reason I was fascinated by these yellow butterflies. They were seriously everywhere. If you were still for a while they would calm down and sit, statuesque, like innocent little yellow leaves...until some 2-year old Godzilla would run screaming through the middle of them and ruin every shot I tried to take. This was the best I got.

Phew! What a long, hot day. I think I need me a drink.

Friday, October 03, 2008

catching up

So we've done a bunch of stuff this month that I have put off posting about and now it's time to play catch-up, so in a nutshell here are some of the highlights...
First, a birthday party, this guy was born not too long after we arrived in Malaysia and now he's one year old! Time flies, don't it? His mom is one of my best friends and totally gorgeous to boot.

Emily was fascinated by this boy, Suria, and wanted to grab his face. She has a thing for grabbing faces. (This kid is enormous...we gave him John's old 18-month clothes when he outgrew them and Suria was wearing them before he was even a year old.)

The 2 Musketeers...these boys are inseperable and I cannot mention the name of anyone in the family without John whining at me for days about going to visit them.

Some of the gals at the birthday party (this was also a new house so it became a housewarming/birthday party.) Our friends are just beautiful. By the way, the 2nd woman from the left is MiowLin and she is the most amazing woman ever. I repeat, most amazing. Ever. She is single and we need to find a super-man for her to marry. If you know one, call me and we'll arrange it. She's going to kill me when she sees this.

This is Dolly...she is our current Relief Society president and one of my most favorite people ever.

Me holding Emily & Kareen (daughter of new family we just met that night)...these girls are the same age. And I thought Emily was big!

My beautiful, blue-eyed boy. We had a really rough weekend with him and were at out wits end about the tantrum throwing (are we done with that phase yet? and how can such hell-raising, earth-shattering noises eminate from such a little person?) but after letting me cry on the couch for a while and tell him that I couldn't do this anymore, Michael decided we need to try out some "Love & Logic" strategies (thanks anj!!!) and this week has been miraculously more pleasant. Not that John is more obedient, but we are better able to handle outbursts and stay in control of the situation. We have so much to learn. But after a screaming, weepy, out-of-control couple of days, suddenly it was all washed away when we were sitting on the couch and I was patiently explaining to John how happy it made me when he would talk to me about things and he turned to me with those heart-breaking eyse and said, "Mommy, can I make you happy?" and put his head on my shoulder. Life doesn't get much better than that.

John had an "oh" face when he was 18 months that was adorable and made everyone laugh. Emily has one at 8 months that is to die for. It's actually more of an "AH" face, like when you go to the dentist and have to make your mouth as big as possible. She does this when she gets really excited (which happens a lot...when she is about to eat, when she sees John or Michael or me, when she sees herself in the mirror...) and the "ah" face is combined with her hands rapidly slapping up and down and her feet kicking wildly. Something about her look always says "I WANT TO EAT YOUR FACE! COME HERE SO I CAN SLIME YOU!" Try making this face yourself and I dare you not to laugh.

For Family Home Evening recently we started putting together our 72-hour kits (or "bug-out bags" as Michael taught John to say) and we all got in the action. John even has a Snoopy backpack to carry his own diapers and granola bars.

These 2 kids are best friends and it warms our hearts more than anything on the planet. John always wants to climb into Emily's crib with her and they'll snuggle and he'll laugh and pretend to be mad when she grabs his face. If Emily's cranky because she wants to be picked up, she'll stop immediately when John pops into the room to play with her. If they are both in good moods, they giggle to each other in the back seat of the car while Michael & I grin at each other in the front seat. I hope this lasts...

I have a ton of more pictures to post, things we did during Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) this week: lunch with friends, a trip to a national reserve park, an awesome Diana Krall concert(for michael's birthday!!!), but it's 1:00am and my pillow is calling to me.