Monday, April 27, 2009

happy birthday to me

This is the face of a happy girl on her 30th birthday. And although slightly bittersweet because of the upcoming goodbyes it was one of the best birthdays ever. There was Royal Masala pizza from Pizza Hut, there were 3 kinds of cake, there was karaoke, there was watermelon, there was a slumber party-type rendition of 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' and there were lots of laughs. I got to dance with my sweet husband, sing with my beautiful little boy and spend time with people that I love. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I never met a chocolate I didn't like.

Trying to keep things as normal as possible (hard to do while half of our things have been either thrown away or packed into boxes or sold) earlier this month we did some finger painting. I don't have finger paints, so we used chocolate pudding! (Thanks, mom, for the idea, it was a huge hit!)

Here we are getting them set up-- just dump a little into a bowl and go nuts.

Or, if you're my baby girl, you find a better use for that chocolate on your paper...

That's right, get it ALL off...

...oh, wait, you missed a spot.

That's my girl.

Monday, April 20, 2009

HAPPY EASTER!!! (Wearing their new Easter clothes from Aunt Cathy!) We can hardly tear them away from church on Sunday because they're having so much fun with their friends.

So the day after Easter we decided to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Melaka, which is a historically rich & colorful city. It's only about a 40-minute drive away so we thought we'd just spend an hour or two and then drive home. Instead we were there basically ALL DAY (which was only a bad idea because we didn't come prepared with sunblock and were walking around all afternoon with clear skies...ouch) and we loved it! Here's a short summary of our day.
We played for a bit at this fountain...

... which is in front of this famous church.

We got to walk around on this cool boat (they made us take our shoes off and it felt wonderfully refreshing to walk barefoot on the cool planks inside the hull after nearly boiling to death in the heat outside).

Everyone was very happy to be here.

SO very, very happy.

Although things started looking up once there were "big guns" introduced into the festivities.

Such a good, sunburnt time was had by all. We drove MUCH slower on the ride home to ensure maximum nap time was given to all participants (including mommy).

Or maybe there's something in the water...looks like this guy was drinking it.

And now, to end with an unrelated anecdote...

Occasionally John will come into our room in the morning and play quietly for a while before climbing into bed and demanding breakfast, which means that Michael and I are still asleep while he does this. He also knows how to use the camera-- turn it on, point & shoot. And quite often he's actually pretty good at it. After downloading pictures from my camera to the computer, we were going through the scenes from the last month and were surprised by this image:

This is the picture of two completely oblivious, unconscious parents being used for photography practice. That is the kind of devoted, attentive care I give to my children. What can I say? They deserve the very best.
His attention to centering and lighting is quite impressive for a 3 year old. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, he also took this one:

Hmmm...maybe he needs to keep practicing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Time To Say Goodbye

(If you follow this road up and veer to the right, our home is just around that bend)

I know I haven't been perfectly forthcoming in my comments about our visit home, but after repeated emails and Facebook confrontations I thought it was about time to come clean. After close to 2 years living in Malaysia we have bought one-way tickets back to the United States at the end of the month. (Holy moly, that's in 2 weeks!! So much to do...) We do have tentative (and hopeful!) plans to return next summer to Asia for a scuba diving visit if our finances will allow, but for the immediate future we are planning to once again take up residence in Utah. And while we are anxious to be back near our family and friends we left behind, we find ourselves grieving for the friends and life we will now leave behind in Malaysia. We have come to truly love this place and our lives here, we are loathe to leave our friends that we love, we are dreading having to leave the warm weather behind and brace ourselves for cold temperatures and dry desert air, and we are deeply saddened at the thought of leaving the country we have learned to call home.

I can hardly imagine going weeks at a time without eating a fresh mango. I can't imagine wearing socks every day. (I can't imagine wearing socks at all...I don't remember the last time I did. My kids don't even own a single pair.) I can't imagine having to drive 13 hours through 3 states to get to the nearest beach. I can hardly bear to think about leaving our beloved food stalls, curry shops, outdoor markets, authentic ethnic restaurants (banana leaf, i will miss you!!!), and the warm, lush, dense, green jungle that now surrounds our home. Of course it comes with drawbacks as well: snakes, civets, roaches, mosquitoes...but all of those things have made our experience more raw, more real, and more memorable.

We have probably learned more about our family than I can ever put into words. I have learned more about people, about the nature of selflessness, and about the intangible, transient nature of our possessions than I ever imagined. In fact, I didn't imagine it. If I had never lived here, I never would have realized what I was missing, or that there were eternal principles I barely knew existed. I am sure some of the most powerful lessons learned here, what I will take back with me and will stay with me for the rest of my life, will be the examples I was shown by others. The natures of sacrifice, stewardship, charity, and consecration have been further opened to my view through the loving example of friends, and occasionally strangers, who have truly shown us a better way to live. I hope I can be a better person for having lived here. If I can use those lessons and apply them to our family for the rest of our lives, it will have been worth a hundred times the money it cost us to come here. This has been one of the most valuable education I've received, along with my LDS mission, in terms of the life-lessons taught and the improvement made to my own quality of life. Just like any principle, though, it will depend upon my own practical application and ability to put into daily practice the things I've learned. It might take a while, but I hope this experience has made me a better person. I hope it has made all of us better people.

We really are excited to see those of you at home that we've been missing for so long, to see our nieces & nephews who have surely grown beyond recognition, to reconnect with friends that have gone through their own hills & valleys in the last 2 years, and to experience some other things we've missed (GOOD milk, pepperoni, artisan breads, and berries, to name just a few) but for now we are still mourning the coming loss of our Asian home.

(This is the same view as the picture at top...notice the isolated stop sign? The jungle was completely cleared out because of neighbor's complaints about overgrown vegetation, snakes, mosquitoes, etc. It feels very symbolic of our departure at this time.)

Malaysia, we will miss you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

a sacred time...

I wanted to add that I know the Lord lives and that he can and does give us comfort in our most troubling times. I have without doubt been given that comfort when I needed it most, from the time I was a child even until today (especially today...why doesn't life get easier as we have more practice!) I can never express my gratitude enough for the guidance, hope and joy that is brought into my life by following the Savior.
We hope you all have a glorious Easter weekend!!!

Sunday, April 05, 2009


We have a winner folks!!!!

I always suspected it, but now it is confirmed that Jens is the smartest person I know.

(Picture found here)

That's right, just as I was about the reveal the secret ingredient (aka: mystery meat from the last post) he swooped in a guessed CROCODILE!!! That's right, we ate crocodile and I must say it was nothing spectacular. We sort of compared it to eating tough/slightly chewy chicken, but it was also smothered in ginger and I think it's hard to go wrong with a dish smothered in ginger. I'd probably eat a big bowl of rubberbands if there was enough ginger. And garlic. You can also never have too much garlic.

When we first tried to get John to "try the crocodile" he wouldn't even go near the stuff (imagine that), but after Michael convinced him it was really "just chicken" he ate a quarter of the plate. Even after revealing the mystery meat's true identity he kept happily munching away. Now when we ask, "do you remember when we ate crocodile?" he gets this glint in his eye and says "yeah, that was yummy! let's do that AGAIN!!!"

So was my assessment wrong? I assumed that no one I knew had eaten crocodile before, but I may be off. I mean my parents live in Africa and several of my friends/family members have served missions in Japan and they eat some FUNKY stuff. So proudly proclaim if you've eaten crocodile before! Or see if you can trump it with something more exotic. Or bizarre. Or just downright disgusting.

Oh, and last but not least, I am a woman of my word and I meant it that I would send something to the Jens you can expect a mystery present from Malaysia in the next few weeks. Only thing is, I won't be mailing it. I will be hand-delivering it to your door. See you soon.
(heh-heh, you like how i just threw that in there? you weren't expecting that were you? we're all about keeping you on your toes on this blog.)