Thursday, 21 July 2016

"home assignment" actually at home this time

People in our line of work usually have to do a thing that some call "home assignment". That is every so often leave Cambodia for a period of say a few months to (among other things) reconnect with people in Australia.

Some have semi- jokingly referred to it as "homeLESS assignment", as although people are back in their passport country they are actually away from their current place of residence. Some of the craziness is described here on an Aussie missionaries blog. Travelling to the another country to try to give ministry partners a glimpse of what happens here.

We just enjoyed something like a homeless assignment at home! So great! We got to show a bit of our lives here to some ministry partners without having to leave home. A couple of people from a supporting church left their home  to visit us for about 10 days. We mostly did what we do in a normal week- so they got to see it in real life rather than just in a PowerPoint presentation.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Overwhelmed (in a good way)

The last two mornings I've arrived home with a full tuktuk and 2 tired kids. Both mornings we were given SO MANY presents! Due to about 3 different factors we now have lots of fun new toys and books for the kids and some other things too.
We haven't had a chance yet to sort it all out. I'm hoping to choose some toys and books to play with now and some to pack away for later.
The toddler has become attached to one particular book already, he even had a nap with it today.
I don't know that I'll get a chance to say thank you to all the people who gave us presents, so this is a general thanks.

Monday, 11 July 2016

"Beautiful, made from good quality natural products, worth 1000s of dollars, saved up to buy this investment."

"Ugly, uncomfortable, useless, takes up space."

Two descriptions about the same thing. Solid wood furniture, sometimes decorated with carvings of flowers and animals. Expats who rent in Cambodia often end up with wooden things that look like they are meant to be sofas...

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

still struggling with spontaneity in siem reap

Ever since we moved here about 18 months ago  we keep getting surprised when people change plans at the last minute.

Soeun finds out he is preaching tomorrow,
or finds out his course he has been prepping and planning for ages is suddenly having a holiday.

After living in Cambodia's capital city and working in a Bible school we're finding it quite different in a small town church context.

It feels like people are always changing plans at the last minutes and we just have to adjust to it.

 The young adults at church often work as babysitters for us, but sometimes don't turn up and then we find they were needed elsewhere.

The other day we noted it doesn't seem to stress out other people, maybe that's just how things work here. Which reminded me of the traffic - it looks really chaotic here but people just go with the flow, go around each other, adjust to whatever is going on around them.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Migraine Awareness Month

So apparently June is Migraine Awareness month, according to My Migraine Brain.

Five years ago Soeun was diagnosed with Vestibular Migraine , he was suffering from 24/7 symptoms for almost a year before we got that diagnoses.

His ear symptoms are the main thing, so we normally tell people he has a chronic ear thing similar to Meniere's Disease because the word "migraine" makes people think of headaches.

I was trying to write something short for our newsletter or this blog for Awareness Month, I'm still working on that, so far in rough draft brainstorming stage on this other blog called Chronic Kronicle. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

the juggle begins. First 3 months of working since having kids

It had been a hot, humid morning,
the power was off,
the babysitter wasn't sure if she could come as it was raining/stormy,
kids had fevers,
we'd all been sick and hadn't slept much.

Soeun was home, he had been hoping to work at his desk but instead had to spend the afternoon and evening looking after a sick baby and toddler.

It was really hard to leave the house as the kids were waking up from afternoon naps, knowing Soeun would be by himself with sick kids and no fans until bedtime.

At one point Soeun messaged me to say that the feverish baby had come out in a rash and was making strange jerky movements.  It had already been really hard to leave the house, and when I heard that I was regretting not calling in sick.

Between classes I talked to my boss, I was feeling like I might need to go home and take the baby to the doctor, but in the end I taught my night class as well.

Having a sick baby felt like a really serious thing to me, I wish I could have been there, (lucky turned out not to be serious) but now I also have a job. From now on its going to be juggling priorities and commitments.

Since we got back to Cambodia and started having kids I've been turning down all English teaching opportunities. Since Soeun developed his chronic sickness he can't do as much as he used to.

He has specific training and experience and there are so more things he could be doing if only he had better health. I figure the more energy I spend outside the family, the more he has to do within, which reduces his energy for ministry even more.

Until now- with the Aus dollar falling, it means our income has gone down.  So a few months ago I started working at a school teaching English.  

This week has been an example of why I haven't wanted to teach so far- Soeun has been sick, plus the babysitter couldn't work this week (we didn't know ahead of time) AND as well as my normal work hours I had a meeting. So Soeun hasn't had his sermon prep time- between being sick and looking after the kids while I'm at work and meetings. It does feel like as I feared, my work outside the family makes it hard for him.

Unfortunately so far it has NOT been financially beneficial for us, but we are hopeful that it will be in the future. After I started working I was told I need to pay for the work permit. I knew that was coming but I thought it was just 100usd, but turned out they wanted 400usd. Boo. It took me a few month to earn that much, we are only just even so to speak. But actually behind if you take into account the money we've spent on babysitting, paper nappies and other things you spend more on when you have less time.

But in other news, the weather is getting cooler. The toddler and I went for a walk this morning to the market to buy veg, look at the fish, and we ended up having breakfast!
Fish at the market (to buy and cook at home)

Breakfast for 1USD (at other places its only 75c

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

catching up on news for my non-Facebook friends

you can check here too for photos

the expected 3 am baby diarrhea looks less scary now that ive been able to locate a packet of baby wipes. such a great invention

we've been sick with various things since march.... i'm so tired i seem to be dropping glass jars on the floor everyday, not good when there is a crawler

mummy i love you, and i love this too (toddler clutching plastic hammer)

sometimes its too hot to play outside. sometimes the strong rain prevents us. and sometimes there is too much ash falling

if you are going to go food shopping, with baby& toddler at a terrible time of day but with no money, make sure you go to a supermarket that gives you a pen to write an IOU

mummy! the trees are green like the garbage truck

how funny would it be if you were in a drought and you were trying to stop your house from flooding?

The crawling baby
Water on the tiles
Bleeding and swollen

its all fun and games until someone does a poo in the bath 

Since it rained on Tuesday the water out of the tap is COLD!!! So refreshing!

had a long few days with sick toddler while daddy was away. toddler s fever went down, but then the baby s went up. meanwhile the power is going on and off. thankfully we still have water

Monday, 6 June 2016

Happily the other day I was told my baby was sick...

Happily the other day I was told my baby was sick. I say happily as we had suspected she was sick for a few weeks, so its great to find out what it is and treat it. Also its great to  have a doctor we can trust and afford and get to.

When I first arrived in Cambodia 10.5 years ago I was told by other expats if I got sick to go to SOS clinic. It seemed to be almost the only place people trusted. It was really expensive, to see a doctor cost about the same as my monthly rent. Then if I needed tests or meds it was way way more. And it was in another part of town, and with the terrible roads and traffic (about 5 ppl a day die on the roads, plus the bumpy roads and motos gave me a sore back) it felt really hard to get to.

Now we have a few options. The clinic we went to recently was recommended to me by lots of expats and costs a lot less than a months rent!

Friday, 20 May 2016

so similar and so different at the same time

Last week I didn't go to Bible study as Soeun and I were both vomiting.
Then we cancelled our weekend plans because the toddler had a fever.
Then cancelled Monday because we were all recovering from that.
Then Monday night the baby got a fever, and on Tuesday night I almost went home from work when she had some other weird symptoms.

That's been the general pattern of the last few months. We keep getting sick, and keep having to change plans because of it.

In some ways it reminds me of the two years we were in Aus. We kept cancelling plans all the time due to ill health.

In other ways it is really different.

This is MUCH less stressful, although physically hard, and frustrating at least these are all short term normal health issues. The others toddlers we play with are also getting fevers randomly. People get the flu, people have tummy issues.

When in Aus we had the the physically hard side of it as well as it being so stressful. The health problems got worse and worse despite doctors visits , lifestyle changes, trying medicines etc etc. On top of that because it was hard for us and doctors to understand it was even harder for the people around us to understand which added to the strain.

I'm just realising this now, how much less stressful it is when I tell friends I can't come to events because we are vomiting and/or have fevers etc. Its easy for them to get it, as they have probably had it themselves. Sooo different to our life in 2011-2012..

Nevermind the fact that we were going through all that at the same time as living back in Aus after a number of years in Cambodia....

Saturday, 14 May 2016

tail end of hot season

These days one of us is out almost each night while the other looks after the kids, it feel exhausting at the best of times but with power cuts and sickness added in, its even more exciting.

Early this week I left  for work feeling hot and tired and gross. I often feel like that in the afternoon, esp on a hot day with no power as this one was. It was extra hard to leave as the babysitter who has just started working for us just messaged to say she was sick and not coming. Soeun was staying home anyway, so it was ok, but he was hoping to get some lesson prep done, and have help with the kids while he cooked dinner. No power, no babysitter, erk!

Anyway, by the time I got home I was feeling worse. Soeun had had a hard afternoon and evening with the kids and when I finally got home it got even harder- they were still awake and then I started vomiting... I had started the day feeling gross and it only got worse....and then Soeun was vomiting too. It was a really yucky evening, with the kids still awake, the power on but not enough to run the air con ... both parents sick while the kids still energetic and awake late at night!

Thankfully it was short lived. Two days later I was eating normally again, and feeling better. Just in time as now the toddler is sick. He had a high temperature yesterday, so we had an eventful night, including a few hours with no power just as I was trying to make dinner.

Soeun is busy with an old family friends wedding. He considered not going because of all the sickness and power cuts this week, but we already missed an important wedding a couple of months ago so we didn't want him to miss this one too.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

our next trip to aus...????

Its been longer than we would have liked since our last trip to visit friends, supporters, churches in NSW. The last few years we have had so many big changes we haven't really had a chance, we always seem to be moving to a new town or having a baby.

This time last year we were hoping to make a quick trip but it didn't work out. At some stage we'd like to make another trip like this one : click here for Aust trip 2010. "Exhausting but good..." to quote myself.... see below below for full quotes.

These kind of trips are usually both very exciting and very hard. This time around if feels a bit harder as it will be the first time we do it with chronic illness and kids, and also because of the way we left there is a bit of a mental hurdle. It was hard the whole time we were there (almost 2 years) but we kept trying to make it better/hoping it would get better. In the end we had to leave in desperation/ exhaustion.

From our 2010 trip:

"Over the last 6 weeks I've slept in about 8 different beds. 
Over the last 4 weeks we've done the watering can presentation about 22 times. 
We've seen lots of people we haven't seen for 3.5 years, others I haven't seen for about 8 years. 
Some friends and family we saw for the last time in X amount of time as we all live overseas. 
It's been our first winter in 5 years.
Lots of meetings and lots of people helping us. 
Exhausting time but it's been good to try to get things set up for next year."

"Well my brain is quite full at the moment. Being new in the country it takes ages just to do basic stuff, and I feel tired and overwhelmed. But its also exciting to see people, and there are so many interesting things to look at. I keep running into people when I'm walking down the street because I'm too busy staring at everything. And maybe because people here walk on the wrong side of the foot path. I'm enjoying the foot paths, thats something I miss when in Cambodia. Each day here I feel like I'm trying to organise what I'm doing today and trying to think about what I need to do do get ready for next week as well.
I'm feeling much better than I was earlier on. The first few days always seem to be horrible. "

Monday, 2 May 2016


Our 2nd KNY in SR. So different from April anywhere. Stars decorate the town and there is heaps of stuff on, although I still have not been to anything (its hot, don't really have transport). We usually just get together with family. My mother in law couldn't make it this year because of the drought.
My bil came tho, and I was surprised when he was listening to our neighbours.  It was the first time he'd seen the ceremony where you splash water on your old people. It was my first time to hear it last year, but its familiar to Soeun.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

hot season so far...

Can you see the man in the tree? Our landlords hire a guy to climb up and harvest the big bunches of coconuts from this tree in our front yard. The last harvest day happily coincided with our friends visit. The kids enjoyed watching the man climb up the long palm trunk and lower down the bunches.

Mostly the last month and a half has been hot and hard, most of the time at least one of us has been sick (at one point we ALL had the flu at the same time) and its a constant battle to try to keep good sleep and eating habits. Mostly it feels like we get nothing done in a day, except surviving.

Sunday, 28 February 2016


The cool season has said goodbye and soon it will be the hottest time of the year! 

Talking about how we might change our habits and move furniture to cope with it. I realised I don't need to stop taking the kids for walks, we just need to get out earlier. It normally takes me about 4 hours to get ready to go out, but for a quick  prebreakfast walk I've started just strapping the baby on and finding shoes for the toddler and I.  Its so nice to be out in the cool air with the sunshine and trees, hopefully we can make this a habit throughout the hottest weeks, as most of the day we'll be inside.

A breakfast of pork and rice out on our corner only cost about 75 cents, so we'll probably do that often over the next few months.

The toy fire truck came on our walk this morning. And the toddler carried his breakfast home, he wasn't really into eating when there was so much to look at.

Grilled pork with rice- and egg and pickled veg and soup and iced tea

They say the more papers under the table the better the food at the rice eating place.

And after hot season we will be saying goodbye to friends.  The expat community is like that, lots of goodbyes esp at the end of the school year (which is around June). There are at least 2 families who we've been meeting for playdates leaving Cambodia in May. Then a few others will leave in June/July. Some leaving Cambodia, some just away for summer holiday or to have a baby.

Even though we don't teach or go to school my week is with others who do, so in June there will be lots of changes to our normal activities.