Monday, August 20, 2018

Fairy lights, empty photo frames and speedy but measured emotional investment.

Get off the plane. Decorate house. Have baby. Get back on the plane.

A string of fairy lights ties my first pregnancy/newborn memories to a night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We decorated our house with the lights, along with postcards and photos. It felt like our place for those 90 days of maternity leave from Cambodia/Australia.

I tried to make our room feel like home as quickly as possible (without investing too much) as we were only going to be there for three months. 

I tacked up, taped up and tied up satiny scarves from the Russian market and photos of friends and family to begin  my first year in Cambodia. The walls were covered in brown marks from the last person's taped up posters, the ceiling was really low and there was little natural light or air flow.

 It was hot and uncomfortable but I needed to make my room feel like home as quickly as possible (without investing too much) as I was only going to be there for ten months.

ONE  (academic) YEAR (multiplied by about 6)
Again, photos up on the wall straight away in my Australian student accommodation (and sometimes a rainbow mirror ball). Some years it was my uni course, Bible college year or husband's Bible college.

I tried to make my/our room/s feel like home as quickly as possible (without investing too much) as we were only going to be there for about 11 months.

To combat the dark, cold months of a north east Chinese winter I bought a gaggle of pot plants for my flat, as well as arranging  photos and pictures above the radiator. The colourful doona cover I received from friends at uni decorated my sofa. Finding a place for the washing machine, that still allowed me to use the kitchen and the bathroom was a big challenge but thankfully got done.

I needed to make my room feel like home as quickly as possible (without investing too much) as I was only going to be there for eighteen months.

The patterns breaks down here, I would have loved making it home straight away, especially as we had come from 2 years of stress and were due to have a baby in 6 months...however, the owners were selling so we had to go month by month not knowing if they were going to kick us out- so stressful not to be able to make it feel like home, it had felt like such an essential thing to do all the other times I've moved house. I need a home to rest in so I can function.  

Again, the pattern breaks down but for a happier reason. When we knew we would be in the same house for FOUR YEARS we attached hooks and hung empty photos frames on the wall. No need to rush putting photos in, there's plenty of time to do that later. We didn't need to make it feel like home as quickly as possible, as we would be there for FOUR YEARS. So when it came time to pack up we laughed when we took down the still empty photo frames...

I didn't really get interested in last week's Velvet Ashes word until I read The Grove and the readers blog linked up. When I did I realised this is an aspect of expat life I want to record here.  This isn't an exhaustive list of house moves but its the general vibe of the last 20 years.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Grand Finale of preschool

Surprise! We found a water melon growing near out steps.
A time capsule of this transition which turned out to be surprisingly delightful.

It came sooner than I expected, and I felt happy instead of stressed. Taking the kids out of preschool has been looming before us for a while. We needed somewhere fun and safe for them to play over the last couple of years but now things have progressed and it’s time to get used to being at home together as we plan to try homeschooling.

The kids were going to be at preschool until the end of August...but in early June about 4 or 5 things came together and we realised we would finish up in June. It had been such a lifesaver, we put our eldest in in desperation- he needed more climbing and friends than we could find elsewhere.  So I thought taking them out would be hard, but when it was the right time it felt like we suddenly didn’t need it anymore.

Such a big relief- the thing I was dreading disappeared.

Dress up day at preschool

It was Fairy Tale Dress up day on the Thursday. Our son was so excited, he came up with the idea to dress up as the big bad wolf. He begged me to buy a grey t shirt to go with his grey shorts, he found socks to put on his arms and worked out a mask. We painted it together on the Wednesday afternoon. It was fun to see him having so much fun planning his costume. Painting with him at home also made me less stressed about homeschooling. Yes it was messy, but so thankful we have been given some paints and paint brushes, and he has so much fun painting. That was one of the things I like about preschool- they do so much fun messy stuff there, which the kids love and I don’t have to set up or clean up.
Our son worked hard writing and drawing on the Thursday afternoon, he was excited to make cards for his teachers. We also made granola for them in our toaster oven. Both our kids were given huge handmade cards with finger prints and photos of their class. I went early to pick up and got some photos of them near the world map with friends.

Some of the books we bought in the last week of preschool.
 Choosing a new-to-us book to take home was a feature of those last few days. A bookshop just opened up near preschool, full of English language kids books!!! As we won’t be in town much after this, I let the kids choose a book each 3 days in a row. Exciting, festive! Added to our Peppa collection, got our first Mr Man book and, our sons new favourite , our first Enid Blyton. I didn’t know if he would be ready for so many words and so little pictures but he LOVES it. I’m reading it to him for the second time now, he keeps asking for it again.

June skies are amazing

I was glad our son already had an idea about homeschool from when we visited a friend in February. All the other kids are going to different schools, or continuing on at the same school. He is just staying home to play and read books for now, but he calls it homeschool, and he is really excited about it. Yay!
Tuk tuk ride home on final day of preschool

I'm still being asked to read this book everyday almost a month after we bought it! I thought it would be too many words and not enough pictures but he loves it. The word "tiresome" has entered his vocab. 'oh Mummy, you are tiresome"
The first week after preschool we were up to Psalm 19 so that matched the amazing sunsets we were having. At the start of the week we had some kitchen shelves made for the pantry, I spent the next few days unpacking our kitchen boxes while Soeun and the kids went to visit Grandma. One child came back with a sore face after falling down some stairs! On the way back they had a boat ride at sunset. The next Sunday I went to house church and discovered a homeschooling family is moving near where we live (where no other expats live... yet?) Exciting times.

Soeun's sunset boat ride photo

Where our non cautious child met her swollen mouth.

New shelves, unpacking boxes we packed back in October.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Goodbye season, Hello season

Contrasts at this time of year: dark stormy clouds and brilliant sunshiny green leaves

Goodbye expat friends, particularity one who was part of both Bible study group and the initial playgroup I was part of when we first moved to Siem Reap. Boo.

Hello families with kids on our side of town! Recently been getting to know 2 families from preschool who have kids our kids love playing with. A European family and another Khmer/Barang family. Yay.

Goodbye preschool. We first started there as it has one of the only outdoor play areas and our toddler boy needed to climb and run. We kept going because  its  a safe fun place for our kids, and it gives me time to get stuff done. Such a great mix of Khmer and expat families. Boo.

Hello new home based lifestyle. Since we moved its been getting harder to go into town each day, it will be good to cut out the travel and rush. Now we have space at home for the kids to play so we don't need preschool like we did a year ago. Yay.

Goodbye to turning up to expat women's Bible study group easily. Its held near preschool at the same time as the kids are at preschool.
Hello more space and time to have playdates with people from the expat house church who I'd like to get to know more.

Goodbye shopping mostly at supermarkets with tired kids and a tuk tuk. Since we moved out of town its been hard to get to the market.
Hello going back to walking to the local market, buying meat and veggies easily and getting to know our community.

Friday, June 01, 2018

7 ways reentry is like invisible illness (or Why I prefer scorpion stings to visiting my passport country)

" to ignition or blast-off, the re entry phase is the most dangerous and difficult part of a space mission.."
From Craig Storti , The Art of Coming Home, pg 187 

Sudden excruciating pain stabbed into my foot and up my leg.

After flicking the light switch I saw the scorpion, lying, as if innocent, on the bedroom  floor.

“Am I going to die?” was my first thought; closely followed by “We need to take a photo for Facebook.”

No, I didn’t die, and yes, we did get a photo uploaded within minutes. It grabbed the attention of over fifty of my closest friends all around the world. It felt exotic and exciting. Although the sting stung, the memory of it is not painful, in fact I love talking about it.

A memory that is painful is that time my husband was dizzy.
For two years. For no reason.

Nothing was different about his appearance (compared to a healthy person), or even his medical tests, but everything was different for him, for both of us.

“When you get an invisible illness...your whole world alters. How you see yourself changes. But how the world sees you does not. Your illness is invisible to others, to doctors and to the government. The perils of not being seen can be life-threatening.”

Your world changes, but no one can see that. This description of invisible chronic illness sheds light on the reentry process, when you return to your passport country after years away.

Nothing is different about my appearance (compared to an Aussie who has been living in Australia) but everything is different for me.

Living with an invisible illness and going through reentry are both types of unseen pain, unlike a scorpion sting.

7 ways reentry and invisible illness are similar

1.You surprise everyone by not being able to do things they expect you can do.
In your previous life you could work and take care of yourself. Now despite appearances that’s all changed. Some parts take more effort than others, other parts impossible.  Debilitated and disorientated.
People in the supermarket expect you to know what to do.  Drivers expect you will know how to, and be able to cross the road.

2.You surprise yourself by not being able to do things you expect you can do.
Make a list of simple stuff to get done.
Try to do it.
Feel surprised and frustrated.

3.You surprise others and yourself by not being what (you perceive) they expect you to be.
“Are you better yet? “
“Have you settled in yet?”
Both friendly well-meaning question but totally miss the magnitude of a chronic illness or an international move.
You need wade through the frustrations those questions might trigger, and see the good intentions behind them.  They know you’ve been to the doctor and/or had a debrief and they are wondering how it is all going.

Looking normal and healthy, but feeling tired all the time. Every little thing takes so much effort. You are busy working out a new normal, perhaps including how to sleep. Maybe the old normal way of sleeping isn’t an option anymore, so on top of it all you may be getting less quality sleep.

5.Even fun is hard work
Noticing you are tired and stressed, well-meaning people suggest you should take a break or to go out and have fun. But there is no way to take a break from yourself or your new life. Even ways of fun and relaxation have gone. It takes effort work out how to do it now.
So not only are you more stressed, but you also have no easy way to cope with stress like you did in your old life.

6.Trying not to sound like a broken record
Until recently things were easier and so so different, you can’t help but keep comparing. Every time you try to pay for something, or walk somewhere, it’s hard not to remember how different it is to before. Such a huge part of thought life, yet it feels like you shouldn’t keep boring everyone with “I used to know how to do laundry back in my host culture/before I got sick.”
And even if you do keep sharing this it becomes apparent people don’t really get that you feel like your arms have been chopped off.

You haven’t needed to go to a funeral, you still have all your limbs and your house has not burnt down. You look like anyone else but your normal routines of eating and sleeping are different, different ways of interacting with people and so much more that’s not mentioned here.
Unseen losses mean they might be unexpressed for years and may need to be unraveled somewhere down the track.

“Whoa- that sounds painful!”
It’s easy for others to acknowledge a scorpion sting but they don’t use exclamation marks when you mention that you are dizzy/tired or that you moved from overseas 6 months ago.

When people don’t know or believe you are struggling it “magnifies the pain” (Metzger, 2016). Unseen pain such as reentry, invisible illness and a myriad of other things become even harder.
The sting lasted less than 24 hours, while the worst of the dizziness was 24 months and beyond, so the comparison only goes so far, but according to Metzger, baldness attracts more interest than chronic fatigue syndrome.

“...research into CFS/ME is small, especially when considering the number of people sick and how devastating it is.  “I had looked up male pattern baldness … $18 million for male pattern baldness [but only] $3 million for chronic fatigue syndrome, an illness that affects 1 million people in this country (USA) that has at least 25 percent of them out of work and on disability.” (from Metzger, 2016)

About five years on from when we were living in Australia, I’m still realizing just how hard it was.  We entered culture shock and sickness all at once, as I wrote about here: The Dizzy Monster.
It’s only in the last few years that I’ve been able to think about it. I’ve found it a relief to read other’s stories, such as this one here on Fruitful Today. Kristy writes about how her life changed when she got sick, including how hard it was to be part of church initially, and how different it is now.  If you are sick or someone you know of is sick you might find Fruitful Today useful too!

And here are some blogs on reentry:

And linking up with Velvet Ashes as this week is about Returning.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Time capsule

My favourite way to peek into my past is currently using this blog, so I’m motivated to jot down things how they are now (in these few months)  before this “normal” travels into the past as well.

The most fun

Rockets, playing the mud, building things and using their torches (flashlights) are how the kids love filling their afternoons and evenings. During hot days they don’t get to play outside much until it starts getting dark. Recently it’s been dinner early then out to play until bath time. 

Morning routine

What was previously reserved for holidays is currently our daily routine! Pre-kids, and pre-moving to SR tuk tuk rides were for special occasions, and travelling alongside the river in SR with all its greenery was only ever done when we were having a break from the capital city. Sitting together, without the distraction of housework and toys sometimes ends up being the time the kids start asking me questions, or telling me things. Only a few months left and this will end!

And then we arrive at preschool. I often run into other parents, many from families who are also have one Khmer parent and one expat parent. Sometimes the parents are people were friends with before we all started at preschool, others I just started getting to know at drop off and pick up after hearing our kids talk about their kids at home. One family we actually met the first time in a supermarket. Another is a friend’s nanny’s other client from a couple of years ago. Other than Khmer the nationalities include but not limited too- Canadian, English , Australian, Irish, Philipino , Austrian and German.  Hoping we can stay in contact with some families when we finish up at preschool.

I still want to get a full size gas oven one day- but a toaster oven does the job for now.

A rush of new things

The size of our last house moved deceived me. It looked small, only a few kilometres away but we are still in transition. A rush of new things reminded me the other weekend.

First (proper) time to have friends over was so refreshing! We used to have weekly play dates at our old house, so it feels great to start having people over again. I don’t like to have people over until I’m settled in.....but I don’t feel settled in until I’ve had people over. One of the many moving house stresses.

A roof over our front door/outside steps- just in time for rainy season! Soeun installed a light too, we have been eating outside and then cleaning up in the dark. 

A mini electric oven joined the family- so bran loaf and zucchini slice cooking have resumed!

Bible Reading

After clearing out the Revelation sermons from my phone there was space for ones on the book of Isaiah. To help me I’ve also got Kirk Patston’s Surprising Salvation, and Howard Pesketts’s  Bible study book.

Weekly Psalm reading is in action at the moment! On Sunday the Khmer congregation read it chorally. At home we read bits of it in both languages throughout the week, here and there as we have time and concentration. Sunday just gone we read Psalm 12 at church, so this week at home we are reading Psalm 13. The kids can read numbers and some letters so they like trying to find it in the Bible.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

4 people 4 days- our KNY staycation

Some of the kids books on repeat during Hot Season staycation
One of our favourite things to do is to stay home alone. With traveling obligations, workman and relatives who live with us we hadn't been able to do it for awhile. Over Khmer New Year last month we had a chance and it was GREAT!!! There were 4 days with just the 4 of us at home.

We had just been given/lent some new-to-us kids books. The Astronaut book looks innocent but it launched our son into a huge rocket obsession!!! And the poetry book - at first I thought they would get bored as there were more words than pictures on the page..but the words were so amazing they were laughing and quoting the poems all week.

The kids are old enough to play and eat without too much help from us, but young enough not to know that everyone else was either travelling or having a huge water fight. Old enough for us to have relaxing time at home with them, and young enough not to be asking to go out....

Friday, April 13, 2018

My first scorpion sting!!!

From Facebook last month.......

"Can't sleep cos in pain.
Get up to get ibuprofen.
Get stung by scorpion.
Wasn't the painkiller run I was hoping for...
But my Primary Cultural Informant and Everyone on Natural Cambodia fb group told me I'm not going to die, so that's something."


We were excited to see this in our son's bag after school the other day. He LOVES  trucks, planes, boats etc, and these days is also really into counting things. So a maths worksheet using vehicles is so fun for him!

The season of town festivities, heat, looming goodbyes and homeschool resources.

If only my camera wasn't broken I would have taken photos of all the decorations that have been going up in town over the last little while. It's all so colourful and festive, its only our 4th Khmer New Year in Siem Reap so it still feels like a novelty after years in Phnom Penh.

This morning was our last tuk tuk ride into town before school shuts for KNY. All the big roads have stars dangling across and the river is lined with water fountains spurting water up out of the river, as well as huge circular white structures which I don't really know how to explain. The main bridge has yellow flower light shades on and above it. Tuk tuk rides used to be something I would normally only do in holidays, so catching a tuk tuk along a decorated river feels very holiday-like!

It felt like Cambodia had no seasons in my first year here. It was just hot all the time, and it was my first time my year wasn't planned out by the academic year. But now this time of year, hot season, does feel  hotter to me than the rest of the year (although both this year and last year we had some weirdly cold wet days in March /April). Combined with it being the biggest holiday of the year makes April feel quite different to every other month.

And then for the expat, its when the goodbyes are about to begin. Ever year some people go away for a month or more for "The Summer" , and others leave Cambodia for good. Which means that they spend these months selling and giving away everything in their house!

This year we have received some kids books and activities. At anytime this would be exciting, but especially so now as we are moving towards finishing up at preschool at the end of this year.

Unrelated to the season we were lent a box of homeschool resources that another family aren't using at the moment. It works out well as it will give us something to look through and work out if that's what we want to use or if we want to buy curriculum, or some combination. Otherwise I think I would be feeling like I have to research things more and have it all planned out and buy things ahead of time. Right now I feel like we've got plenty of books to read to the kids as well as space to place and things like puzzles as well as some counting activities and some phonics materials. So we'll start with that and work it out as we go along.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Kid free time is town these days

It has been such a cool time capsule experience to read some of my old blog posts from about a decade ago and remember how life was then, it's made me want blog more about our current days.

There were a few great months last year when I rode my bike back and to preschool in the mornings. From July last year until around November I had the mornings at home to myself. Being at home was time to get everything done in the kitchen and on the computer. Pre kids I used to ride all the time so it was fun to be able to do it again. And so so great to be at home without the kids for a couple of hours, cooking dinner was much quicker. Then in the afternoons we sometimes had people over or went to visit friends.

Since we moved there isn't really enough time to come back home while the kids are at preschool. Kind of frustrating, but it turns out I still can have some time to myself, just not cooking dinner- but we seem to have survived.  Some days I go food shopping or other errands, sometimes I see friends or do stuff with books and online (not much internet at home). There are a few friends who I only had spent time with on playdates before, but since moving I've met up with them in town sans kids for breakfast or a walk (a walk along the river!! I love living in Siem Reap!!I missed walking in my first years here in PP).

Weekday afternoon playdates have become much less of a feature since we moved. We used to visit or be visited weekly, but living a bit further out that can't happen. We haven't had expat kids over yet, and we mostly only go out to play on Saturdays now. So I haven't seen friends for awhile.. hopefully soon! There are a few leaving Cambodia in June, hoping for at least one more playdate.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Homeschool summit online.. worldwide this time.

So last year I watched some free seminars about homeschooling as I mentioned here.

Recently the same people ran another one, and it was also awesome. If/when we start homeschooling I'm hoping to spend more time and or money if they run more. I could watch for free, but only for a limited time. There were about 6 seminars each day over 6 days, but I only had time to watch one per day and only for the first 4 days. Next time hopefully I can plan ahead to either take the time off life to watch more for free, or pay so I can still have access to them after the time limit.

The first one was all Aussies, this one also had American presenters, also mums and experts in their fields, also enthusiastic. And like last time there were some really specific things to homeschool, like how to teach a high schooler science, but also things for all parents, like making time to be together and even creating a literacy rich  environment at home people may even want to do even if their kids go to school.

I scribbled some notes in a green notebook.. will read and make some notes later...

Learning about homeschooling month

Our oldest and I stayed with a homeschooling family in early Feb and in mid Feb I watched some of an online summit from Fearless Homeschool.

Then we started to think about if we were going to be a homeschooling family how do we want to set up our family life/house/lifestyle. Visiting friends and the summit had given me lots of ideas of what other people do and things to think about.

Then at the end of the month one of our kids had an eye infection so we 4 all stayed home together for most of the week. Soeun and I took turns to cancel and/or postpone what we had been going to do. Our oldest is really into numbers at the moment, so there was lots of counting happening and writing out numbers. It was stressful to suddenly loose all our kids free time, but great to have that happen when we were actually thinking through how to be a homeschool family. And I realised the kids are older now, so actually having them at home is quite different to even six months ago.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Christmas at our house

I wrote this ages ago.. didn't get time to finish it.. but anyway here it is. I've been reading my blog from years ago and realised I want to publish this so we can remember our first Christmas in our new house.

Basically we had a day at home together! Preschool was still on, but we kept the kids home.

The Advent craft

Since we moved to Siem Reap a few years ago we spend December painting toilet rolls green. Then if we finish it in time, it becomes our Christmas tree!

The decorations

We have some still in boxes from the move. Our house could have been Christmassy, but I had other priorities. 

The food

Before the day I went to some European bakeries and deli/butcher. I bought some sliced ham, cheese and breads. Sourdough, bagels, pretzels, stollen, mince pies etc. I also bought and prepared our favourite salad veggies. So it was all ready to go whenever we wanted a meal.

The Christmas Eve, delightfully Sunday this year

The outing

Christmas Eve the 4 of us went to an expat house church for Christmas snack, singing and talking about Jesus. We had to stop on the way to check the map. Remembering our pre-2011 life when we lived on the edge of town, there was only the paper map for tourists , it didn't extend out to where we live. Things are so different now!

The Christmas morning

Mat time- singing, reading the story of the birth of Jesus and opening our present. The blank drawing book and new crayons kept us all busy for awhile.

The changed plans

In the afternoon we were going to do our Linner and Lights outing that we normally do around the middle of Dec, but we ended up needing to delay it again.  I think the Christmas lights will be up for awhile yet anyway.

The Sound track

As we four enjoyed our day at home on Dec 25, we could hear some weird clangy music and monks chanting. It was sort of similar to one of the many ceremonies we often hear, but Soeun said it was something he hadn't heard before. It must have been some local ceremony.

Christmas Eve at Bang Bang. Mince pies all gone. We bought the 2nd last stollen.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Getting over 2011 and entering the New World

“If only there was an overhead foot bridge”, I said to my friend as we were talking about how busy the traffic is on street 2011 in the north west of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. She and her young children live on one side, and the market is on the other. The market is so close but hard to get to, street 2011 cuts her off. Ten years ago it was a quiet dirt road. Five years ago it was sealed and had a lot more traffic.  Now it’s really busy. 

Trip to Phnom Penh, February  2018.

A recent trip back to the capital felt like I was travelling both back in time and yet forward into the future as well, even though it is only about 300 kilometres (198 miles) away from where we live now. I first came to Cambodia 12 years ago, one cycle of the Chinese animal zodiac.  Although we’ve been in Siem Reap for a few years now most of my Cambodia years to date we lived in Phnom Penh. Visiting the capital I had some reminders of those first weeks back in 2006. It was all still there, yet at the same time so many new unfamiliar things.

“Near the Grilled Chicken Market” isn’t one  of the usual survival phrases you would learn when first stepping off the plane into a new country, but for me it was.  I spent my first week in Cambodia staying in a mission centre, and that was the phrase I used to find my way back home each day. Hearing the phrase and using it again this month spookily transported me right back to January 2006.

It seemed incongruous that I was using the phrase to visit a friend who I had met only months before, she’s part of my new life in Siem Reap, but now living right “near the Grilled Chicken Market”.

Similarly the picture of the coffee plunger (French Press) on the Jars of Clay menu reminded me of the first time I went to Jars of Clay café after a hot sweaty day at the Russian Market. I got totally lost and couldn’t find anywhere cool to sit, so when I finally found Jars it was very memorable.  In those days the café was over 10km from our place in Phnom Penh Thmey (1 hour bike ride for me), so I found it so bizarre last month that I was sitting in a second branch of Jars up north right near my old house.

The whole trip was full of these incongruous long forgotten twelve year old memories mixed with strange new futuristic things such as PassApp (like Uber for tuktuks). I had been expecting a boring need-to-renew-a-passport trip but it turned out to be such a weird and wonderful experience.

Photo: Hanoi Road, somewhere between the Bible school turn off and street 1986, back in 2008

It seems to me that the biggest changes took place 2011-12, the central years of my time in Cambodia so far.  At the end of 2010, Logos International School moved to the area and other expats I knew started moving there for the first time.  Straight after that in January 2011 we went to Australia for two years and by the time we got back Phnom Penh Thmey was almost unrecognizable.

It felt like housing estates, mostly built by the New World Group, had devoured every small wooden house, rice paddy and even a good size pond in the north west of the city.  It went from mostly open skies and dusty tracks, to hundreds and hundreds of big fancy brick houses and cement roads.  The small lake had turned into a market. Back in Christmas 2010 one person from my expat Bible study group had moved to the area, but now there were so many members living in Phnom Penh Thmey the group had actually started meeting there.

Photo: Also Hanoi Road, also somewhere between Bible school turn off and street 1986, but this one is from 2018.

While these changes were taking place in Cambodia we were living inAustralia and the world of undiagnosed debilitating sickness. It took us by surprise; life was transformed when The Dizzy Monster began his attack.

Being out of the country while Phnom Penh Thmey  morphed from outskirts of town to the new ‘place to be’, combined with the our own huge changes we experienced while in Australia meant that we were entering a New World when we returned in 2013. It was like everything from our old life had unexpectedly and abruptly gone.

So no wonder all the changes in Phnom Penh have such a big impact on me. The year 2011 cuts my 12 years in half.  Just like street 2011 is hard to cross, getting over the year 2011 for me feels almost like leaving one world that ended in 2010, and entering a New World.

Up until 2010 I used to ride my bike out just past the Bible school to enjoy the sunset and palm trees. This vacant plot had a fence around it, I guess it used to be a school or something. Just before we went to Aus in 2011 they started sealing the road as you can see in this photo. By the time we arrived back in 2013 it had become a housing estate, and we lived there for two years! When I took this I was heading along the Bible school road  (Street 72P) almost to 2011. 

And here it is, the remote vacant lot that  I used to ride past in 2010 became one of the many New World Housing Estates that was built around 2011 in the north west of Phnom Penh, near street 2011.
Linking up with Velvet Ashes as last week was Travel.... and this week is change.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January 2018

Most of November and December the kids were sick, as you can see from the previous post. I do actually have a draft of our Christmas which I'll finish and post later on, but first January:

This month seemed to be full of excitement, but not the good type. 

There was that time, after a long day when I finally got the ten eggs home safely and then dropped them at our front gate and broke all of them at once. And not a small crack either, they all had holes big enough for the yolks to come out.

Or the evening when I finally had the house to myself, for the first time ever since  we moved. Between kids, relatives and workmen I don't think I've ever been home by myself, cafes are the only place I have solitude. So excited to be home alone that I locked myself out... had to meet the neighbours.

And from facebook :

My cooking tip for this week: 
Don't put something on the stove then forget about it and have a nap unless your mother in law is staying and wonders what the burning smell is. In my defense I was quite tired and had a headache.

My laundry tip for this week: 
If you are going to need to go all the way back home with a sick boy , to make it worth it you should make sure he vomits on your front AND back AND in your hair and on your jeans.

Weird atmosphere today in our neighbourhood. Strangely overcast day, plus people are burning rubbish more than normal. So its kind of dark and the air is all white and smells smokey. Also windy and cold.

Although there were also some nice things:

"Even more strong and amazing than Daddy" our preschooler trying to describe God. 

A nice surprise yesterday! Originally I was going to be in Phnom Penh this week to renew a passport. I was hoping I would be able to catch up with a friend I met over 10 years ago in language class. She is leaving Cambodia soon so it would by my last chance to see her. However I ended up having to delay my trip so I assumed I wouldn't see her this week. BUT then she randomly appeared on the street in Siem Reap yesterday morning. A nice happy surprise in the midst of a weird month.