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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Magical month

That magical time of year when the weather is backwards.

My friends in Aus are complaining of the heat, apparently in the 40s. Meanwhile here in the tropics we are wearing all our clothes. That one time of year when we don't feel too hot.

In fact this week is actually uncomfortably cold! Made worst by the fact that I used lots of our clothes to pack the kitchen breakables (in lieu of bubble wrap), and we haven't built the kitchen cupboards yet, so we haven't unpacked all the plates yet. So we are cold.

I'm starting to feel used to our new routines. Where we lived before I could ride my bike home from preschool drop off and have over an hour of kid free time to do stuff on the computer and in the kitchen. Skype. Cook dinner. Talk to husband in full sentences.

But it feels like I've lost my exercise and my kids free time at home for now, so its a bit frustrating, but slowly working out new routines.

Kids still sick, a string of seemingly unrelated things.  Five different skin issues. Various tummy things. We've talked about the new water and soil, maybe the sand, etc etc. Each illness is so minor and doesn't seem obviously connected to the other ones, but its been over a month and a half now.

And weirdly, I'm still not sick!! Despite being sleep deprived and surrounded by germs.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Adjusting: sickness...

I’m starting to feel like I might be superhuman.

 Well, no, not really. But we are very thankful and amazed that I haven’t been sick over the last month.  So many bodily fluids flowing around me- green snot, yellow diarrhea and vomit (various colours); as well as a few different rashes plus migraine and cold/flu symptoms. 

Since we moved the 4 of us have been sleeping in one room together while work continues on the house. Despite the continuous streams of colour, and the sleep deprivation that comes when one quarter of your bedmates are vomiting overnight and another quarter are coughing , I seem to have (so far?!) escaped sickness.

Storms are a migraine trigger, and this years storms extended a few more weeks than we expected. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

New view

Follow the Lamb

those who have received the mark of the beast on their foreheads
persecution and threat of martyrdom
the incompleteness of 666

the dragon and his first beast whose habitat is the unruly sea
the Lamb who stands on firm and holy ground

the completeness of 144,000  
security in Mount Zion
those who have the name of the Lamb and of his Father written on their foreheads


I really like how John Stott writes about the contrasts between Revelation 13 and 14 in the Bible study book we are using.   These are all his phrases, I just rearranged them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Reading Psalms at church

Psalm 135. NIV & MSG

Singing and Psalm reading are my favourite things at church these days.

Mostly Sundays are really hard. Between being non Khmer, a mother of young kids, a wife of a preacher/musician - there are so many factors that make church a completely different  experience to  how I used to think of it.

Singing and choral reading of Psalms seem to be the most enjoyable for me as a non native speaker. If the kids let me I can actually participate. Each week we read the next Psalm, so we can even be reading the Psalm though out the week as we know what is coming up.

Mostly I think of The Message as more poetic than translations ('worthless things' vs 'toys and trinkets'  Ps 119:37) but in Psalm 135: 6 the NIV seems much more poetic to me. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Recording the "Firsts " before this time morphs into routine

Today is the first time I'm cooking pancakes since moving about 2 weeks ago!
I've mostly been eating bread, salad veggies, cheese, tinned tuna.  I haven't really started cooking meals yet as we aren't unpacked or settled. But I have made hummus, egg salad and a chocolate cake in the rice cooker. No oven yet, a few essentials to get in place before getting the fun things.

We've never had a full size oven, they cost so much and I'm the only one so far who would really appreciate it, so hasn't felt like a good idea to spend the money. But with the kids getting older it might be worth it.

On Thursday I had my first walk to the market from here, our son helped me buy some veggies and fruit.  The other day we had some friends over for lunch, our first white visitors (actually only one is barang).

Transport and daily routines still feel a bit all over the place.

If you look at my Instagram it turns out I've been mostly taking photos of the sky and mud, such a different and amazing view.