Tuesday, 6 September 2016

"Context is your friend"

My teacher was famous for saying that. I heard about it before I studied with him. Then it turned out he did say it a lot in class so we all joked about it while we were in
his class, and still think about that phrase over a decade and a half later.  It’s so useful in so many situations.

I remember seeing a friend lug his laptop to a café in Phnom Penh years ago.  I suggested to the visiting Australian that he might like to just go to an internet cafe and use a computer there. It was cheaper and easier.  No need to carry your computer in crazy traffic and you only pay a few cents per half hour instead of having to buy a café drink.

A couple of years later I went to Australia and noticed many people use the internet on their own laptops, and they are used to it. His decision had seemed strange to me while in Cambodia, but when I saw the context he was used to being in it made perfect sense.

If I, an Aussie get confused about what’s happening in Australia these days it feels like there is even a bigger gap for people who live in Australia and want to know what’s happening in Cambodia. Sometimes there’s moments when I realize people reading our newsletters are missing so much context but it’s great that they can pray anyway.

And then it’s quite overwhelming to think how this applies to me not understanding the Cambodian context that I live in. And then another huge jump to think about the gap between Cambodians who have never been to Australia and how they would see me and all the weird things I do.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

barang health and safety

A workman was setting alight a pile of rubbish leftover from construction work. Some nylon bags, things leftover from painting and building. It smelt and looked toxic!

 I was glad the French lady who runs the daycare centre asked them to wait until after the kids went home, otherwise our toddler would have been breathing in that smoke while he ran around outside.

There are burning piles of rubbish everywhere, even it town where we have rubbish collection so we don't need to deal with all our rubbish ourselves. Mostly the piles near our house a leaves so it's not too bad.

The daycare centre attached to the French school is where our toddler has been going over the last 6 months or so. Starting  him there was the first time we had left him with people other than family.

As an Aussie living in Cambodia there are always so many things which seem risky and dangerous to me, and from my Aussie point of view a huge lack of safety regulations, or if there are written rules about it people don't really consider it important. It's natural that people do what they have always done and what others around them do I guess.

So I was happier to leave him with a French person in charge, I'm assuming she has a similar idea of health and safety issues to me. Even if a Cambodian had good intentions it's doesn't mean they would look after a child in a way that a Western would consider safe.

But of course living here means taking some risks (risks according to my Aussie pov). Somethings are necessary, but sometimes its hard to work out which things I should just go with so we can be part of life here or which things I should choose differently so we can be safer (even if it means we look weird).

Monday, 22 August 2016

fascinations and frustrations of the last fortnight

We've all had colds/flu over the last 2 weeks. Not much sleep! All out of routine with cooking and shopping. Things already felt a bit hard just with the normal stuff (baby, toddler, Dizzy Monster) so this felt a bit too hard.

But also have found myself fascinated by the kids language development, and with a friend have been talking about bringing up bilingual kids. Today on our facebook group we just created people started sharing and recording tickle games in Khmer!

We're at a transition sort of period which is why things are hard as well. The baby has outgrown coming to Bible study with me, and the toddler is finishing up at his current daycare. We need to start some new things and plans are underway. Previously  I was feeling like it's going to be hard to adjust to the new stuff but after these last 2 weeks when it has felt like we are just getting through each day- I'm feeling ready! Even if the next few weeks are hard in terms of sleep etc, as least we're making a change and heading for some new hopefully good routines.

A baby's life of Es

She loves seeing Big Brother playing and dancing. She watches his every move and tries to copy him with a huge smile on her face.

As soon as the music begins she starts dancing and singing. Her whole body is moving.

When Daddy comes home she starts trying to jump up to meet him.

She loves finding things she can drop on the floor so she can say “Uh oh!”

The way she concentrates as she pulls herself up on to the bed. Or the way she tries to take the lid off something.

Being tickled makes her laugh so hard she falls over.

Crawling towards an open door before Mummy can catch her.

Although she can’t walk by herself yet she can push a plastic chair across the room. It’s a new way to see the world from this upright position, a new type of independence.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

When the Dizzy Monster joined the family

Here is our story of what happened when we lived in Australia a few years ago. Soeun got sick, its published here on My Migraine Brain.
The events of those years I wrote about in the Timeline on Chronic Kronicle .

raising bilingual kids

"Ask Grandma if she wants to come in." I said to my toddler today as his Khmer Grandma stood outside the front door.

He turned to her and did just what I asked in Khmer! I was surprised and impressed.

He speaks to me in English so it's hard for me to know what his Khmer is like.

He often goes on church trips and outings where everyone else is Khmer, so that's when he gets to hear a lot of Khmer, when I'm not there.

Just in that moment today it was nice to see that he understood me in English, and he knew to speak Khmer to Grandma, and he knew how to say it in Khmer.

So far it feels like it's just kind of happened , our kids are being exposed to two languages. But recently I've been chatting to a friend in a similar family situation and feeling like we need to make an effort to make sure the kids have some Khmer language exposure at this point in their lives.

We're raising Khmer kids in Cambodia with the one Khmer parent, so it should be easy, right?

English is so important to Cambodians so many people know it, even some toddlers at church seem to know English and speak it with their parents.  Apart from the government schools it seems like most schools are in English. My friend has been searching high and low all over town to find a school with a Khmer program.

It seems like reading to and singing to our kids comes naturally to many parents from English speaking countries, but its not such a big thing for Cambodians.

There are less books and less literacy around to start with, unlike where I come from most people can read and write and it's really important to us. We've been reading books to our kids since they were babies, some other expats gave me their old board books they had for their kids. We have made an effort to seek out some Khmer kids books, and we read those too. But in volume its never going to compare to all the amazing kids books in English.

And singing- so many songs in English to sing with and for kids. Including the alphabet song- so long before you actually start reading you already know the alphabet. There is an alphabet sort-of song ish in Khmer, our toddler has been learning it too, but it doesn't seem to have the same place in the culture.

I've been asking around and searching for Khmer kids songs, I haven't really come up with that much. A friend has offered to teach us some she translated from English, so that will be fun! And another friend directed us to some songs made by a project to teach health, they are also fun and easy to listen to. But so far I haven't found anything like our nursery rhymes.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Better health these days

Thankful for good health over the last month. The months prior to that were full of fevers and tummy things, thankfully nothing long running or too dangerous. Although Soeun has been more sick than usual recently, but we are thankful it's not as constant and debilitating as when we are in Australia.

Also thankful for this website by a chronically ill Christian. She writes to help sick people as well as to be a bridge between chronically ill and the church. If have chronic illness in your life then you'll know why that's important, and if you don't you can read and find out! Fruitful Today

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!