Sunday, 19 March 2017

Distinctive things about this season

When you trip over a hard green mango in the front yard,
and feel so hot and sweaty you get sick of drinking normal water
 you know hot season is approaching.
We've bought a case of soda water,
started eating sweet soft mangoes daily
 and even enjoyed at least 2 power cuts.

Some other things particular to this month for us include some paperwork/admin stuff we need to work on so we can both be legal in each other's countries.

In some ways they are both kind of straight forward but feel a like a big weight to me.
Maybe because working out what we need to do isn't straight forward,
and maybe because they are so important to do,
and maybe because its hindered by limited internet access (internet playing up, power cuts, kids etc), and maybe because both governments are quite  different to each other, so its quite amusing/confusing to be doing both at once.

We've also had a couple of people sick. One means that we loose sleep and shuffle around what we do during the day, the other one is a longer term shuffling project we are working on. 

It feels like a lot of things are happening this month!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Out with baby days

Our younger toddler is growing up! First proper toothbrush today, and yesterday her first moto helmet. Her "words"are starting to sound more like words now. Just this morning she said "door", and this week some of her new words include spoon, ball, more, sit, cheese.
She already can say mummy and daddy words, as well as two and three in both languages and"chicken" and "cooked rice"in Khmer thanks to a recent visit from her Cambodian grandma!
She can also say poo, wee, fish and please.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

I thought I knew that

Recently I was surprised by my own surprise. 

Our washing machine broke 5.5 weeks ago. We had especially bought it brand new from a good shop so we wouldn't have to deal with it breaking a lot. 
But after 2 years it broke. Boo.

The first thing out of my mouth was "Well, I guess I'll take the washing to a laundry shop or see if I can use a friend's machine." Soeun laughed at me- "No, we'll just wash our clothes." 

To him hand washing clothes is the normal, easy and logical thing to do, my suggestions sounded ridiculous to him. Likewise his suggestion of hand washing all the clothes and sheets and towels that the 4 of us use just sounds really hard, it didn't even consider it.

Our broken washing machine strapped onto a moto about to ride over bumpy dusty roads to the fix it shop.

I already know Soeun grew up without a washing machine, and that most people in Cambodia don't even have mains power , let alone a washing machine. And it's not like we just have one by default. When we were thinking about getting married we considered how we were going to live as a Khmer/Australia family in Cambodia and whether or not a washing machine would be part of that.  Yet I was still really surprised by Soeun's reaction to our broken washing machine.

Its not the first time I've been surprised by my own surprise. There was also the time I went to teach English in my first year and no students turned up. I had been told that often people don't go out in the rain, but it wasn't until I saw it that I really got it. 

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas in a tropical tourist temple town

After most of my adult life in Asian cities where Christmas is not/was not  really noticeable, I'm now living in a small town that seems to mostly run on tourism.
I'm partly amused, and partly annoyed and partly enjoying the fact that Siem Reap has a Christmassy feel. Hotels have light displays, bookshops sell tinsel and Santa Clause clothes for all sizes and the expat community is discussing which places have the best Christmas dinner. 
Even our fried rice shop has put up tinsel and Coke cans!
Bookshops around town are selling gift wrapping, decorations and Santa outfits for kids. This shop has a mannequin dressed in a red dressing and white beard. 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Phew! time to take a breath

It feels like the busyness and stress of the last couple of month is easing!

 Since I got married things usually get more busy around this time of year as Khmer churches put on huge Christmas celebrations so Soeun is usually extra busy this month. And while there is lots of Christmas busyness happening at church how its worked out with Soeun's subjects and other things means things feel less deadline-ish and intense for us this week.

So now we are catching up on all those odd jobs (Soeun just got the data off my broken laptop and fixed the kitchen leak) and thinking about how we are going to celebrate our wedding anniversary!

We actually have 3 days in a row free so we could have gone somewhere but decided staying home will be more restful. Its such nice weather at this time of year, and there are so many touristy cafes to visit and Christmas lights to see. Siem Reap feel like the perfect holiday destination for us right now!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

the puzzle pieces were in place....

I have a working laptop now! After 8 years the other one gave up. Sorry if you sent me an email over the last month, if you are waiting for something from me you may need to send it again.

We thought we had childcare and household stuff all worked out to fit around Soeun's teaching for Oct&Nov but a few unexpected things happened. No show nanny, a virus etc means the kids haven't played with others for over a week now. It really makes a difference.

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.