October 2016

October 3, 2016: Puerto Princesa-Manila, Philippines to Singapore

I do believe we were in some of the more underdeveloped parts of the Philippines this entire six weeks. It’s okay, though. We are all different people now because we have all experienced it and survived and for the most part cam away with some really good feelings.

As we left our place in Puerto Princesa I took a poll to see what everyone’s very favorite part of the Philippines was. Averi’s favorite was island hopping at Honda Bay. Claire’s favorite thing was everything. She had a really hard time picking one thing. She ended up saying Dumaguete, snorkeling, Cebu and Bohol. Tage’s favorite thing was the chungy stores. Jake and I had the same very favorite moment and that was in Oslob on Sumilon island where we were all out snorkeling together as family.

October 8, 2016: Setia Alam, Malaysia

We ran all over Singapore for four days. I was exhausting and we consistently went to bed late each night. The day we arrived was a Sunday, Conference Sunday. We did not attend church in Singapore because of our late night and very early morning arrival. Our plan was to watch conference, but between trying to get food for breakfast, planning our short stay, and figuring out the public transportation we did not do well at listening to conference. I will be studying it on my own time. I have been looking forward to conference for weeks now.

We did go out to eat for lunch and dinner as the place we rented did not have any hot plate. The eateries are so nearby and extremely inexpensive. We walked around the neighborhood, found the grocery store and mall and public transportation. It was a productive day for us.

We picked our top attractions that intrigued us and came up with a plan. Like most plans made in life, they had to be changed, but at least we were able to work around it. The one thing I wanted to do was the treetop walk, but Monday morning, when we planned to do it- I looked it up and it is closed on Mondays. I’m just glad we looked it up before we went all the way out there. Instead we found a mall that sold Apple products so Jake could purchase a new laptop. The first store did not have the item he needed in stock. We found another store in the same mall that sold Apple products and they had it in stock. I cried a little and gave a prayer of gratitude for the blessing it will be for Jake to be able to work again. Even more blessings flowed when we paid less than what we had originally paid for the item. Now the work can begin.

We purchased the Singapore CityPass for two days. We thought that would be the best way to see a lot of Singapore. It proved to be a great choice for only having a short time there. We hopped on the bus, which the children loved. It had an open top for them to look out and see the sights. We were on the city bus that took us to several stops and we were going from morning until well past bedtime.

The night tour was okay. We went back to Gardens by the Bay- we had the place memorized by this point. We watched the light and music show again, this time we found a spot on the lawn and laid down to watch it. I was really losing steam at this point in the night. It was a long day with lots of walking and lots of stimulation. After meandering for a while until it was time to board the bus again, we made our way through different parts of Singapore. There is such a heavy European influence here that I was not expecting. The tour guide gave us various facts about Singapore and different buildings in the area. The night tour ended at Bugis Street. We didn’t know this fact until after we had secured our spot on the night tour. At 9:30pm we arrived at Bugis Street which is a large night market. It was hopping. I wish I had more energy at that point to go look around, but really, I just wanted to go home and sleep. I literally felt like I had nothing left to give. We did find a McDonald’s and got an ice cream. It was something that kept us going because the next hour was crazy! There we were at McDonald’s standing around the street eating our cones. Once done, we take off trying to find the metro station to take us back home. We walked forever trying to find some orientation of where we were. We were told that you could get anywhere from Bugis Street as there were buses and metros right in the area. You will not even guess what happened next. On and on we are walking, the children are getting tired, but being incredibly good sports about it all. (We were lost a lot in Singapore walking around.) It was approaching 10:30pm and we were slowly making a large circle until we finally came back to where we had started at McDonald’s and right across the street was the metro station. We were there the whole time and didn’t even know it. It was a bit frustrating, now it’s quite funny. We made it on the metro and all fell quickly asleep when we arrived back home.

October 15, 2016: Setia Alam, Malaysia

We have enjoyed our week in Malaysia although we have stayed home for the most part. We needed to get work done and the children needed to get some school work done after taking almost a week off to see Singapore. It always takes a while to get bearings when we are in a new place. We are staying on the 30th level in a high-rise in a city called Setia Alam in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. The large high-rise has a pool, playground, sport courts, a gym, and BBQ stations. There are three towers and we are in tower B. We all love the space we have here. It feels like a natural place for us to be. We have three bedrooms and two bathroom which is more than we have had before. The space is great. We do not have a cooktop, but our host provided us with an air fryer. We also have a rice cooker, microwave, and water filter. We have a full set of dishes and a fridge. It is a well equipped kitchen, just really small. We have a large kitchen table which is perfect for our needs. There is no comfy couch to sit on to watch the television, but in ten days we have only turned it on once.

October 17, 2016: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I couldn’t let today pass without giving a full account of our escapades. Today was a dream come true for me and I am so, so happy to say that I’ve been to Batu Caves in Malaysia! I have been looking forward to this long before we started on this wonderful adventure. I first saw Batu Caves on The Amazing Race several years ago. It always intrigued me and to stand where that giant golden statue is has really been an amazing experience.

I had my eye set on the giant golden fertility god that I had looked at pictures of so often. You can imagine how my heart sank when scaffolding was all around it ruining all my pictures. What luck! They seem to be doing extensive renovations to the place and by the looks of it, it could use it. While we were taking pictures a Japanese family asked Jake to take a picture of them, which he did. I then asked if he would take a picture of our family, to which he kindly did. After a bit the same family came up to us and said, “Your boy is so cute, can we get a picture with him?” We usually consent to the request, which happens often, if the situation does not seem weird. We called all the kids together and I was so happy to finally get a picture of the people taking a picture of the kids. It happened so often in the Philippines, but I was always too slow with the camera.

We also held a short family council on how we are doing with this months goals: personal morning and evening prayers, speaking kind words to each other, talking in quiet voices to one another, and how we are enjoying this adventure abroad. We all still have work to do in all areas. That is the beauty of having family council. It helps us remember what we are working on as a family.

October 21, 2016: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Today was a rough day. It started out well enough, but derailed so quickly. It is probably from going to sleep so late two nights in a row. Going to bed too late is not good for me. I woke up before anyone, got out the door to get some exercise which last about an hour and felt great. I came back up, everyone was still asleep so I got some breakfast and started working on the website. That darn website!

I get so frustrated by WordPress and my ineptness at working it. Today I just wanted to change the font that is on the posts. I don’t like it because it’s too big, it’s too boxy. In Blogger, everything was so easy to fix and change with a click of a button. WordPress, while powerful for those who know code, is completely useless to me.

There was a lot on my plate today that I felt pressing: the website, the laundry, the grocery shopping, schooling, writing a talk for church on Sunday…it was all adding up and my head was exploding. When I couldn’t get the fonts to change on the website, I sort of went in a downward spiral.

I took the laundry to get done with just Claire. She was a big helper and we were able to plan out her talk. She is all ready for Sunday. I wonder when I’m going to write my talk? I’ve had some ideas floating around in my mind, but nothing on paper. The laundry took almost two hours, which is normal. I did drive to the laundromat and back without a GPS and that is amazing! It’s really close and easy to get to, but even I can mess that distance up somehow. Claire enjoyed the one on one time with me even though she thought she was going to be playing at the park.

Living abroad in the way that we do takes a lot of energy both physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are so many times I can’t hardly think at night when I get in bed, yet I can’t sleep either because I have so much on my mind. That and the lights shining into our bedroom are so bright. There needs to be another curtain panel put on the drapery rod so Jake and I can sleep without eye masks. I’m sure it is a great site. One of the children should take our picture one of these days.

Last night we went to iCity in Shah Alam. Sister Sophie met us for dinner at a restaurant called Murni. It is a mix of Chinese and Malaysian food. We ordered several different dishes and shared between us. We had delicious naan and tandoori, a roti Hawaiian dish, spaghetti for Claire and Tage, and a rice and chicken dish. We also ordered a large specialty drink that was actually massive. It had lychee in it and this type of coconut flesh, it was pretty tasty and very sweet. I always feel quite heavy and lethargic after eating out here. The food is very oily and heavy.

What I really want to remember from this night happened at the ropes course. Sophie wanted to treat the girls to doing the ropes course. Tage was too short, so Jake took him to do another activity. After purchasing the card used to pay for the activity and getting the girls excited to do it, the man said Averi was too tall. Averi was crushed and had tears in her eyes. Claire, who is so tender hearted and nurturing, saw Averi’s reaction. Claire began crying as well. Then, they hugged a tight, warm hug for several seconds! I about fell to my knees in gratitude for witnessing that special moment. Averi, of all people, hugging her sister in public like that! Then Averi said, “She is so nice!” It really melts a mom’s heart to see that type of love. Claire did do the ropes course and Averi cheered her on. These moments are why we are doing this! That is what I want in our family.

Sophie is our angel mom here in Malaysia. She has been so generous to loan us her car while we are here, takes us to dinner, and meets us for dinner and comes with us on our crazy adventures. She is enjoying the children and I think we are blessing her life in a way as well. Sophie’s children are all in Utah and Canada. She doesn’t get to see her grandchildren often and her husband is not a member of the church. He drinks with his friends at night and I feel like she is probably very lonely. She has latched on to us and I am grateful for it.

Today I have longed for the past life of shopping for clothes when I need them. Looking cute and not wearing t-shirts all the time- What was I thinking?! I have longed to cook in an oven and tonight I thought I smelled a chocolate chip cookie. For real, in our apartment.

Homeschooling is going great. I love it. I think the children are really loving it. They like the books we are reading and the curriculum is hands down the best for us.

As it is now approaching midnight and I don’t sleep well as it is…I had better be in a good mood so that school work gets done in the morning. It’s all about attitude and looking for the good in life. Yes, this style of life taxes me at times. However, there is one glaring, obvious bit of knowledge I have and that is I KNOW we are doing the right thing.

October 27, 2016: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We have had a fun couple of days previous to this one. On the 25th we went to KLCC. This is our first venture into the city since coming here about three weeks ago. We were dropped of at the Klang train station and made our way to KL Central where we exited the train and found Little India. We found Little India, but none of the sites I had planned. KLCC is so confusing and the maps are just as confusing to figure out. I don’t know if it’s the streets or the maps that are convoluted. Maybe just both. I have no idea where we are going half the time and no idea how we find our way anywhere.

We did find a 152 years old Taoist temple that was on my list. A gentleman there was very excited to give us a tour of the place and teach us about each of the gods they pray to.

We walked to Chinatown which took about 20 minutes. It was a long walk and the children got along really well. We found Petaling Street where all the Chinese are selling their goods to the tourists. Jake found a selfie stick that he was very excited about. He had fun taking selfies the rest of the day, so did the children.

I can honestly say that I am so sick of Chinese, Malaysian, Filipino…Asian food in general. It has so much oil, the smells are intense, I feel so heavy after I eat it. I am so ready to not eat it anymore. Rice is something I would be very fine with not having for a very long time. I don’t want fried rice for a very long time, I don’t want to smell Asian noodles for a long time, either. But don’t worry, Thailand and the Philippines are sure to have more rice and noodles. Yay-note the dripping sarcasm.

we did see many of the site listed for Merdeka Square and we were able to easily find Merdeka Square from Chinatown. It was a short walk and we came across a clock tower, some old shops, and the first brick built Mosque in Malaysia. It was under renovation, like much of Malaysia has been, so we were unable to go inside. We went by the Sultan Abdul Samad building, the most famous building in Kuala Lumpur until the building of the Petronas Towers. We found the large I (heart) KL photo spot. As soon as it was our turn for a picture, the rains came pouring down. We took cover in a tourist information shop which also happened to be the lobby of an art gallery. We were ushered out of the lobby when we took a seat on the ground. “It looks bad for business” we were told. We are always being told we are doing something wrong in this country, well, every country we’ve been in we have had to stop doing something. Oops! Tourists… We don’t do it on purpose.

By the time we got back on the train it was around 8pm and it took an hour and a half to get back to the station to be picked up by Sister Sophie. We were all exhausted, but Sister Sophie always has plans. She gave us left over food of all kinds, like a lot of it. She bought us candy and a fruit cordial drink. It was just a lot of food and she loves to share it with us. We then went to her friends’ house to pick up her car. Her other car broke down and it was now ready for her to pick up. We went inside the house of her friends who don’t speak English and they shared almost all the food they had out of their pantry with us. We tried so many new foods that I had to stop. I was quite nervous about getting food poisoning. I just have a real fear of it, so I am really cautious about what I eat. We had different cakes, fried snack food, coconut jelly which is actually green in color and kinda good, fried bread, Jake had a durian popsicle, cashews, fruit, Indian fried cracker thing, and some red bean paste scone appetizers. It was just a lot of food. We were finally able to get out of the house around 10:45pm. They were so generous and kind and sent us home with some of their food as well. We had a car full of food between them and Sophie.

At 11:30pm we arrived home and crashed in our beds. At 9:30am Priya, a friend from church, picked the children and me up for an outing. She took us to Kuala Selangor where a civil war was fought long ago. It was a beautiful area with a lighthouse and overlooked the ocean. We toured a museum where we learned more about the history of Kuala Selangor and I had a fascinating time.

We walked around the hill the lighthouse is on and out came a whole group of monkeys. At first they came out one by one and then more monkeys started running to the location we were at. Tage was quite interested in being very near them. Claire is still not afraid of them, even after her experience at Batu Caves. These monkeys were aggressive if they saw you had food, but were not aggressive if you had none. These monkeys are also a different variety than the monkeys you see at Batu Caves. A man with a small cart had green beans, carrots, peanuts, and other food to buy to feed the monkeys with. As we walked a little further down the road we saw so many monkeys. There were hundreds of monkeys all around. It was sort of thrilling to see them running in their native land, but kind of creepy as well.

Priya had another location she wanted to take us to so we got back in the car and drove for thirty minutes. She said she wanted to take us to a Chinese wishing tree. I had no idea what she was talking about and then when we pulled into the parking area I recognized the tree from an episode in the Amazing Race reality show. I was so excited to be here! How cool to see something else from one of my favorite shows.

October 31, 2016: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Priya and Dennis came to pick us up a bit before dinner one evening. We took the scenic route to see Fireflies! They took this weird way neither of them had been before, and we enjoyed talking and getting to know each other a bit better. They are just so nice and kind. They paid for our family at the firefly place. We each picked a lifejacket and walked to the boat dock. After boarding the boat in the pitch black of night we took a little jaunt on the river to see bushes lit up like Christmas trees along waters edge.

Halloween was great in one way this year: there was no excessive candy to deal with for months on end. To make it a little special for the kids we took them to the mall and they were able to pick out one small toy or item as a treat. Tage chose a knock-off Lego, Claire chose a Shopkins, and Averi chose a drawing pad. It was a fun outing. The kids did express some sadness at not going trick or treating, but were not completely distraught over the dress-up part of things. Honestly, it was kind of nice to take a break just one year.