When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Siem Reap, Cambodia - Part 2 Ta Prohm

The second stop on our temple tour was Ta Prohm.  This place was like something out of a movie.  Well, actually it was in a movie…Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Visiting here felt like stepping back in time.  It would be easy to imagine you were the first to discover this vine-covered temple.  You follow a wide, stone path dominated by enormous trees with sprawling roots toward the decrepit structure.  The way the jungle twists and curls around the stones,  you almost have the feeling it is trying to pull the building down into the center of the earth, angry for having been trespassed upon in the first place.  It is enchanting and foreboding all at once.

Note: Check out the Stegosaurus bas-relief (carving).  Interesting stuff!  Scroll down to picture with caption.
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Because it seems totally safe and responsible to parade your family of small children through a crumbling temple where giant stones litter the hallways...

Can you see the woman staring out from the roots?  Spooky!

Do I spy a Stegosaurus???


Dear Not-So-Baby-Boy,

Dear not-so-baby-boy,

Caleb, you turned two about a week ago.  I have put off writing this blog post in the hopes that I could somehow suspend time.  Maybe if I didn't write about it, it didn't actually happen…

But, alas, it has happened.  You have grown.  Your baby legs are longer and stronger, pulling you up stairs without a pause in between.  Your words are recognizable to strangers.  Your will has made itself known - and what a strong will it is!

Somehow in the monthly hair cuts, the weekly nail trimmings, the nightly baths, and the endless diaper changes, I missed the big picture.  I failed to see how your brow no longer banged against the table edges because you could see over the top.  I didn't notice you sticking your arms through your sleeves without my help.  I heard your sentence without registering the effort it took for you to string those three words together.

My sadness of losing my last baby to childhood is eclipsed by the joy of watching you grow.  You are a light.  Your bright blond hair is like a natural beacon, drawing people (especially Asian people) to you.  And once they see your sweet face, they are hooked.  You have an absolutely devilish grin and the biggest, roundest, deep blue eyes I've ever seen.  Your chubby cheeks beg to be squeezed and stroked.  In fact, it happens so very often, you don't even pause anymore when passers-by touch your face.

You adore your older siblings.  Unable to pronounce the letters "p" and "r," you call Parker "Cocoa."  Maddie is "Yah-yah," a nickname she gave herself.  For some reason, you refuse to say Jack's name, and only grin when we ask - just one example of your playful, willful personality.

You have an absolutely unnatural obsession with shoes.  You try on anyone and everyone's shoes.  In Asia, most people leave shoes outside the front door.  You wait until we have a houseful of guests, then sneak onto the front porch, and parade around in the treasures you find.

Every morning you wake and chant "Poo!  Poo!"  Thankfully, you don't mean you need a diaper change.  You are trying to tell me you want to go swimming.  At 6:30.  You are a fish, son.  You hop right in with no thought as to the consequences.  Thank heavens for the flotation vest Grammy got for you!

You imitate every single noise you hear, often with uncanny accuracy.  Be it a baby crying, a cat meowing, or a jackhammer breaking up concrete, you shout, "Mom! [noise]!"  You are thrilled when I guess correctly.  You remind me of a character in the movie Police Academy…

I love the way you cuddle and snuggle and rub your cheek against mine.  You love to push me into a lying position, peel my shirt back over my belly button and lay your head on my stomach.  I think you would crawl back inside if you could.  You love to hold hands when we walk.  You love to be carried.  You often surprise others with your affection, pointing to their faces and make kissing noises (indicating you want a kiss).

You have traveled more in your 24 months on this earth than I had in my first 37 years.  You've been to the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and recently Cambodia.  You are an amazing traveler.  Each trip gets better and better.  You wait patiently in the immigration lines, you stay buckled in your seat for take off and landing ("bump!"), you nap, and you've stopped kicking the seat in front of you.  I'm so proud of you!

I pray that your life would continue to bless others with joy and love.  I pray that you will continue to grow and thrive.  I thank God every day for the gift of you.

Happy birthday, little boy!


Your birthday pool party
Your birthday present


Siem Reap, Cambodia - Part 1 Angkor Wat

The kids were in good spirits while we traveled. 
We were greeted at the airport in Siem Reap by a very sweet tour guide who led us to a large, comfy van.  So far, so good.  After driving a short distance, we arrived at a gorgeous hotel.  We spilled out of the van, and the kids wrestled on the couches in the lobby while Aaron went to the front desk to check in. After only a moment, the staff brought rolled, ice cold wash cloths for our faces and hands and mango juice in long-stemmed glasses.  I was liking this place (even if I did question their judgment in serving juice to my two year old in a glass).  

After a few minutes of confusion at the desk, Aaron realized his secretary had initially booked us here, but then cancelled and put us in another hotel.  Whoops!  Thanks for the free juice…

We piled back into the van and arrived at another beautiful place.  More free juice and cold towels…and more confusion.  Almost immediately a very apologetic employee came over and began speaking to Aaron in worried, hushed tones.  I watched in amusement.  Yup.  Looks like we were moving again.  They had a pipe break in our room and offered to put us up in another nearby hotel.  We laughed at the absurdity of it all and piled back into the van.  We just made it out of the driveway when the driver received a call and turned back into the hotel.  A manager came rushing toward us.  

"I saw you were traveling with small children.  I'm a mother, too.  I have moved other guests out.  Your rooms will be ready shortly."  

Wow!  Then they upgraded us to adjoining rooms.  (I can't tell you how huge this is when you have 2 adults and 4 kids - all of whom require supervision.)  What a blessing!  We settled in, and the older kids watched cartoons while Caleb napped in the other.  We had lunch, put on bug spray and sunscreen, and headed out for our first adventure…Angkor Wat!

This place has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  I don't where I first heard of Angkor Wat…whether it was from my mom with her illustrated archaeology books, a PBS program, or something I learned about in school.  I just knew I wanted to venture into the jungle and see these magnificent ancient ruins for myself.

Angkor Wat is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world.  Historians believe it took 300,000 builders, 6,000 artisans, and 40,000 elephants 40 years to build and decorate this structure in the first half of the 12th century.  Dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city.  

The complex was made of millions of tons of sandstone (more stone than all the Egyptian pyramids combined) that had to be quarried from over 40 kilometers away.  Nearly every stone (including columns and lintels) are intricately carved.  Miles and miles of carvings!

It was raided in the 14th and 15th centuries by the Thai and abandoned for the current capital of Phnom Penh in 1434.  It became overgrown by the jungle, its history lost and mostly forgotten until the ruins were discovered by the French in 1861.  Many monuments were restored, and restoration is ongoing.  It is now utilized as a Buddhist center of worship.

We were greeted by giant, restored, 7-headed serpents (Nāga) on each side of the wide sandstone causeway that lead into the city.

Heading into the city!

The moat surrounding the complex used to be filled with crocodiles to keep enemies at bay.
Caleb loved our tour guide!

Taken inside one of two ancient libraries (empty now) that flank the broad walk up the main temples.

I was so thankful we could climb these safe, wooden steps, as opposed to the original, steep, stone steps below!

Indiana Jones has nothing on this guy!

I think this may be our Christmas card this year…

Monks sitting outside the temple

Goodbye, Angkor Wat!

Next stop: Ta Prohm!

Note:  All historical information in this post came from our tour guide, Wikipedia, infoplease.com, or hotel staff.