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 3 - Bayon Temple & Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei Temple

While in Siem Reap we visited Banteay Srei Temple which was built in 967.  It's name means citadel of women or citadel of beauty, likely because of all of the intricate carvings of minor female deities that grace its red sandstone walls.   The buildings were much smaller in scale than any of the other temples we saw, and therefore archaeologists were able to restore larger portions.  There were many sections including libraries and a sanctuary guarded by statues of humans with animal heads.  It was a fascinating place!

Jack in a doorway (to give you an indication of size)

Ancient sanskrit writing

Bayon Temple

Next we were off to my favorite temple ever...When I first heard about Angkor Wat, lo those many years ago, I had no idea there were other amazing temples a stone's throw (or rather a few miles through the jungle) away.  In fact, I'd never heard of Bayon Temple.  What a treausre!

Look closely...Do you see the faces?
When we first arrived, we came to some very tall libraries (which looked like temples to me) with some of the steepest stone steps I'd ever seen in my life.  Parker asked if he could climb them.  Of course!  I couldn't wait to get a picture of him at the top.

Then I decided I wanted a picture of both of us at the top.  So, heart racing, I began to scale the stairs myself.  Either the people who designed them had teeny tiny feet, or the stairs had undergone some serious erosion through the years, or both because my giant American feet could only just fit on each step if they were completely sideways.  I got to the top and had Aaron snap a picture from below.  

I walked over to the other set of steps to exit and realized to my horror that the our guide climbing up with Caleb in her arms!  What?!  NOOO!  Visions of his blond head bouncing down the hard stone flew through my mind.  Is it appropriate to scream at a temple site?  I tried waving my arms to discourage her, but they were already halfway up.

Me reaching for Caleb

I laid on my stomach and reached my arms down as far as I could, snatching him up as soon as I was able.  What was she thinking?!  And how on God's green earth were we getting down?  I certainly wasn't going to let her hold him. Ever again.

There we are at the top at the right...planning our descent.

I tried descending on my own.  Where the heck was Aaron??  (Apparently he was now behind the library taking the picture above.)  I was starting to hyperventilate and my vision blurred from my tears.  We were both going to die up here, or rather down below atop a heap of jumbled stones.  Suddenly a small local man who had been watching our ordeal from below bounded up the steps on his impossibly tiny feet with the ease of a mountain goat.  He held out his hands.  Was I seriously going to hand my beautiful blond haired baby boy off to a complete stranger?  Um.  Yup.  I watched the man turn outward and skip down the stairs with Caleb in tow.  Just then, Aaron arrived to snap this great shot.  Thanks, babe.

As quickly as possible, I made my own awkward descent, snatched Caleb into my arms for the second time that morning, thanking the kind stranger profusely.

One would think that at that point we would simply cut our losses and head home.  Not the Lampoons Rausches!  Heck no!  There were more life-threatening adventures to be had!  (Not really, everything else was pretty smooth sailing after that.)

What awaited us was nothing short of amazing.  It was like something out of a story book or dream.  After passing through a series of hallways with shrines and giant phalluses, we came to the most incredible place...

Yup.  It's a phallus alright.  Why don't you touch it to be sure?  

Hundreds of giant faces (216 to be exact) were carved onto multiple towering temples.  Each structure had four faces, each facing a different direction - north, south, east, west.

While at first I assumed they represented Buddha, given their slight smiles and serene expressions, our guide explained they also strongly represented the king of the time and were likely a combination of the king, Buddha, and the bodhisattva of compassion called Avalokitesvara or Lokesvara.  Wow!


They were everywhere!

Pucker up!

I was sad to go, but we'd had a great time.  We spent our last night downtown.  We rode a tuk tuk (a kind of carriage attached to the back of a motorcycle) into town and strolled around for a bit.

We decided to forgo the crocodile pizza and ate a place called Genevieve's instead.  All in all, an amazing trip!

One last note...Parker lost a tooth on the van ride to the temple.  Below is the letter he dictated to the tooth fairy.  She still gave him a buck.

Happy birthday little big girl

Dear Maddie,

Just recently you tried to convince me you were a "young adult."  Say what?!  Where had you even heard that term?  You just giggled and insisted, "I am, mom!"  I have to remind you constantly you that you are still a girl, and a fairly little one at that.  Still, I find you and your friends talking with valley girl accents, "practicing being teenagers."  [Cue my rapid white hair growth.]

I used to fear your teenage years.  If I thought you'd turn out like the catty and/or clueless teenagers on television, I would still be concerned.  When I think about my own teenage misadventures, I cringe.  Then I remember two very important things: 1. You are not me.  2. You are in God's hands.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."  So, sweet girl, I am trying my best to train you in the way you should go.  I am giving you the guidelines.  I know you will make mistakes and bad choices, but I am doing my darndest to let you know that you are and always will be loved by your parents and by God.  I am trusting that knowledge will sink way down into your very soul and provide you with the courage you need to live a good life.

You and Jack in Boracay
And little sister, you are well on your way.  You are a dear.  A sassy dear, but a dear all the same.  You are the sweetest big sister a boy could ask for.  Tonight I came home to find you closing the boys' door, whispering, "Goodnight Caleb, Ya-ya [Maddie] is going to sleep now.  Stay in bed."  When I asked her what she'd been doing, she replied, "Oh, we were playing cars, then I scratched his back, then I read him some books and sang him his goodnight song."

You continue to be a great little sister to Parker.  You are often completely selfless when it comes to him.  If you have candy, it's offered to him.  If you have money, and he wants it, you shrug and pass it over (until we stop him, of course).  You are not a pushover by any means.  You are just extremely generous.  If there is something you want, you will fight for it [literally], but generally, what's yours is his.

You absolutely crave affection.  We've figured out a way to make sure you get all the kisses and snuggles you need.  You tell us if your "love tank" is empty or low.  Now instead of pouting for no apparent reason, you are able to use your words to tell us what you need.  And once we hear the "love tank" status, let the hugging begin!  Sometimes you even use the whiteboard in your room to leave us love notes.  You are an excellent storyteller, illustrator, and communicator!

You are also quite the world traveller.  It is nothing to take you on a 4, 5, even 6 hour plane ride.  You know just how to stay in line at immigration.  You don't ever complain.  You climb aboard a tuk tuk with absolutely no hesitation.  You never cease to amaze me!

On the jetty to Boracay

On a tuk tuk in Cambodia

First hospital visit

Peanut challenge
This year brought many exciting changes.  Among them were the nut challenges you bravely completed at the hospital.  You had blood tests, and skin tests, and finally monitored nut consumption.  We learned you can eat many types of nuts safely, and we can even introduce peanuts into your diet.  I'm so proud of how brave and patient you have been through the entire process.  My favorite part was spending hours on end alone with you in the hospital where we read books, made bracelets, created a secret handshake, and watched movies.

This was a huge year for you.  You learned to ride a bike, you lost baby teeth, you mastered your school's ridiculously complicated uniform schedule.  But the most exciting development (in my opinion) was in the friendship department.  In years past, my mean mommy rule of only allowing as many birthday guests as you were years old was not a problem.  You were relatively shy and had a few close friends.  This year, however, you had so many sweet friendships, I nearly amended my rule.  Nearly, but not quite.  In the end, you chose seven of your closet friends from the neighborhood and from school.  And you had a ball!  My heart sang as I watched you parade around the house, directing the games, hostessing the stuffed animal tea party, opening your presents, all the while, surrounded by true friends.  My shy little girl is blossoming!  My prayer is that you will continue to develop real friendships, wherever we go.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.

I love you so much, and I'm so proud of the girl [not yet young adult] you are becoming.  I can't wait to watch you grow this year.  May God bless you, sweet girl!


Maddie as Mary Poppins