Sunday, November 17, 2013

Moms and babies

In the spirit of November and Thanksgiving, I am grateful for awesome friends. I have long-distance friends that I've had for a decade (or more!), some I met within the last few years with Aaron's job, and some I'm just now getting to know and think are pretty awesome. 
One of the perks of living in Utah, is that there are lots of young moms with young kids, and often with similar interests as me. 
I always have something to do, and can find someone to hang out with =)

The other day, two of my good friends, Alicia & Malia decided we should take all our kids on a hike up Spanish Fork Canyon, and take our swimsuits to let the kids jump in the hot pots!
I live in such a cool place.
K I'm not gonna pretend that this hike was a blast, because it was actually pretty tricky, seeing as we took 3 babies, plus 6 kids up! And it was cold. BUT the kids did awesome, and we all had a really good time. 
I think I speak for the 3 of us moms that we feel a sense of pride of having done that by ourselves. Our husbands were out of town or at work, so we just don't wait around for something to do!
Carter struggled but did really well for him... he's not a big "exerciser" and the hike was 2 miles up then down! Mason had a blast being carried around in the backpack, and actually kept leaning to the side so he could see where we were going. And he eventually fell asleep that way. =)

Awesome day, awesome adventure.


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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Back to busy real life

This time of year for us is CRAZY. We're so busy but having fun so it's okay. After our Cambodia trip, we were so happy to see our babies again!!
 My parents are the best, for watching Carter and Mason for us. They were in great hands!

 Carter still asks to go back to Mimi's house
 He misses having 5 extra kids to play with!

We finally got around to carving pumpkins the night before Halloween. Whatever works. Luckily, my sister Val provided the homegrown pumpkins for us =)
 Carter had a cute Halloween presentation at his preschool. He dressed up as Ironman this year. His best friend Capri is sporting the Brave wig =)


 Mason is such a happy baby! He's mobile, doing the army crawl like Carter always did.

 To go along with Carter's superhero theme, we dressed Mason as Superman =)
 Carter and Capri, at her house. They love each other 
 My favorite heroes!
 My brother Kent came down for the weekend and we went to my Grandpa Packard's wedding in Salt Lake. Aaron was sick, so Kent was my date for the day

 Random pictures of Mr. Mase enjoying his bath 

 Carter turned 4! He's been really excited about his birthday


 Happy baby Mason!


 We took the kids to the mall to play at the play area. Mason and Matix are a month apart (Matix is Capri's brother) and they were really silly together.
 A few days later, we had a superhero birthday party for Carter and all his superhero friends!



And that concludes our family updates =) Aaron's setting off for a knocking trip this week, so I'll be tackling house projects. It's been a while and I miss them.

 photo stephanie-sig_zpse9faeb59.jpg

Thursday, November 7, 2013

South Korea

We flew through Seoul to and from Cambodia. On the way back, we had an 8 HOUR layover in the airport, so we took a little (free!) tour around Incheon.
I would have really liked to see more of South Korea. I tend to feel a little more comfortable in 1st world countries =)

We visited these botanical gardens that had some touristy info displays, if I can even call it that? I actually don't know, buuuuut it was cool.

 I discovered here, in South Korea, why eggplant is called eggplant--- Look at em growing!

 Aaron, on this particular day, was sporting his Hitler mustache, and was high on 5-hour energy. ;)
 These Korean boys ran up to him, and thought his mustache was SO COOL. Speaking of cool, look how cool THEY are dressed. I remember we had a few Koreans in my high school. They were always so stylish. And so nice. I've decided I really like Asians.

Korean market. 

 So they had a little information center, telling about Korean culture and history. They had a wedding getup that we tried on.
 We've now been remarried in Korea =)
 I wish we had more time to try real Korean food. 
 I love Asian pagodas... I was kind of in heaven with architecture and Asian style with decorating. Chinoiserie is one of my favs

Like look at this brick wall! I took a picture just so I can recreate it in some way, on some future project =) And the flowers.. it was all amazing.
 photo stephanie-sig_zpse9faeb59.jpg

Saturday, November 2, 2013

cambodia trip 2013

**warning**
This is going to be long. So many pictures. I tried to narrow it down but there was just so much to see!

**background**
Aaron's company, Vivint does a service trip every year. The sales guys donate commission from their sales (plus extra for their wives!) and then Vivint matches that donation to send us off for volunteer work. This year they teamed up with Globe Aware and Cambodia was the destination =) 

Here we are on our plane, without a care in the world, because we are KID FREE. Had we not been able to watch movies nonstop, those flights would have been miserable. We drove our kids to Seattle (Yakima actually), then flew back to SLC, then flew to LA, then to Seoul, South Korea, then to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Long day.

We got to our hotel/hostel, and out our buddies' window was this scene:
A for-real crocodile farm.
Sharing a wall with crocodiles.. Of course.

For the whole trip, we were divided into groups that the guys sold with this past summer. So we hopped in a van with all of them, which took us about this far.. where the water covered the road, and we had to get out and tromp through it. (Cambodia floods a lot)

Then we hopped into boats that took us to the Floating Villages
I'm fascinated by this. 6 months of the year, it's dry season and they can walk on dry land. The other 6 months, it rains a ton and floods, so their houses are up on stilts, and they get around by boats!

All our Vivint group took water filters to the families in the Floating Villages. 
Tons of mothers with babies were there to get their water source for the next year or so.
Here, we also met our Globe Aware coordinators, Philip and Chom. The coolest kids ever. 
 We had our first Cambodian meal at a floating restaurant. SO TASTY. Very similar to Thai food, which is scrumptious. I didn't think it'd be possible to get sick of curry but alas, after rice & curry with every meal, it soon got old.

These pictures pretty much tell it. Gross. Yup we did it. $1 for fish to eat and tickle your feet.


Wat Thmei
The Killing Fields.
This place was a memorial for the genocide in the 70's- The Khmer Rouge
Sad, sad. 

Cambodia is cute. Many men make their living driving tourists around in tuk-tuks.
And with our big group, we were transported to our projects, all stuffed into a van.
PS we had the coolest group. I had only met a few of these guys who sold with Aaron last summer, but it was cool to get to know them better. We were pretty much together ALL day for a whole week but they are fun and hard workers =) It was a blast.

Aaron's facial hair underwent several changes during this trip...


Our first real project: We combined with a couple of other teams and had to shovel out dirt and get it ready to be paved at a drug rehab facility. It was SO. HOT. 
I was soooo glad Crystal came! We were the only girls in our group!

Nightlife: we spent just about every night shopping around the markets for super cheap souvenirs, and got hour massages for $5! The boys learned very quick that those little Cambodian women giving massages are grabby.. and they would happily accept money for being extra grabby if you know what I mean.. ! It was decided that me and Aaron would always remain in the same room ;)

These guys. So funny. They bought fried bugs off the street. And ate them.
I think they enjoyed them too

Dinner with our team.. the boys ordered crocodile pizza. Me and Aaron are too old and unadventurous so we didn't care to try it ;)
But they also had frog legs, kangaroo, I can't even remember what else... It was crazy.

My favorite project during the trip was actually taking supplies, food, and school things to a poor village. Tons of moms and kids just kept trickling in and they were so sweet. It was a struggle for me, really, to see families being raised in such poverty. We took so much food, it seemed, but we knew it was not going to last long. The people were so grateful and kind, but asked if we would please build a school so their children could learn English. I could not hold back the tears! Of anything, knowing English was what could solidify a better future for their kids. I hope that volunteer groups after us can coordinate that.
And check out that precious baby. I wanted to squeeze him! I sure missed my own babies that day too..
The project from hell....
Ughhh this one was hard. 
First off,  we were sent to an artisan shop that wanted us to make a giant puppet (???) for display to attract more tourists. And they wanted it in the shape of an animal we had never heard of.. We had no idea what to do, so they sent us to this school that is run by a kind man who is a landmine victim, and lost his leg. 
The "school" was half-house, half-school, and in reality is just a hut with a leaky thatched roof. They asked us to take off the roof, which needed to be replaced. No problem, we tackled that in the afternoon pouring rain.
It was infested with SPIDERS. I about died. Then more groups came to help, and they wanted us to take down the entire hut, plus a kids house right next to it, which was not only infested with spiders, but most likely fleas and diseases, as he was living literally on garbage. 
It was really sad. But also very gross. 
We knocked it all down, cleaned it all up, and subsequent Vivint groups headed back to build a new one!




Another morning, we were taken to a larger school for some sort of boring meeting. The kids were squirmy, as were we. When it finally ended, some music turned on, the kids took out all the chairs, and suddenly it turned into a dance party! 
Some of those kids could get down!!


Next project:
We headed to a rehab place for the handicapped (most landmine victims), and had to level out a whole walkway, prep it and then pave it with pavers! THAT was a project. Took us 2 whole days, and we couldn't even finish.
 Here's our assembly line of passing the tiles down. (No equipment made these projects very difficult).

Aaron hard at work!

Pounding in the pavers. We had lots of difficulties.. they really wanted perfection and well, we are not construction workers :/ 
But it ended up looking so nice when it was finished! And now the landmine victims have a paved sidewalk to roll on with their wheelchairs that we built them =)

Awesome picture of our group
Our last day was actually assembling the wheelchairs. We found it humorous that they are built from a plastic lawn chair and bike tires, but those things work so well! 

ANGKOR WAT
We got a day off to go see the ancient Buddhist temples!
It was so amazing.


The ruins had trees growing all through them- it was amazing!
We had a blast with the Holkers... us married folk have to stick together =)


The decoration and detail was unreal. It boggles my mind that they could build this with such limited resources, so long ago.




If you've ever seen old King and I with Yul Brenner, you might recognize these costumes =)
Traditional Cambodian clothing




Where's Waldo? Haha

Elephants! I wanted to ride em so bad... but they were all reserved =( boo




Monkeys! They were hilarious, and feisty.




Our final night, all of the Vivint group had a fancy dinner together. Aaron and Stevie enjoyed sporting their matching mustaches hehe
A last picture with our awesome Globe Aware guides. They were so fun. We just wanted to pack em up with us and bring them home. Their English was awesome.. they have good futures ahead of them
We ended up getting another coordinator the final day, Rata. She was really sweet. And with that, we took off to the airport for a long trip home!

Such an amazing trip. It was so neat to see a part of Asia and to be introduced to a new culture and language and people. Cambodians are amazing.
 photo stephanie-sig_zpse9faeb59.jpg


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