Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A day in the life.

*editor's note: this post is a compilation of 3 days' work at the internet cafe, as each picture takes about 30 minutes to load. Phew!

As you can see from the picture, Carson is certainly happy to be here! His smiles and laughs are intense. (He also now sits independently and eats rice cereal and bananas.) This picture was taken outside of Pnohm Penh's one museum, which I wouldn't really recommend unless you're interested in picking out the differences between hundreds of statues of Buddah. The Cambodians leave little bottles of water and plates of fruit out by the big statues, for Buddah and for their ancestors. I was so hungry I almost snuck one of the bananas, but Rick held me back.
Our daily schedule now consists of the following:
Rick goes out at 7:30 a.m. to stand at an intersection and take pictures for an hour of the cars, motos and bikes that go by. He's working for a professor who's studying the increase in females owning motos, and how that is decreasing the number of children in Cambodian families. He comes home, and we leave together at 9:00 a.m. I go teach two English classes at an elementary school, and Rick takes Carson to work with him at RACHA, a Cambodian NGO that works with maternal and infant health. The women there absolutely love Carson, and they help Rick take care of him for 2 hours while I'm gone. (They also think men are inept at taking care of babies, and they feel they need to tell Rick how to hold him, change his diaper, etc.) My third and fourth grade classes are quite good at English, and I really enjoy teaching them. When you walk into the classroom, they all run up to you, hands together at their chins, and yell extremely loudly, "GOOD MORNING TEACHA!! HOW AH YOU TODAY?"
I pick up Carson at 11:30, and we go home so Carson can have a good nap. All this transportation is accomplished by a "tuk tuk," a moto that pulls a sort of carriage thing. It's the only thing safe enough, in my opinion, for Carson. We have the same driver, a really nice Christian guy, take me and Carson every day so I don't get lost! (These tuk tuk drivers are not like taxi drivers who know every address. I have already goten duped bt one telling me he knew where the church was, and we almost didn't make it to any of Sacrament meeting.)
We patiently (and sometimes very impatiently) wait for Rick to come home after work and one more picture-taking round at 6:00. I occasionally venture out to the internet cafe, or visit my Korean mom friends in our apartment complex, but the afternoons are long. After a dinner that always includes rice, we are exhausted. I think this heat just sucks it out of you!

We have gone on a few excursions so far, and I will get more pictures to update next post. For now...

Rick and Carson with the mango-eating monkeys at a Wat Pnohm.

The fam on a boat that took us for a ride on the Mekong River, where we observed the lives of families who live right on fishing boats or in little shacks on the water.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


We have now been in Cambodia for 2 weeks! This is my second failed attempt to get pictures on a computer at the internet cafe by our apartment. Next time is sure to work.

Carson did wonderfully on the 25-hour journey to get here. A couple of normal crying episodes, but nothing lasting more than a couple of minutes. He is a good baby to put up with all of this! We are taking lots of precautions like using Deet mosquito spray when he goes out (which has to be washed off as soon as we come in), him sleeping under mosquito netting, lots of hand washing, and he and I staying cooped up most of the time! On a side note, despite my best efforts to prevent it, Carson has become a tummy sleeper by choice. I guess there's nothing you can do when he can roll! He also frequently scoots around in a circle during the night. I lay him down with his head facing one way, and the next morning it's facing the opposite direction. We also finally sleep-trained him here. (After several failed attempts and way too much spoiling by me earlier.) We don't call it "cry it out;" I prefer "work it out." We did it pretty gradually, never letting him cry more than a half hour or so, and comforting him pretty often. Last night he slept from 7:30 p.m. til 5:00 a.m., when he woke up smiling and desperately hungry! Good boy!

I am getting used to Cambodia with time. A week ago my top descriptions of Phnom Penh would have included smelly, dirty, dangerous, and nasty, among other things. Ok, so those words still apply. But I am coming to appreciate other aspects of the country and culture. While here, I read a book called Survival in the Killing Fields, by Ngor Heing and Roger Warner, which is by far the book that has had the greatest emotional impact on me that I have ever read. It's not the first account I've read from a survivor of the Khmer Rouge, but definitely the most tragic. As I interact with Cambodians here, I am struck with the realization that everyone has been affected by the Khmer Rouge takover only 33 years ago. Anyone here over the age of 40 survived and remembers the horrors and has lost most, if not all of their close family members to torture and death. I have a great respect for them even though they are the ones slaving away to sell me my lunch for only one dollar or driving me around the city for a meager salary. This country is still recovering from its literal destruction, and it is interesting to observe the recovery first-hand.

In other news, Rick received an acceptance to Wake Forest's medical school, and we are deliberating renouncing our choice to go to Georgetown in favor of the more affordable and nicer living circumstances that Winston-Salem, North Carolina has to offer. Such a tough decision!!!

So, we are surviving here in Cambodia! More to come soon!

Monday, May 5, 2008

2 Biggies for Ricky

Rick has graduated! He received his BS in Exercise Science last week. We had fun participating in the graduation ceremonies, and we were extra happy to have Rick's parents with us.

and... Rick joined the Army! Their HPSP scholarship will cover all of our medical school expenses, and Rick will serve the Army for 4 years after medical school and his residency. This was a decision that we spent many hours pondering and praying about. We feel really good about it, and I'm very proud to say that he will be serving our country for at least 4 years. He was commissioned into the Army on Saturday.

We've moved!

We are out of our Wymount apartment... our first home together, Carson's first home, and probably one of the most fun places a young married couple can live. We sold most furniture and large items on Craigslist, gave or threw away lots of other things, and boxed the rest up. Our entire lives now sit in Rick's sister's garage, all in boxes. We've been systematically going through everything again, getting rid of more things and readying everything to be packed into a U-Haul, which Rick's parents will drive from Utah to Tennessee when they return to their home later this month. (Our things will eventually end up in D.C. when we fly to Tennessee from Cambodia and complete the drive. Is that clear??) Here are the boys, hard at work to organize our things.

We will miss lots of people from our Wymount community, like this family.

So, for the past week we've been living out of suitcases at Rick's sister's home. We've been able to spend lots of time with family, which is becoming so valuable as we're about to leave the country! Recently, we hiked the Y with Suzette and our nieces and nephews.

We also recently had an Otto family photo shoot. Professional shots are on the way, but here are some of our own.
We love Brooklyn!

Cousin dogpile.


The Rollover

Carson has figured out how to roll from back to tummy!!! This new development is so cute to watch as he discovers he can reach a toy by rolling and then scooting around a tiny bit. Interestingly, he has always hated tummy time, but now that he gets himself to his tummy instead of us putting him there, he's happy. Is this indicative of some sort of independent personality streak or something? Here are a couple of videos to show the exciting rolling action.

Rolling over, however, has complicated the whole sleeping issue. He's a back sleeper, but he's been popping up to his tummy quite often as he's trying to sleep. Since he seems to sometimes forget how to roll from tummy to back, this means we are up half the night flipping him back over and calming him back down. Does this sleeping through the night thing ever really stick??

Happy Birthday to Reagan and the Baby Animals

To celebrate sister Reagan's birthday, we all went to the Baby Animal Birthday celebration over at Thanksgiving Point. (What an unselfish mother... she chooses her birthday activity based on her 2-year-old's interests!) Despite it being very chilly, we all had a good time.

Rick, Carson, and goat.

Carson behind bars.

Mackenzie giving Carson his first riding lesson.


Adriel's affection for Carson is still going strong, despite the fact that she lives with 2 babies who are quite similar to our baby boy.

New Hobby...

...cake decorating!

Thanks to a church activity, I had a little introductory lesson to decorating cakes. I tried one, decorated to look like the flag of the Dominican Republic, for the welcome home party for Rick's parents. I had so much fun! This may become a new hobby of mine, given some more lessons, and some supplies...

And my second cake ever, made to welcome Reagan and Tyler's family to Utah. (Can you pick out the SWKT, all you BYU-ers??)