Tuesday, June 21, 2011

3rd Anniversary

Last Wednesday, June 15th we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary.  We have started a tradition of doing 1 thing on the 1st, 2 on the 2nd, and so this year we decided to do 3 meals out for our 3rd anniversary.  In living here for almost a year we have come to find our favorite places, while still knowing of a few un-found gems.  We rarely eat breakfast out because the last thing we want to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning is fight the noise, dirt, traffic, and cultural stresses, instead we prefer to bunker down in our apartment and create a "western world."  But last Wednesday we headed out for a big American breakfast.  We went to Freebird and got breakfast burritos.  And they were amazing!  We enjoyed a long breakfast over several cups of coffee and then walked around the boutique filled street of  St. 240 and admired the fun clothes and book stores.

Lunch: We went to Fatboy Subs, a top 5 favorite for us here.  It tastes just like Subway, and sometimes that is exactly what we need.  We did decide to spread out the love and we went here last Sunday.  Again it was a treat and we look forward to our next visit to this magical place...

 Dinner: This was our big anniversary celebration.  We went last Saturday night, and were looking forward to it for weeks.  Ocean was our pick. We had been once before and thought it was the best food in Phnom Penh, so decided to return.  It is a Mediterranean restaurant, and we did the whole nine yards, drinks, appetizer, seafood meals, dessert, coffee, and after drinks.  We even took a tuk tuk (we like to call it our personal driver, but the truth is it's not that special and we could do it all the time but we choose to drive our moto instead.) But not this time... we took our personal driver!  We had a great evening out and enjoyed once again a time to celebrate another wonderful year of marriage.

Wine at Home: On Wednesday (our actual anniversary) we decided to have some wine and sit on our porch and relax.  Well nothing, and I mean nothing, made in Cambodia doesn't break.  Things you think that couldn't possibly be made at a poorer quality are, at least three times a week something breaks in our house or at our work places.  It is actually quite amazing.  Well, Chris was opening the bottle of wine for us and while pulling the cork out, the screw just ripped right off the wine key and got stuck in the cork.  It made us laugh and then we jimmy rigged the bottle open and enjoyed the evening. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You Watch Us, We Watch You

A lot of things are changing in the lives our our friends and family back in America.  This post is dedicated to those amazing changes that we still desire to be a part of...

First off babies...and a lot of them! No joke we got numerous "We're Prego" emails in a matter of weeks.  Our biggest congratulations go out to:
Kelly and Justin Birrell who had their 2nd, Carson, last April
Jennie and Chad Fletemeyer are having their 3rd in August
Allie and Cliff Pyles are having their first in November
Brooke and Clint Schuelke will have their first in December
Paige and Stuart Atkins will have their first in January
Kati and Ben Sherman will have their first also during the holiday season
Zach and Kylie Crandall are anticipating the arrival of their first child sometime in 2012

You all will be wonderful parents and we can't wait to meet you kids one day!  Then comes the weddings.  We have already missed a long list of celebrations this past year, but here are the some of the most recent ones we will celebrate from afar:
Kimmy and Jesse will get married this weekend (love that we can Skype in for it)
Jess and Bryce tie the knot this August
Kat and Tavo will get married in NM this September
Dave and Charlotte will also get married this September in beautiful Crested Butte, CO

Homes...and people are buying them!  Congrats to Shane and Lauren Harris who bought their first home in Parker this past Christmas, and happy house hunting to Sky and Kristin Williams.  We look forward to breaking in your guest rooms next summer when we live with you...still ok right? And then to Gus and Lacey Meuli who just moved to Seattle to top off her residency program and finish med school, and Britt and Bob Albrecht who are on their way back to DC.

I do this blog because we feel an undeniable support and care that comes from those back in the States, but daily we talk about all our family and friends and how excited we are for their future endeavors.  We hope you know that you are prayed for, thought about, and missed greatly.  We love being a part of your life even from a distance, so thank you for letting us in.  We love the emails, letters, wedding invitations, and Skype calls that keep us connected to your ever growing lives!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just make lemonade...

I think that Leanne and I would both confess that the the month of May was tougher than we would like to admit to ourselves and our supporters. As school finished up and responsibilities shifted, we had to say goodbye, if only temporary, to many people who were heading home for the summer.

Our excitement for those heading back to the U.S., Canada or wherever they call home was truly authentic. Before they departed we discussed what their first meal would be, where they were going camping, who they would see and what they would on the 4th of July.

Those discussions inevitably led to Leanne and I feeling low as we are still 11-months from returning home for a visit. We found ourselves talking about friends, family, camping and Chipotle. We discussed how excited we will be to go on long runs or bike rides in cooler, crisp air, or be able to share in the excitement of children and new homes with our friends, or feel the comfort that comes with sitting in our parent's living rooms. And not to mention central air conditioning.

We talked about these plans with limitless excitement - and then we never got on a plane to go home.

One major lesson we are learning here is the reality that, at most times, we as individuals are responsible for our own feelings of happiness and contentedness. There are countless cliches supporting this: When the world gives you lemons make..., Make sure to always see the glass as half..., Don't worry be...,

Often this is difficult for Leanne and I to do. We can be angry or bitter at the culture, the pace, the way business is done or how far away the day is when we walk into an airport terminal, see our family and can read the signs. To be literate again...

However, we have made a very strong effort to be prayerful and proactive about our feelings and our choice to see the blessings that surround us. To start our "summer" we spent time on our bikes, made tortellini, enchiladas and chocolate chip pancakes. We had meals with friends who are here and watched the Stanly Cup Finals at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. We talked to friends and family back home and enjoyed the rain that has been cooling Cambodia down and making it pleasant once again.

Today, I went on a 3 hour bike ride and rode the first decent incline I have found since being here. Passing ox carts, excited children and quite fishermen straitening their nets; I was once again content. I found myself at the top of a hill overlooking miles of green Cambodia. On the hill was a 40-foot reclining Buddha surrounded by the smell of palm incense and a rare Cambodian silence. It was a perfect reminder for me to stop, realize where I was, the opportunity I have and the blessings I have been given.

We are better, happier, content and excited about what is in store for us this summer. We hope you are as well.

We have been spending a lot of time on our bikes recently, here are some images from our Sunday ride and my Tuesday ride (While Leanne was working. Teaching = Awesome.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Life Lessons from the Fresh Prince...

"There's an air of love and of happiness and this is the
Fresh Prince's new definition of
summer madness.
Summer, summer, summer time - time to sit back and unwind

- Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff

On the last day of school for about a decade I have clicked on my Summer Mix Tape, CD or iTunes play list and played Summertime by the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff. If you are not familiar with them, I have given you a photo. Will Smith before the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Hitch and muscles... priceless. This morning, at 6:00 a.m., I played this song to officially usher in summer in Cambodia.
As for most things in life currently, things are going to look differently in the summertime. No climbing 14ers in Colorado (for those of you not familiar, think really big mountains in Colorado), no Pink Lemonade (unless sent in a care package, wink wink) and no - gasp - fly fishing. Argh.

However, Leanne and I are really excited about what we do get to do this summer. Leanne's project is in what I call the "real life" stage. We always talk about how difficult it is to take an idea or a proposal and turn it into a functioning project. She is in the stages of finding a facility that will serve as a school, church and community center in the village of Prek Pneu. Her awesome Canadian intern Sara is helping her with the gritty work of writing grants and talking to muddy Cambodian construction workers. It is really very exciting. By the end of the summer there may be a facility, a staff, students and programs. Pray about that! Really do...

I am not just lounging around. Well, starting next week no more lounging. This week I have made one meeting or appointment per day, just to make sure that I am held accountable to getting out of bed, turning off the aircon and putting on real-person clothes. Other than that one obligation, I spend time on a new project that I have started called Cambodia Bicycle Project and a race that will be held early next year called Pedal the Penh. I hope to raise enough money to distribute 200 bicycles to kids in Svay Rieng Province - Cambodia's poorest. Along with that side project, I will be helping the summer school teachers at Logos as a quasi-administrator / survival coach. It should be a good time. Stay in touch for more on Cambodia Bike Project and Pedal the Penh, it will be advertised soon! Pray about that too! Really do...

We also have a lot of celebrations this summer. Our 3-year wedding anniversary this month, our 1-year in Cambodia milestone, my 27th birthday, and Leanne's 26th birthday. We will be heading to China on July 12th and the day after our return, I start school again so I am sure this summer will fly by.

Leanne and I also want to enjoy summer traditions such as:
- Eat Bratwursts (done and done!)
- Make a 4th of July cake (Leanne's goal)
- Eat Leanne's 4th of July cake (my goal)
- Ride our bikes a lot!
- Nap 2-3 times a week (my goal, Leanne is a working adult)
- Be outside which is oddly enough very difficult to do here with the sun.

Happy summer to you all. If you have not listened to Summertime, I suggest you download it, it will take you straight back to the simpler times of 1991. Keep in touch and send us pictures of you doing great summer activities. Please do...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Time

School finished at Logos last Friday, and summer has arrived in Cambodia.  Well, it is forever summer here, I haven't worn jeans, closed toe shoes, or long-sleeves all year, but we will still celebrate summer!  We went to Logos' graduation a few weeks back (see above picture) and enjoyed seeing these 15 students get ready for their next stage in life.  Then yesterday we went to a good-bye party for a family that is moving back to Canada.  We have loved getting to know this family and Chris will miss Dean at school next year.  Though, the BBQ was very fun, and a great way to kick-off summer (I always love a good BBQ and pool party), it was the first time we said bye to a family here in Cambodia.  The international community is in and out, and this was our first time to build a relationship with friends, and then see them leave.  I know we will have a few more of these in the years to come.

Unlike Chris, tomorrow is another Monday that won't be different than the other Mondays I have had all year.  Chris will enjoy some time off before in a week or so he will take over many responsibilities that have been placed on him as other teachers and staff head to the States for a few months.  More to come on that too. We look forward to this change in schedule and pace, and look forward to the time we will have with the families here in Phnom Penh.

So happy summer to everyone, and to all the teachers out there enjoy your much deserved break!