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Baby it’s cold outside…

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It’s fascinating to be in a place where the butter on the kitchen counter doesn’t melt and the salt is not all stuck together. The cereal stays crispy once the box is opened, items in the drying rack actually dry, and two minutes after rubbing lotion into my hands, it’s disappeared and I need another round. As we walk outside we follow a visible cloud of exhaled air, take cautious goofy steps to avoid falling on ice and find ourselves discussing when frost bite will set in.

When we arrived in Salt Lake City and exited the terminal to head to the car rental area, Aidan and Emma spotted snow and ran for it.

Emma gathered too cold snow into a snow ball, and threw it at her brother just to feel it disintegrate and settle all over her. She quickly told us that snow is colder than she remembers!

We spent a couple days in the Salt Lake area visiting our daughters, Ashley and Aundrea, and were also able to see some of my sisters kids. Being with family is such a beautiful thing.

It’s so interesting being back in the US after all this time. Everything is so spread out and so commercialized. Advertisements are everywhere you look, and constantly replay on the TV. There’s so much stuff. Everywhere! Huge stores of food. Piles and racks of clothing, and everything else that one does not need. It’s all there – everywhere, just dollars away. I listened to the kids talking in the hotel room…
Emma – ‘Is the tap water drinkable?’
Jude – ‘Yes, it’s all fresh’
Emma – ‘Really? We can just drink it right from the there? It’s available to everyone?’
Mycah – ‘Yep, it’s safe for everyone. What an amazing thought!’
Emma – ‘That’s amazing. Even poor people have water to drink. No one has to buy it. It just comes out fresh right there from the tap.’
Mycah – ‘Isn’t it amazing. So much fresh water.’
Emma – ‘I’m going to drink from it all day. If anyone needs me I’ll be by the tap. Drinking free, fresh water.’

I love that our children don’t take priceless gifts, like fresh drinking water, for granted. In so many places we’ve been and lived and explored, people are sick, they are dying, because they are so thirsty and dehydrated and desperately drink from polluted waters.
A glass of water. What a gift.

The creatures have been so excited to be back with Kjira. We are loving spending time with her and my sweet Momma. Jet lag is kicking our butts a bit, but we are adjusting as we visit with friends and family, drink Reeds Dairy Chocolate Milk, and venture out into daily highs of 7 degrees and other crazy numbers that should not be found in nature.

Beautiful new adventures are being embarked upon, memories are being made and we continue to draw closer still as a family. The creatures got really close yesterday as they tried to all fit into a photo booth!

Life it good. It’s freaking cold, but its good.

Heading to the US

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Christmas was wonderful! We felt so blessed to have Danny with us and enjoyed a relaxing day at home as a family. Since Christmas trees are pretty much non existent in Bali, we used a potted bamboo plant as our tree.

The creatures lined up just like they did when they were little, and were such a joy – as always full of love and sweetness with each other. We shared so many laughs and made many more priceless memories.

Emma was so surprised when Mycah gave her this crazy looking jacket for Christmas. Emma likes wild looking stuff and saw it in the store a while back and loved it. Mycah recently purchased it on a good sale and Emma is so excited! She plans on wearing it everywhere she goes in the US! It’s grand…just like her personality.

Jude and Mycah went to the Bali airport the day after Christmas to leave on their trip, just to find out that China Southern Airlines has cancelled all travel to and from Bali till January 8th. The girls quickly rerouted with Korean air and left later that night. Max also left to return to New Zealand. It was fun to have him hang with us. Just for the record, we’ve had several of our blog reading friends ask if Max is in a relationship with any of the girls, and the answer is no. He’s an awesome friend and the creatures love him like a brother. Thanks for trying to play match maker though lol.

When the girls reached Seoul, Korea, I told them they were now Seoul Mates. The two of them are having so much fun traveling together. Their sisters, Ashley and Aundrea, will pick them up in Salt Lake City, and wait for the twins and I to arrive tomorrow. We’ll be kidnapping Aundrea and taking her back to Idaho with us since she’s on school break.
Danny left to return to Hong Kong yesterday morning. I missed him the second he was gone. It has been such a treat to spend 10 days with him! We’ll see him again in February.

The twins and I have been playing tourist as we wait for our flight out tonight. We left home yesterday and stayed the night in a hotel, as our villa is being prepped today for Airbnb guests to arrive and stay while we are gone.

It’s been fun exploring streets and alleyways here in Seminyak. It’s definitely a touristy part of Bali, with tons of little stores and scooters everywhere we look.

Hindu offerings have been reverently laid at every intersection and doorway as we walk through town,

and some have been artistically arranged in interesting places…

We passed this little stand, and I thought it was funny.

Aidan and Emma are so much fun to be with. It’s strange being Momma to 11 creatures and having only 2 left to hang with right now. I feel kinda naked.

But, they certainly have enough spunk, creativity and humor to make up for several people though, so in some ways it still feels like there are more of them around. Our little cabooses! I love them!!!

We will arrive in SLC tomorrow and begin our month long adventure in the US. We are so excited to see friends and family and are a little nervous for the cold. It’ll be a blast and a half.

Who’s the Alpha?

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When we returned to Bali from Phuket, the dogs greeted us with major tail wags and kisses. Stanley ‘talked’ for some time, telling us all about their adventures while we were gone. Angel was so happy as well, but let Stanley do all the talking. I realize now, that part of the reason he was quiet is because he was silently stewing about the fact that Danny was home…he recognized that he had competition for the Alpha Dog spot, and wasn’t very happy about it.Usually when we get home, I unpack completely, put everything away and get a load of laundry going before I sit down to relax. Danny, on the other hand, opens is suitcase in the middle of the floor and as each day goes by it looks more and more like a textile factory exploded in our room. Angel saw Danny’s open suitcase as an opportunity and lifted his leg to the open suitcase, then scrambled outside to continue marking his territory. The new rule: no dogs in the house. Angel couldn’t care less but Stanley is fighting it and thinks it’s unfair.

It rained so much the first few days that we were home. The parking area of our yard right outside the main gates, were completely flooded.

Outside our villa the street flooded and the canal overflowed. The local kids broke out a surfboard and played in it all day.

When Danny and I had to leave to run some errands, we had a blast riding through the flooded streets.

We drove an hour up to Ubud to visit with our friends, the Amat family, and loved snuggling with their sweet baby.

What a sweet little guy.

This short 10 day span we have here in Bali, before heading to the US, is action packed with errands and preparation for Christmas, continued preparation the get our villa Airbnb ready and then traveling. Since we will be gone for a month we have listed our home and have just booked our first guests. Danny and I have been so excited.

Right after I’d cleaned the living room really well, Danny had spoken sternly to Angel about his territory marking issues, and about five minutes later we walked into the living room to find that he had opened the door, brought two birds in and spread feathers EVERYWHERE! The poor birds had naked patches and sat starring and wondering what on earth had just happened. I’m not entirely sure who Alpha dog is at this point, but I think Danny must be in the lead because he’s in the house and Angel isn’t!

Being back in Bali has been wonderful. I never tire of the 100’s of shades of green, the crazy scooter rides and the smell of incense and spices in the air.

Mt Aging continues to blow steam and ash, which has made for some very quiet streets and beaches. Though it’s more peaceful, I realize it’s financially devastating for the community.
We recently received word that our tickets to the US with China Southern Airlines, were cancelled, so I’ve been on the phone each day trying to reschedule.
Life is good. I am so grateful for this Blessed time of year as I contemplate our Saviors birth.

Making memories

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We had a nasty experience a few days ago…I was driving our rental car and was preparing to make a U turn (in a legal spot), and just as I began to make the turn, a 20 year old woman on a scooter slammed into the car just by the front right tire. She flew off the scooter and slid along the road into the on coming lane, and her scooter continued sliding several feet farther. I ran over to her as she lay on her side, and I felt for obvious broken bones, and found her to be ok. I could see several people speaking in Thai on their cell phones around me, so I knew EMS had been called. Her mom showed up in tears and I put my arms around her and tried to comfort her as we waited and I kept her daughter still until the ambulance arrived. She was quickly whisked away to the ER. Several hours later, we left the police station with the plan that they’d call me once they’d reached the car rental insurance agency.
I felt so terrible. I also felt incredibly grateful, because the mom told me that this was the first time her daughter had ridden the scooter without her two year old child, and of course they never wear helmets.
The following morning the creatures were so sweet and made me breakfast in bed.

That afternoon Danny arrived and it was wonderful to see him. We had beautiful places to show him and adventures to embark on. I had already told him about the accident and he swooped in and took charge of the situation. We finally met with the insurance and police again, (the rental car insurance will pay for all medical bills and bike/car repair) and we voluntarily paid her 3 months wages so she could heal up then get back to work. We were told that if a foreigner gets into an accident here, no matter what, the Thai is never at fault. We found that to be true and figured rather than making a fuss, we’d just show compassion and sympathy and move on. I’m grateful we’ve been kept safe on our scooters back in Bali.

We took a long boat out to a little island, just 10 minutes away. The long boats have especially long prop shafts so they can be maneuvered in shallow waters. Our Captain was a cool little man and performed well.

I love how the Thai people are so quick to smile. The Island was beautiful, with white beaches, large granite boulders and thick, green foliage.

The color of the water took me away to places we’d been with Tanda Malaika.

We found a good place to set up camp, and waded out for some snorkeling.

While exploring, we came across this beautiful cuttlefish, who didn’t seem too bothered that we wanted to admire it.

We also saw this beautiful spiny sea urchin that displayed bright fluorescent colors.

After surfacing for a while, we relaxed, picnicked and played cards In our tranquil setting.

The following few days were spent exploring with Danny.

We’ve eaten lots of good food, explored just about every beach in the book,

ridden jet skis,

sipped cold coconut water,

and had so many laughs.

I’m so grateful for this time we have had here, and especially for the time we’ve had with Danny. These past 5 days have been the longest we’ve been together in the last 3 months!

Tomorrow we will head back to Bali, and can’t wait to see the dogs and our sweet friends. We have less than 2 weeks there, then will be off to the US for a month.

Northern Phuket

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Northern Phuket is far less touristy than Southern Phuket – which is what we prefer. It means less people on the beaches, less vendors trying to sell us things, more real Thai experiences and more peace and quiet.

The first beach we stopped at was Surin Beach, and it was gorgeous. Lots of wide open beach and wide open ocean.

A friend of ours suggested that we visit a beach that not many know about, called Banana Beach. We found it and trekked down to it through the trees and down a muddy slope.

Once we reached the sand, we were instantly taken in by the exquisite beauty that surrounded us. Thailand just like the magazine pictures…

We picked a good spot to stay a while and lay our towels down to go take a dip.

Just before strolling into the surf, a couple approached us with a bucket of fresh honey. They were selling it by the bottle for about $10. We of course had to buy some since we are honey lovers. For our picnic we had honey and peanut butter sandwiches!

The creatures immediately headed for the water and I followed shortly. It felt so good – the perfect temperature and so incredibly beautiful.

We stayed and played in the surf till late afternoon, then finally pulled ourselves away to continue exploring. We still had a waterfall to reach. We began driving down the road and Mycah exclaimed, ‘what was that??? It was a rhino cross baby elephant!’ After making fun of her and listening to her insist that she saw what she saw, we had no choice but to turn the car around to see what kind of animal she’d seen…it was a water buffalo!

The road to the waterfall was beautiful, with large forested areas and thick, lush grass. Aidan decided he had to break out the skateboard and ride the road for a while, so we obliged.

He had a blast and only ended up with a small amount of road rash.

The hike to the waterfall wasn’t much of a hike. We strolled down a road for a while,

Jude, Mycah and I were barefoot – which is our favorite way to hike, and after a short distance we followed a path through the trees, vines and bamboo, which ran parallel to a beautiful stream.

What a beautiful place! The air was thick with humidity but so clean and fresh, allowing us to feel each breath we took so completely. Fresh air in nature is such a precious gift.

We finally reached Bang Pae Waterfall, and sat for a while enjoying the beauty.

While the creatures sat I jump in and cooled off in the refreshing water. They had spotted an area farther downstream that was more inviting to swim in, so we headed that direction for a while.

As usual, all sorts of goofiness and shenanigans took place.

Max and Aidan were goofy too.

I love every second I spend with these crazies.

We eventually made our way back to the rental car, enjoying part of our adventure. The walk back…

the drive home, and the conversations that constantly flow. I find myself in fits of laughter on a regular basis as I listen to the chatter. Jude loves puns and she loves playing with words. We passed by this sign,

and she said, “Guys, I see all these signs and I just feel like I’m saying dam wrong!”
She cracks me up!
Life is good. Our children are a priceless gift, and I am a happy Momma.

Old Town

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The creatures and I have been exploring North Phuket, and love it. It is far less populated and less touristy, which is just the way we like it. Before heading north we ventured into Old Town, and looked around.

The streets were pretty clean and concrete structures stood proudly, wearing the wisdom of their years…

So many little details of beauty that one could easily pass by…

We came across a farmers market where so many items that are foreign to me, were sold.

Some of it I recognized, like this dried squid,

and of course all sorts of wonderful produce

and spices and dried fish.

I would love to take some Thai cooking classes and learn how to use all these fresh herbs…

and the dried ones too.

We stopped and tasted fried sweet potato balls and they were delicious.

Scattered about are several places of worship – brightly colored and open for all who are appropriately dressed and wish to enter.

When our stomachs began to growl, we stopped for some lunch and were served the most delicious, fresh Pad Thai we’ve ever tasted.

We spent a considerable amount of time on this beautiful beach, where we watched sailboats at anchor and dinghies coming and going. The water was warm and inviting.

We eventually pried ourselves away, but not before joining everyone else to watch the sun set on yet another beautiful day in Thailand.

Couples stood together in the dimming light, which cast a golden glow over all it touched. I would have loved to have reached over for Danny’s hand if he had been there.

The clouds burned orange with the last rays, and we turned to return home once again.

Exploring South Phuket

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The creatures worked on school work for a while, and when Mycah was done, her and I ran to a laundromat and did laundry while the twins finished up. After returning and hanging the clothes up to dry, we set out to see what we could see. Our plan was to continue to work our way up the west coast of Southern Phuket and finally end up at the airport to pick Jude and Max up at 9:15pm.
We drove in the direction of Patong Beach area, and en route, made a few observations and comparisons. Traffic is FAR calmer in Phuket. After driving in Bali, I’m not sure we’ll ever find anything that compares to the madness we found there. Traffic is far more organized here and there is so much less of it. In Bali, robots go from green to yellow to red, then back to yellow before turning green again. Traffic zips out as soon as yellow hits and is in full action once green comes around. Here in Phuket, robots go from green to yellow to red, and while they are red, there’s a huge electric countdown that show you exactly how many seconds until the light turns green again. People actually wait for the seconds to reach 1 before shooting out through an almost green light. There’s also far less garbage lying everywhere here, and far more vacant lots with jungle-like foliage, rather than one building being connected to the next like it is in Bali.
Patong is a big tourist trap, with cruise ships coming in and lots of food and entertainment everywhere.

It’s a little crowded, but by no means, unbearable.The small streets are filled with a spaghetti bowl of electricity lines running by the dozens in every direction above bars and stores filled with people smiling, talking story and having a good time.

People slowly stroll the streets with bags in hand – filled with treasures to take home,

and the air is filled with the smell of sunscreen lotion and grilled meat.

Some of it looked really tasty!

The really popular carts sell fresh fruit and coconut water, which is served sliced in a tall transparent container that everyone around can see and crave the same.

We stopped for some delicious Thai food and paid about $2.50 for the most amazing meals. From Patong we continued north, stopping in Kamala to check out the beach.

Lush green hills serve as a gorgeous back drop to the beautiful, peaceful beaches.

There’s so much area to stroll and breath! What a peaceful place.

We continued north, stopping at each beach we came across – which are many.

My favorite view was of a small beach down below, which we will most definitely need to find a way to get down to. If I’m reading the map correctly, I think it’s called Laem Singh Beach. Absolute Gorgeousness!!!

We decided to stop and relax a while at Surin Beach, where we lay in the shade and read, ate ice cream and chatted with locals. Thanks to Aidan for this great shot…

As evening came, we grabbed our goods and continued up the coast in the direction of the airport.

The flavor of the day, was this one: Miengkam Krobros! It was quite delicious!

We reached the airport a couple hours early because we were just too excited to stay away, and the creatures entertained themselves by playing with foamy play dough. It’s impossible to feel bored with the yahoos around!!!

When the airplane arrived it was a race to see who got to Jude first! These guys have missed each other so much! It’s great to see our friend, Max, too!

I really love how our kids love each other!
Danny told me yesterday that there’s a chance he will be able to join us here on the 11th. We are excited for the possibility!