Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Bayon

First of all, thanks for all the support yesterday.  Sometimes it's just good to know you're not alone and yes, we all have bad days, weeks and months for that matter.  The "soft answers" have been paying off and it sure makes a difference.  I have a few stories to share about that, but first, let's go back to Cambodia for a little bit....I fell asleep before I could post this last night.  

When I pictured going to Angkor Wat, I was most excited about visiting this temple (Ta Prohm).  
I was drawn to those mighty roots that have taken over so much stone.

I loved Ta Prohm just as much as I thought I would, but I was surprised that my very favorite temple turned out to be the Bayon.

I loved it so much I went three times.

This temple was built around 1190 AD and has big, huge peaceful faces everywhere you look.
I think there are 51 columns, each with four faces carved in the sides.

It was pretty impressive.

According to one account, the king (King Jayavarman VII) was hoping to be reincarnated as Buddha, so he had his face carved to look very similar to the Buddha ones you see.

Each one is a little bit different.  I can't even imagine how long it must have taken to carve all those monstrous things.

I posted a few of the entrance of this temple on Lucy's birthday.  This is the one she got to ride the elephant to (back here), and that's all she cared about.

But the rest of us were pretty mesmerized by that place!

I loved the entrance...

...lined with demons on one side and warriors on the other.
Let's get a closer look at one of the "restored" demon faces:
There we go.

I loved the carvings too that lined so many of the walls, telling their own stories.

Can you see all those faces?

The kids pretty much just loved that they could climb everywhere.

The gates surrounding the whole temple complex have their own faces.

I loved that.

My second trip there was right after sunrise at Angkor Wat the last morning.  Most of my family had told me they were too tired to go again, so I snuck out and joined our friends.

It was just as gorgeous that time.

When I got home, all filled with wonder about this place, Claire's sad face greeted me telling me she thought I was going to wake her up.  Oh man, missing at "date" with that girl was hard on my heart.  So we made our own special date while the big kids tried to work on some homework before we left for the airport.

And we took Grace along too.

We forgot my ticket and had to go back to the hotel, much to our chagrin, but it left more time for Tuk Tuk talk with these two.

This time we hung otu with the monkeys a little.
This picture was taken before we realized they were a little mean and started hissing at Grace.  She got out of there speedy quick!

We had picked up these "elephant pants" for $2.50 the day before from one of the many women begging us to buy.
Let's get a better look at those cool and comfy things:
There we go.

Our friends brought fans which were life-savers in the heat.

Best Cambodian temple dates ever... a pretty great place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"soft" answers

I realized this morning, in the midst of snapping at Dave before breakfast, that I have been a horrible example of patience and "shining" lately.

Last night I sent Lucy to bed screaming her head off (she has been extra "stompy" and stubborn lately and I reached the end of my rope).  I didn't even turn back when she pleaded mid-bawl for her ritualistic kiss and hug.

I had no patience on Saturday as we pushed our way through the heavy crowds at Yu Yuan Gardens to the tune of complaints from my kids (and husband) with scowls on their faces.

It may look fun and picturesque from the pictures (because it IS a picturesque place), but it was an awful afternoon complete with teasing and crying and pinching and drama.  (All in all we are having a grand experience here, but I still need to keep it real!)

Maybe part of my frustration comes because I feel a lot like this lady looks lately:

...except with way more kids and groceries hanging on that heavy arm...oh, and that serene face should actually be snapping at those darling kids.  And there should be smoke coming out of her ears.

Ha! Ok, it's not that bad, but boy I have been on one lately!

I don't know if it's just all the pressure trying to be so strong amidst this adventure we are in the midst of.  I am so grateful for it, sometimes we can almost feel ourselves growing.  But I've never in my life had to be as deliberate of a mother as I need to be here.  Never have my prayers been so urgent, so needy, so pleading reaching up to Heaven on behalf of my children.

Maybe my medicine for my dumb Hoshimotos is off balance.

Or maybe it's just hormones getting in the way.

But for whatever reason, I think I've somehow forgotten my favorite scripture from my growing up years:

"A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous word stir up anger." --Proverbs 15:1

I think it was one my dad taught me when I had to have one memorized speedy quick and he knew it was short and to the point.  Maybe he had been thinking about it because us kids needed it's wisdom.  But for whatever reason, that scripture stuck with me.  It was my automatic answer any time anyone needed a scripture recited.

It came to me this morning, and I needed it.  I need to be softer.  I need to be that "durable object" my sister talks about when my kids get huffy.  I need to roll with the punches a little more easily and calm down my heart when I get frustrated.

So I'm off to figure that out.

Snapping back never helps anything.

After that rough afternoon last Saturday of arguing and fighting through packs of tourists trying to stay together, trying to cram Chinese history into my childrens' brains, I let go.

I stopped myself from all the pushing and prodding and just let them be.

They wanted to take pictures and just stay in one spot as the sun set and the crowds cleared out.

So we did.

And that's when things got better.

Max got all the motion shots he needed for his photography class:

...and still ones too.

I sat and thanked my lucky stars that my kids love photography.  Love to share it with them.

When I change my attitude theirs change too.  That's a lot of pressure as a mother, but I'm sure trying.  Every day I make mistakes.  But at the end of the day what really matters is that they know I love them.

And that obviously can't happen very well when I'm huffy.

It happens with soft answers and love.

I need to be more like Claire, who looked up at me the other day with a huge smile and said, "I think I have a hugging problem!" and gave me the fourth or fifth giant bear-hug of the day.

Man these kids are sure good to me.

You may notice that I turned the comment section back on again.  I've missed you guys and have had a surprisingly lot of requests.  I tried doing moderation of comments but my internet doesn't work half the time here and it gives me way more emails to deal with so I'm just putting them back on how they were.  

I know there are some people with grievances to share.  I know there are some people who disagree with things we are doing, and by opening up comments I am letting them say what they will.  Most of me is thick-skinned enough to handle this, and often people have really good points to share.  But I do reserve the right to delete any that are openly hostile or that attack my children.  

I have a request for a little experiment: let's make that favorite scripture work (a soft answer turneth away wrath) and see if we can kill the mean comments with kindness and "soft" answers.  If someone says something not so nice, let's just fill them with love and "soft answers."  Let's all remember that everyone has their own secret sorrows.  I came across THIS post the other day which reminded me once again that I need to look for "signs" in others, ways I can help them, rather than just wishing they could see MY "signs" and give me the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, October 20, 2014

it's great to be eight!

I'll be honest; we were all a little nervous when we realized Lucy's eighth birthday landed smack dab in the middle of the only week we had off of school while here in China.

The poor girl has traveled a lot on her birthday it seems.  (Sometimes to not-so-fun birthday places...last year we were HERE and a few years ago we were HERE.)  We knew we'd be walking around the ruins of Angkor Wat, which for most would be a spectacular thing to do on a birthday, but maybe not in an eight-year-old's eyes...lots of walking and heat involved.

But it turned out to be the best birthday yet.  Lucky girl.

Her brother and sisters prepared a scavenger hunt for her to find her gifts in the morning:

Then, as birthday luck would have it, there happened to be elephant rides on the way into the first temple we went to.
We fed this guy first:

She was a tad-bit worried about that pineapple...

Then these three delighted sisters took off.

 (Max and Elle had already had a turn in India back HERE.)
 They thought they had died and gone to Heaven.

After a lot of temples (more on that later), my friend found this great place for Lucy's birthday cake:

...right in the middle of Cambodia.

We swam to cool off a little bit:

We went out to a little birthday dinner where the other kids gave her some sweet cards and gifts:

And then went back to the hotel for the "party."

Those cupcakes went from this:
To this:

...pretty lickety-split.

I loved her journal entry from the day (in the form of a letter to her friend):
No mention of endless walking in hot temples.

Just a lot of excitement.

And a little "kriing" at the end :)

Oh man alive we sure love this girl of ours.

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