Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Chillin'



Originally uploaded by meredith w page

Amelia is so go-with-the-flow and she loves interacting with people - here she is just enjoying Bach Dang Street at lunchtime.

Monday, 27 September 2010

the good and the bad

Let's do the good first, yes?

There is a wonderfully beautiful website called The Sweeterie
run by two amazingly talented ladies - one writes the words and the other takes the pictures - anyhoo, they opened up their site to a contest of sorts, and you could submit pics - guess what?? they chose one of mine - swoon :)
check it out here - http://www.trufflegirls.com/

And now the bad (or more like inconvenient)

Our modem semi-exploded yesterday, so we are without internet at home for probably two weeks, so posting will be spotty......

be well and happy until then - xoxo

Saturday, 25 September 2010

sisters

Do you know how hard it is to photograph an overly-active toddler and a baby who wants to stand, together, in a moving glider? Thank goodness for digital photography. I didn't get the picture I was hoping for, but I think the candid ones I got are much better - check out these sisters.

Amelia thinks her big sister hung the moon and that she is hysterical!
Alli will do just about anything to get Amelia to laugh.

Are they related? I love that they have the same facial expression in this picture.

and the award goes to....

Today at 4:00 p.m. ish

Alli: Can I have a snack?
Erik: No, it is too close to dinner time.
Alli: (Again) Can I have a snack?
Me: Honey, what time did you feed Alli lunch?
dead silence
Erik: I thought you fed her lunch. You didn't?
Me: I thought you fed her lunch. Alli, did you eat lunch today?
Alli: Um, nope.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Mooncakes

Mooncakes are given this week to celebrate the harvest/moon/fall festival. Mooncakes are pastries that traditionally have a thick filling made from lotus seed paste and/or may contain a whole egg yolk that represents the moon. The top of the mooncakes are imprinted with Chinese characters that represent everything from longevity to harmony to the name of the bakery. They are a labor-intensive product, and can be quite expensive.

They are usually eaten in small wedges and served with Chinese tea. OR if are my oldest daughter, you eat a whole mooncake off the counter when no one is looking.


Enter the 21st century - you can now get mooncakes in a variety of flavors with different fillings while the pastry itself can be made of many different ingredients, including gelatin.

I am a sucker for beautiful packaging, and the little red boxes that hold each mooncake are darling, but when you see an entire store or booth set up with hundreds of these boxes, it is amazing.
The first two photos are mine, but I took the rest off of Google images.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Week I Ironed

We are lucky enough to have a wonderful couple work for/with us here in Saigon. Ty is our nanny/sitter/translator/helper/all around rock star. Ty's husband, Toan, is our driver. Last weekend, Toan's father died and they have spent this week out of town with their family. In the short time we have been here, they have become a wonderful addition to our family and greatly increase the ease with which we live our daily lives.


I knew when we joined the FS that there were posts where having household help is common, because it is affordable and in some cases, necessary. Erik arrived at post, which is our first, before I did and I distinctly remember telling him that I wasn't sure we would need a full-time nanny, we probably wouldn't need a cook and definitely wouldn't need a driver. Ha! I learned very quickly never to make decisions about our day-to-day needs until I was actually at post with a bit of time under my belt.


It is still feels very strange to write about having "staff". I know it makes our life seem very glamorous, and in some regards it is. Trust me when I say, I know how lucky we are to be able to afford such amazing help. But also remember, we live in a country where I am not comfortable driving and I don't fully speak the language, so imagine trying to run errands with those two hurdles!

All in all, it was a good week. I managed both non-napping children, I multi-tasked, I ironed, I conducted some serious poop clean-up, and I mostly kept my calm. I didn't truly "cook" any meals and I only washed my hair once. As the week comes to a close, I give myself a B+.


The thing is - while I did miss Ty's help - I actually just really missed Ty. She always checks to see if I have eaten lunch. If I have a late night with Alli, and an early morning with Amelia, she insists I take time to rest while she is here. She tells me which outfits look great and which don't. She helps me translate with the building staff when I need a change of sheets or new towels. She runs errands with me because she knows where to find the best stuff and she gets a much better deal than I do. She does the tasks I hate (washing baby bottles) and allows me time to do what I love (hitting the gym).

I think that while we are away from our families, we look to create a new sense of family here in Saigon. I feel lucky to have Ty, Toan, neighbors, teachers, colleagues and new friends make up our Saigon family and am hopeful that we will be this lucky at all of our posts.

And, as always, in the spirit of full disclosure, I only ironed Allison's school uniforms, while Ty irons every.single.thing we wear, so if you see my hubby around the Consulate this week looking shabby, that is totally my fault.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Harvest Moon Over Saigon

This photo does not do justice to our night sky - the harvest moon is breathtaking and bright enough for moonshadows...

New Co-Pilot


Image0172.jpg
Originally uploaded by meredith w page

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Moon Lady

I went in search of folklore surrounding this week's festival and was hopeful to find a wonderful Asian tale with timeless life lessons. Instead, I came upon the following story of how The Moon Lady ascended to the moon. Bear with me, I swear I am not making this up.

Once upon the time (in Vietnam), there was a man named Chu Coi who found a lucky tree that had special healing powers. Because the tree was sacred, people were forbidden to...wait for it.....urinate at the base of the tree. (Yes, you read that correctly). Unfortunately (or not), Chu Coi's wife, Chi Hang, forgot the rule and urinated on the tree. One day, while she was sitting on a branch of said sacred tree, the tree grew and grew until it reached the moon. From that day, Chi Hang has had to live on the moon as punishment for her crime.

Please know that I mean absolutely no disrespect to the wonderful people of Vietnam, but that is ridiculous. Where is the life lesson or the moral-of-the-story? Is poor Chi Hang so amazingly busy that she couldn't remember that one simple rule? Was Chu Coi too busy to put up a sign to remind people?

Rock on Moon Lady. I will personally be celebrating you this week because sometimes when you have to go, you have to go.

Tet Trung Thu

photo via Google images

Tet Trung Thu is being celebrated this week and depending on who you talk to, it is called the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Children's Festival, the Moon Festival or the Lantern Festival. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which if you don't have your lunar calendar handy, is September 22nd.

This festival centers around children, education, the moon and the harvest. The children are all given lanterns, and schools have special assemblies and celebrations. In addition, everyone gives and receives mooncakes. I will fill you in on some of these aspects in the next couple of posts.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

John P. Saylor


Today, the Cambria County (PA) Military Hall of Fame in enshrining five new members, including my maternal grandfather, John P. Saylor. He is the tall, handsome man in the center of the photo above. He was a Naval communications officer during World War II who provided the first flag to Marines who raised it on Iwo Jima and he then went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949-1973. We are incredibly proud of his hard work and legacy and I am thrilled with the honor bestowed upon him today.


My grandfather was one of the first conservationists and had a great respect for the environment. In this last photo, he stands with members of the Seneca Nation who made him an honorary member after his tireless efforts on their behalf to preserve their native lands.

I wish I could be with my family today, especially my mom, as they reflect and celebrate. I never knew my grandfather except through stories and photographs, although I am thankful there is an abundance of both. I am proud that Amelia bears Saylor as her middle name, in honor of my mom, her father and all of the amazing Saylor clan I am proud to call my own.


Photos from the John P. Saylor Collection housed in the Special Collections and Archives Department at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

let them eat cake


I had myself a good cry today, as did Amelia.
Sweet baby girl had her 6 month shots.
And she must have some sort of amazing memory recall, because the second we walked into the health unit, she had a complete.nervous.breakdown.
Tears, screaming, hysterics, profuse sweating.
By the end of the appointment, we were both a mess.
I am also completely physically exhausted from unpacking our boxes in record time, so that doesn't help matters.
If you think for one minute that I am not eating leftover birthday cake for dinner tonight, you are sorely mistaken my friend.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The wrong side of the bed.

Today, I woke up on the wrong side of our terribly uncomfortable bed.
Last night, I went to bed way too late and wasn't really ready for today. I was 10 minutes behind and totally unorganized from the beginning of the day. That being said, please read my post with a grain or two of salt.

We received the remainder of our HHE (household effects) shipment today and I was excited, apprehensive and intrigued by what that delivery would hold. Mainly because these items had been packed away in haste while we were still in the honeymoon daze of acceptance into the FS. We didn't have the time or foresight to organize our primary packout and I fear that until all of our items are finally under one roof - 5 years down the line? 15? 20? - we will never be able to put our hands on all our stuff.

So these questions/comments/ruminations are directed at myself, the various packers, movers and agents in between as I reflect on today.

I received the 3ft. long solid glass sheet that tops a beautiful wicker desk, but not the desk.
Also, the inner tray to our old microwave, but not the microwave.
Now, to be clear, we didn't want the desk OR the microwave, but why aren't these items kept together??

We received a four-legged tea caddy with only two wheels - even MY math isn't that bad.

To any FS hopefuls out there - my one HUGE piece of advice - pack ALL of your electronics together, categorized by voltage. While we have plenty of converters, I have no need for all these basically useless appliances with the exception of our beloved toaster oven and Cuisinart.

I do strongly believe in kharma, but I can't quite figure out why we asked that all of our wall art be delivered and only Erik's made it.

Why does anyone own 4 crock pots?

To the team that "unloaded" and "unpacked" us today, while you might not speak English and I don't speak Vietnamese, snickering and ridicule is a universal language. Try and show some love next time.

Not to future self - only pack tupperware containers you have the lid to. Use some common sense, Meredith.

To whomever filled "holes" in boxes with random Christmas items - at the time, had I seen you do that, I would have been annoyed. Today? It was a welcome surprise. Not so welcome - the random couch pillows you used to fill "holes" in the kitchen boxes. Not cool, dude, not cool.

When we got married almost 4 years ago, we didn't have the space to store and use all of the amazing gifts we were given. We unwrapped each present, oohed and ahhed, sent a thank you note and re-wrapped the item for "the future". Unpacking them today was like opening them again for the first time. It was really special. Ty helped me unpack and she kept telling me how beautiful all of our things were and she was right. We are so lucky.

Wouldn't you know it? Some of the first boxes unpacked were chock full of barware - go figure! This domestic goddess may not have the energy to cook dinner tonight, but you know she will do her best to get those cocktails mixed - maybe kharma is on my side after all...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Ingredients for a wonderful afternoon - 3-layer brownie cake, lollipops, burgers, dogs, wine, beer, loads of toddlers, a huge playground, wonderful new friends and a happy birthday girl!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Celebration / Reflection


This September 11th, we celebrated Allison's 3rd birthday with new friends and also reflected on sacrifices made, lives lost and abundant blessings. Today we remain, as always, proud Americans, now serving our country abroad and grateful for the lives we lead. We also maintain hope as we chose on this day of remembrance to celebrate life and happiness.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Vacation Joy

Great friends, great food, endless swimming, wonderful cocktails, dancing and naps.....



we are truly the fortunate ones.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Three is a Magic Number

video

A Lightbulb Moment

While on vacation this past weekend, I finally came up with a clear description of parenthood, should anyone ask:

When you go on vacation as a young(er), in my case single person, you end up having such an amazing time that your first thought in the morning is "I wonder if I slept through breakfast?".

When you go on vacation as an old(er), married mom with two children, you end up awake at daybreak and your first thought in the morning is "How long until breakfast is served?".

Can I get an Amen?

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Road to Mui Ne

Top to Bottom - Pit stop (Vietnam style); our travel mate; the terrific twosome; rubber plantations; cow crossing; fishing villages; rice paddies; dragon fruit trees; amazing vistas; finally - the beach!; your faithful photographer