Friday, February 27, 2015

back at the ranch

We arrived late last night after a long day of travel.  And woke to cold rain.  Ugh.

Our travel was totally worth it.  So is the tricky transition back to real life and gray skies.  Our time in Malaysia was sweet.  I've got a few more pictures from the end of our days there (including an early birthday celebration for Matt and Isaac and Luke).  But tonight I'm cold, and tired, and not thinking all that clearly, so it'll have to wait.

I opened my email this afternoon to find some fun pics from my cousin Kate - She took these at the Youth Park that's a short walk from their home.  The Youth Park pool (with fountains!) was just a small part of this really incredible park facility enjoyed by people of all ages.  A great place to play, and people watch :)

And splash in the pool after a hot hike on Penang Hill.

Tomorrow is Matt's birthday!  We are excited to have something to celebrate as we return home.  Then Monday it's real life again :)  Chinese school, home school, the works.

Monday, February 23, 2015

beach photos

There's just something about the beach.  I love it.  So good to be here and watch the kids love it too.

Sunrise this morning....  Only Matt and Luke were awake for it.  [7:15 ish? I think?]

After breakfast we headed straight for the sand.  This rocky point is an island at high tide.  Lots of shells and crabs and clams at low tide.  We spent lots of time making habitats in buckets and loading in the wildlife - it was fun (for us at least, not so sure about the animals!)  All our play motivated me to get on the internet and look up some info about these little creatures!  So interesting!

Smiling faces!  Isaac can't decide what he likes best - the sand or the pool.  It's all just so fun for him!

Luke getting ready to become one big sandy mess!

Late afternoon at the pool.  with a nice view :)

Vacationing with the grandparents is nice!

All five in the same place at the same time!  Swimming skills are improving by the hour - yay!  Julianna's hoping to be on the home school swim team this spring, so Granddaddy is her swimming coach for the week.

At dinner - down the street from our hotel, an outdoor food court type place.  Yum. [I bought the batik head scarves for the girls and think they are so cute.  Wish I had bought ten more - mom is thinking of going back to the store after we leave so she's planning to get a few more for me!]

Isaac in his Malaysia Tigers soccer (football) jersey.

Dad and his noodle eating buddy - he and John Paul are crazy about noodles!

That's all I got for today - lots of pictures.  The internet here is SO fast and I love that I can add pictures to a post in minutes, not hours!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

hiking Penang Hill

So whoever named it "Penang Hill" was slightly mistaken.  It's much more than a hill!  It's a mountain!  At least it certainly feels that way when you're trudging up the side, panting with exhaustion and soaked with sweat!

We have LOVED this hill!  The kids hiked twice.  Matt and I have been out multiple times.  My Uncle Charlie hikes this hill almost every day!  He knows every possible trail up the mountain and is a great guide.  

Kate never turns down a hike.  Even with the shortest and slowest of hikers!

On Friday morning four of us headed out for our most intense endeavor yet.  It took almost three hours and was totally worth it!  Extra fun that the hike ends back at the house where we plunge into the pool :) 

Sometimes we hike through jungle growth, other times the trail takes us right out in the hot sun.  The views from the top (and along the way) are stunning.

And in the jungle areas?  Well, you often spot a monkey.  Or twenty!

Grandmama and the littlest monkey.  ha ;)  

Now that is HOT hiking.  Trust me.

Matt thrives on this kind of stuff!  It's been fun to enjoy together as a family and with our extended family.    

When we aren't hiking we are at the pool.  it's easy to get used to a pool in the backyard, and the kids are in it all day long.   Today we moved to a hotel on the beach for two nights.  We will be back at Charles and Linda's before leaving on Thursday (sigh).  I have more pictures from their house (so nice! and they are great hosts!) and also hopefully some beach photos too.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

downtown (Georgetown)

Okay, so this isn't about our first day in Penang, but it's what we did today, and the only one I have pictures of on my computer, and so that's where we'll start!

This morning we headed to Georgetown.  It was a cooler morning, at least at the start, and a perfect day for wandering the old streets.  The street art is super cool.  These three little girls are one of my favorites.

And this scene crafted around an old motorbike.  [Note the flawlessly executed group photo... ha!]

This 'living statue' captured the attention of the little people.  No surprise that John Paul was bold enough to stride right up to the gentleman and have his picture taken.

And these swings, also really fun - they are secured into the wall!

Notice the kids t-shirts!  My cousin Julie's daughter Caroline made these for our five!  so fun!  The kids LOVE them!  This is the first time I've dressed the kids alike for a day like this...  and it definitely has it's perks!  So easy to count these 5 tie dye tshirts!

And it made for a cute photo too :)

Of course, we weren't the only colorful attraction!  Georgetown is a place that assaults all the senses!

[See those goats? Happy New Year and welcome to the year of the goat, huh?]

flowers for sale in Little India

Incense everywhere!

Penang is a mix of ethnic Chinese (Buddhists), Indians (Hindu) and Malay (Muslim).  These young Malay girls were pretty enthralled with Luke.  

And I thought these girls were striking too.

Here's Kate giving a demo called "How to win the Patience Award"

And Uncle Charlie listening to Isaac.  Who never stopped talking.

Stopped for lunch.  A precious row of tie-dye in a booth!

We had a few moments where the natives got restless, but for the most part, they enjoyed the cultural lesson .... or at least remained somewhat interested in their surroundings.

We finished up with a quick stop near Fort Cornwallis and Luke loves to look for boats (Penang is an island, the land in the distance is peninsular Malaysia).

We got home and the kids hit the pool.  We are big big big fans of Uncle Charlie and Aunt Linda's home.... the pool, the backyard, the nearby hiking trails.

More photos and stories to come, who knows when.  This is the first I've bothered to open up the computer since I got here.  But I will be back.

the way we travel

Well, it seems that after 9 years the most challenging flights are behind us (knock on wood!)!!!  Our kiddos travelled like champs!  As our average age grows the trips just get easier!  With any luck our next long-distance driving experience will be similar :)

Our last flight was slightly delayed... but at 7pm when you're waiting on your third flight of the day and hitting travel hour #14.... a slight delay seems more irritating :)  Ha!  It was our only minor hiccup, and the little two boys slept long and hard through touchdown in Penang.  Hallelujah and thank you Dramamine.

We landed and the fun began!  The kids spotted Mom and Dad and Uncle Charlie waiting outside of baggage claim and dashed off to meet them!  We finally corralled everyone into bed around midnight and the next day did not disappoint!  Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

our last day

Friday night we joined our good friends for dinner.  The kids were all lined up and we realized this is the time of year when they are perfect age stair-steps.... and out came all the phone cameras :)

Our combined troops, ages 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2

Their family is expecting a new baby girl in just a few weeks - and sweet little girl has a looooong line of people waiting to hold her!

And then this morning Matt and I played "divide and conquer" with the last minute errands.  He got to take the kids along on his!  So I snuck in a hair cut and stopped by a few stores.... picked up a few more pairs of goggles too.  Are we the only family who goes through a lot of goggles?

It's goggle feast or famine around here - sometimes more than I can keep track of, other times we're down to just a few pairs.  Oh well.  At least they are cheap and easy to replace.

The kids are brimming with excitement.  The packing of their own personal carry-on started about sixteen seconds after they woke up!  [I had banned any carry-on packing til today - some things are best left til the last minute.]  We're planning a long afternoon of outdoor play and eager to get on the plane early tomorrow morning!

Friday, February 13, 2015

ready for take off

It's been a long week.  I'm ready to get to Malaysia.

I cranked out some packing yesterday and will do more tonight.

We leave Sunday morning and our tickets are hardly the best-possible route.  It's a bit like playing hopscotch to get from here to there, but the tickets were free (well, mostly.... we purchased with points/miles) and it's hard to justify complaining about free tickets :)  So we'll load up the backpacks with some entertainment options and make it work.

And soon, very soon, we will be in warm sunshine, eating mangoes and splashing in the pool!  woohoo!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

and the goodbyes came

The last day arrived.  And the hard goodbyes with it.  It's especially hard to see my girls struggle - they are so sad to see Grandma and Grandpa go.  Great encouragement to me this morning in Lamentations.  "though He cause grief He will have compassion, according to the abundance of His steadfast love" (3:22)

What sweet memories we share, it was truly just a great great visit!  One highlight was certainly our time at this fancy fancy hotel!

All the (heated) pools got us thinking about our Malaysia trip!

Poolside dinner :)

Crazy faces.

More swimming - lots and lots of swimming!

The lazy river rowboat ride.  Pretty fun stuff, once I convinced my boating partner (John Paul) that he didn't need to paddle!

our love of construction equipment runs deep

Note any resemblance?!?!

And now Grandma and Grandpa are off to America, and we are dreaming of the next visit already :)  Grandma says maybe when it's warmer!