Sunday, December 29, 2013

Enjoying Non-Fiction

It’s been super, super quiet around here since we got home from vacation.

I actually don’t know what to blog about.

Oh! I’ll tell you what book I’ve been reading!

I’m not usually into non-fiction, but I have a friend here who’s going through a list of books that everyone needs to read. One that was on the list that she had completed is called Elizabeth The Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith.

I was at first daunted by the 672 page (including the blank last pages) book, but after I started reading it I was hooked.

I’m only 142 pages through, but it’s possibly the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. I’ve never known much about the Queen. She’s been something of an enigma to me. It’s great to hear through personal accounts of what she is like both professionally and personally.

I had no idea how much work she had to do. She works every day but Christmas and Easter. Every. Single. Day. If nothing else she reads the news papers and her confidential papers. Those two things never go undone. It’s so amazing.

Another thing that has struck me is how sad it must have been to grow up as one of her children. It was not uncommon for the Queen and her husband (whose title has changed over the years, he hasn’t always been Prince Philip) to be gone for months at a time. Also, protocol always had to be observed. When she arrived home after a very long visit, she would have to greet officials before her children. There were no smiling, running, hugging greetings that her sensitive Prince Charles would have loved. Though after the official greetings were done, there was private family time, it was damaging for Prince Charles to be told “No, not you dear.” Poor kid.

It makes me wonder if it will be different in more modern generations. If, for instance, William is King while he has young children. Will they stick to such antiquated policies? I hope not. He and his wife seem to be of a different breed, so far.

When I enjoy a book, I become quite a voracious reader. Usually it’s what I’ve started calling “fluffy crap” but I’ve really enjoyed this. And it’s non-fiction. That’s a big deal to me.

Maybe next I’ll read her biography on Princess Diana. I’ve always loved Princess Di.

Friday, December 27, 2013

R&R of Awesomeness in numbers

2 and then 3 Adults (we flew our helper to Hong Kong to help at Disney)

3 Children

2 weeks

2.5 days

4 Countries: Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, China

5 islands: Phuket, Singapore, Sentosa, Java, Hong Kong

7 airplanes: Manila – Bangkok – Phuket – Bangkok – Singapore – Surabaya – Hong Kong – Manila (plus 2: Manila – Hong Kong – Manila for our helper)

10 passports

35 Boarding Passes (25 for travel voucher)

3 hotels

2 home stays with friends

4 massages for Sara

7 massages (one foot) for John

2 cameras

1,522 photos

2 elephants ridden

1 Disneyland

3 scenic view points

Unknown: laughs, smiles, squeals of delight

Thursday, December 26, 2013

R&R of Awesomeness

We were on R&R for almost two and a half weeks this December. If you’re a friend or follower on facebook, then you’ve seen lots of pictures.

As I’ve mentioned before my husband is an amazing trip planner. Our R&R point from Manila is Australia, but for less money we went to Thailand, Singapore, Surabaya, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. We ended up saving the tax payers money – you’re welcome.

The turmoil in Bangkok changed our plans a bit. Originally we were going to spend five days in the city with our friend who’s posted there. With the riots, and what not, the malls and schools were closed as well as many other things. We didn’t feel like spending five days in our friend’s apartment while she worked, so we bought our own tickets to Phuket (pronounced poo-ket) that had us not leaving the airport in Bangkok at all. We liked Phuket a lot, and I would return again.

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The big Buddha of Phuket

Elephant trekking! Everyone loved it.

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Playing at Patong Beach. Everyone enjoyed it, even Simon, who hated beaches until recently.  

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We stayed at Centara Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phukets by the airport, for a couple of days. They have a water park!

For the full online photo album check it out on facebook (it’s not necessary to have an account) here  

We went from Thailand to Singapore, and I loved it. Singapore, was a clean, organized, and overall amazing city. It was crazy expensive, but if we ever get posted there (and I would love to be posted there), we’d get COLA (Cost Of Living Allowance), and there’s a Naval base to shop at with prices at or lower than those in the States. We stayed with a friend and had a good time hanging out with her.

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We went to the SEA Aquarium at Resorts World Singapore. The kids love looking at fish.

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We went to the Night Safari and saw almost every animal they had there. It was so cool.

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Drinking a Singapore Sling in the bar that it was invented in (The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel). Yummy.

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Yes, they’re serious. They really want to know. 

For the Singapore photo album go here.

After Singapore we spent five days hanging out with friends in Surabaya. Surabaya doesn’t offer much for sightseeing, and the weather wasn’t always cooperative. But the food was great, and the hosts were gracious and fun. They have a son that’s between Malachi and Simon in age, and they had such a good time. After the busy touristy stuff that we did in Thailand and Singapore, it was nice to have a reprieve.

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We visited old temple ruins. 

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We played in an old submarine.

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They played with a friend.  

For the full Surabaya album go here

From Indonesia we went to Hong Kong. This was our longest flight, at just over four hours (those posted in Asia know, that an R&R flight from Asia is usually loooong. Our 1-4 hour flights are nothing compared to the 15 hour flights to the States). When we got there we were shocked by how cold it was. It was 11 degrees Celsius when we arrived (that’s not yet, but almost 52 degrees fahrenheit)! After living in Costa Rica for two years and then here for a year and a half that was super cold to us! Our helper met us in Hong Kong, and she’d never left the Philippines. She must have just been freezing. Despite the cold we made it to Disneyland Hong Kong and to The Peak. I would love to visit Hong Kong again.

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We enjoyed public transportation!

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We jumped for joy at Disneyland Hong Kong.

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We went to an American style diner with good food!  

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We went to The Peak and saw Hong Kong from an amazing view point.

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We enjoyed a large Christmas display on our last morning (as well as our new fleeces). 

For the whole Hong Kong album go here

We returned ready to be home and ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why I love Christmas

Tim Minchin wrote a song about why he loves Christmas, and it hits home for me.

The meaning of Christmas has changed for me over the last few years. I used to be a Christian and had the traditional views of the holiday. I loved Christmas as a way to celebrate my religion and it’s savior. The Christmas Eve candlelight services at our church in Dallas were my favorite.

My first Christmas as a non-Christian (before I had fully transitioned to Atheism) was difficult. I was in a difficult time, I guess, but Christmas was particularly hard that year. I wondered what the point was.

Since then, I have come to love Christmas as much as before.

I have always loved tradition. I don’t know if it’s because I was in Fiddler On The Roof when I was in 8th grade, or if it’s because my family loves tradition. We have Christmas traditions in my family (hot chocolate and orange rolls!), and we’ve brought them to our family as much as possible (the kids didn’t drink nearly as much hot chocolate, yesterday, as I thought they would). Orange rolls aren’t available so we’ve made homemade sweets. Cinnamon rolls, or blueberry cream cheese puffs, or something. John had traditions growing up too that we’ve started doing. Our kids get a pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve to wear that night. 

And, come on. My whole life, the best part of Christmas has been the presents! With three boys I get to give a lot of presents! I love to give as much as I love to receive. Except to John, I always have a fear I’m getting the wrong thing. Despite being together over 16 years, I still suck at getting him the right things.

I digress.

Yesterday I enjoyed Christmas the most I have in years. The children loved their presents. John made a super delicious breakfast feast with the aforementioned puffs, homemade biscuits and gravy (no packets in this family), and scrambled eggs. We spent the day watching movies, playing with new toys (including my run in my new running clothes), swimming in our pool, and on a Christmas drive (which was supposed to be easy and stress free but was actually stressful. Manila never ceases to surprise). Lunch and dinner were leftovers, sandwiches, or snacks and the children (and possibly adults) indulged in a ton of sugar throughout the day.

The kids went to bed with a new toy and were perfectly happy and tired from their big day of playing. We hung out for a few hours and I went to bed happy. I was so happy yesterday.

I love Christmas and I’m so happy to pass on the traditions from our families to our kids.

Merry Christmas, from the Roy Family!

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It’s Quiet Here

I wrote this yesterday and the writing program crashed and I lost it. So this might be abbreviated.

As I previously mentioned we had guests in the house. When the helpers were here there were six adults and five kids in the house. It was loud. Especially when four of them are 3 and under.

I was sad to see them go yesterday. As I hugged my niece and nephew I was sad to realize that I won’t see them for seven-ish months and they’ll be so much bigger by then.

Now there are three kids and three adults in the house – and it feels so quiet. Even if my littles are screaming. It’s gone from four littles screaming to two – the difference is amazing.