About Me

My photo
2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bali, Indonesia

So Jeremy and I took a trip with our good friends Tyson and Angela to:
Bali, Indonesia

This is us arriving at the airport.

Here is a recap of our trip in the random order that Blogger has decided to upload them in. Bali was amazing and awesome all at the same time. I recommend it!

We went to a monkey preserve. They sell bananas for you to feed the monkeys but you are supposed to hide them and pull them out one by one so that you don't get bombarded with hungry, greedy monkeys. We missed that memo and the people who work there had to come and tell Jeremy and Tyson not to touch the monkeys even though they were crawling all over them. 

I am not an animal fan, generally, so I stayed away from the monkeys. However, that monkey not only photo bombed us but jumped on me uninvited!

 Scooters are the Balinese people's main source of transportation. You see them everywhere. Babies, children, teenagers and adults are all strapped to them and they just weave through traffic like it is no big thang. We rode in an SUV with a hired driver to remain safe. We would have killed ourselves on the scooters. They know what they are doing, they surround cars and weave in and out of the road, and traffic and steering wheels are on the wrong side. If we had tried to drive ourselves...whew. We would definitely be dumb Americans. We sat at a stop light at a large intersection discussing which road our driver was going to turn; we were all wrong.
 This is one of those countries where they carry large loads on their heads. It was unbelievable. There were plenty of people with bigger loads than this.
 Fruit Stand with real fruit grown there. This sounds normal to anyone who doesn't live on Guam. We  seem to only grow coconuts on Guam so it is rare to see a fruit stand.

 This is Jeremy's buddy. (It is a monkey at the Elephant preserve). He reached his hand out and held Jer's hand for a second but then he turned his back to him as if he wanted a back scratch. They could be twins.

 We rode this elephant. He almost took us swimming, which is part of the show but I was not thrilled. See comment about animals above.

We left our villa at 2AM, drove across the island to arrive at the base of the Batur Volcano at 4AM. We hiked for 2 hours straight up, I swear, but it was so that we could watch the sun rise! Beautiful! Check it out!

It was chilly at the summit and we had hot chocolate - which was probably Hersheys syrup in water. Then we hard boiled our breakfast (eggs) in the volcanic smoke. (It is still an active volcano.)

The rice paddies. They were beautiful!

                                      This is the beach behind our Villa. Black sand. Cool.
 They had temples everywhere. Buddhist and Hindu. They are obsessed with their temples and with making offerings to their Gods.  In fact, the workers at our villa made offerings everyday on our behalf. Offerings are these:

Banana leaves with various flowers in them. If they are on the ground, they are to keep the evil spirits away. If they are not on the ground they are an offering to the good gods. A typical family makes 25-50 offerings a day. They also put objects on themselves to show you that they are praying. I was trying to be courteous to a server at a restaurant in telling her that she had rice on her forehead. She informed me that she was praying. I thought she was messing with me but then I saw rice on other people too. I am going to use that the next time I get food on myself. :) 
 These were legit chicks. I don't know how they make them colored like that. We were told that they hatch colored.

OK, I think that this was a mans bathroom but I want to add that bathrooms in the world are not all created equal. Many bathrooms we went in did not have toilet paper and instead had a hose. Like, a bidet or washlet but not that sophisticated. What would happen is that a person, namely me, would go into a bathroom, would sit down, realize that there was no TP anywhere - not even a dispenser - and notice a hose, like the kind that you would use on your kitchen sink. This method does not come naturally and I usually left a mess of sprayed water everywhere. There were also toilets that had a bucket of water sitting next to them. There was scooper inside it. You apparently are supposed to "flush" by using water from the bucket to fill the toilet. I learned this after a few toilets where I walked away without flushing. This is a long paragraph but seriously, you don't even know the value of the simple toilet sitting in your bathroom right now. If you go somewhere that is third world country, ask for a "Western Toilet". You're welcome.
Our driver took us to his store (his wife runs a small open air shop). We met his wife and daughters, I am now friends with one of them on Facebook but can't understand the language that she posts things in. Our driver, Made (pronounced Maddie), also let the boys ride their scooters. 

 We did a cooking class one day and met these awesome people. There were 3 girls "on holiday" from Germany and Hungary, I think. One was taking a 2 week break. Another a month long break and the other was going to travel for 6 months, go back to Germany and have her job waiting for her! Crazy! We really enjoyed cooking with them. This was one of my favorite experiences.

This was Tyson's favorite activity: finding hot, spicy foods cooked by street vendors. This one was his favorite and cost 5000 Rupiah which was 40 cents USD. Food was so cheap there. I think one meal that we had was $7 USD total for 4 of us.

 Jeremy and Tyson went and swam with the Dolphins. This is hard to see from this camera. We weren't allowed to take pictures.

 Delicious. This was meat on a stick grilled right in front of us and the next picture is grilled corn on the cob. So yummy.

These are fish - eating the dead skin off your feet and legs. I did not particularly enjoy this because I don't like fish touching me. It felt like they were vibrating on my feet but I wouldn't look at them because I knew I would freak out. This takes time to get used to.

This was our view from the villa. We had a 3 bedroom villa with an outdoor eating area, which we ate at everyday. We had this pool all to ourselves and the Indian Ocean right out the back gate.

That is the link to Bali Diamond Estates to get a better idea of what the place looked like. The furniture was different and we were in the right part of the duplex but they were all pretty much the same. Our outside chairs were blue, instead of red, obviously.


 These are our good friends, Tyson and Angela Jensen from Tremonton, Utah. We partied at all hours of the day and night with them. This was a really amazing trip!

When we got home we gave our kids their gifts. These are traditional temple attire that the kids wear in Bali. They go to their temples daily and wear these clothes. We made our kids put them on. Cody really hated his.

 But they got over it.

 And the thing I think I missed the most (sorry kids) was cereal and milk. They do not have that there. I had a big bowl at 3pm when we got home. Jeremy said, "That looks so good." I am grateful to be an American!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Real, deep, and personal

First of all, I need a blogger tutor. I can't figure out how to make my family picture (at the top) centered and smaller so for now - BAM - there we are!

I guess since I posted a picture of our white family with a brown teenager (Mertina), I should update this blog. If you go back in history you can track our history with Mertina. She hadn't been to school for 4 years. We helped get her back in school, then something happened with her family and she ended up living with us since February. We are in the process of trying to get guardianship of her. She doesn't like for people to know her story so we are going to leave it at that. Suffice it to say that she fell through the cracks of society and the school system but we have gotten her back into the real world and now we have ourselves a real live teenager, complete with a fun but sassy attitude.

I think that I am ready to post about some personal things that have really been going on at my house. We have had a very rough few years and I am going to be very open about what has been happening here. I hope that maybe this post will help someone dealing with similar issues or at least help me to let go of the whole thing.

If you have ever heard me talk about Kaitlynn and school, you would know that she hates HATES it! She has hated it since Kindergarten and would have dramatic outbursts right after school almost everyday - for the last 3 years! At first I thought it was just because she was tired, or school was too long. I talked to her teachers who said that nothing was abnormal at school but she would come home and just blow up at me. Like scream, cry, yell, hit, etc for no logical reason. The word "homework" produced spectacular displays of anger and rage that could warrant a visit from Security Forces. So last year I decided to do something about it. After first grade I tried "homeschooling" over the summer. Cody had to do it too. Cody was like "whatever" and just got his worksheets done, no problem.
 Kaitlynn, on the other hand, would get in the fetal position and cry for 20 minutes to an hour EVERY DAY! I was like, "Oh no, kid. Not this time. We are going to do this everyday until you submit." She couldn't possibly cry all summer, right? I mean, eventually she would get used to the idea and just do it even if she hated it, right?   Psh! Joke's on me, I guess. Every flippin day all summer. I even took the homework with us on our visit to the states. At one point my dad came out from his soundproof office and said "everything okay out here?"
No. It's not. This child with and angel face is obviously possessed by a devil, can't you see?

So when real school started back up I was like, "See you later, kid. At least I get a 6 hour break even if you don't seem to be learning anything."

Things must have been escalating from last August until January but when you live with an abusive person, (I don't use that term lightly. She seriously was physically and emotionally abusive to me and Cody.) you maybe don't notice the progression. You just deal with the stress that each day brings. When Jeremy left with a week's notice in January of this year, I basically had a breakdown. I wouldn't go hang out with friends. I just stayed home and cried almost everyday. I wouldn't say that this was all because of Kaitlynn, I just felt very much out of control in my own life. I decided to take that huge trip to the states to try and help curb the sadness. I like being busy and there are few things that keep you busier than trying to catch a military flight across the Pacific Ocean and then a 12 hour drive to Idaho....and back.

When we got back, though, things were not better. Plus then Mertina had that thing happen to her and she needed somewhere to go. I wanted to help her. Jeremy came home from training and I was still a mess. I thought the depression was caused by him leaving but it wasn't, I guess.

After almost every other day experiencing severe fits of rage from Kaitlynn (That I recorded because I was starting to feel crazy having a 7 year old that I was afraid of.) I finally sought help. I realized that this was not normal, that it wasn't something that I could strong-arm my way through. She needed help. We needed help... And help was not coming. We live on a tiny island with one Child Psychologist on it. The wait to get in to her was a month. I remember that they called to ask if they could move our appointment back by another week. The secretary called right after a particularly difficult rage event and I begged BEGGED them not to move us back (after I stopped crying enough to gain some composure.) They said they couldn't and it was a really awkward conversation because I didn't want to hang up. So we managed to get through this horrible time where Kaitlynn didn't want to go to school and she wanted to kill me everyday after school.

We finally got to see the child psychologist. Whoa! She couldn't believe that we dealt with it for so long and said that they needed us to move to another location in the states where Kaitlynn could see a psychiatrist for therapy and medication. (By the time we had this first visit with the psych, I had started taking Prozac to help me.) When she said that we needed to move right away, I was like..."Um, I can't cry because of the Prozac but excuse me while I have an anxiety attack." My kid can't handle her life as it is and you want us to move back across the world? - not to mention, I have this teenager who has nowhere to go and we don't have guardianship of her yet. I actually managed to shed some tears after I left her office but I could tell that the Prozac had me numb.

While we were waiting to see the psychologist, I had been to every doctor at our clinic and no doctor was willing to prescribe Kaitlynn medicine until the psychologist said it was ok. Now that the psych was on board, I could start some medication for her. I was not opposed but not an advocate of medicating children before all this but I would have done ANYTHING to help her and I started to see that there are situations where medication is warranted for us and for others.

So fast forward a few months. Kaitlynn has had a learning disability test (8 hour test) to figure out what is wrong. She has been diagnosed with:
Generalized mood disorder (This is similar to depression but she is also defiant, which doesn't usually accompany depression so it is a mood disorder.)
Anxiety  and
ADHD (During the test she was hanging upside down in her chair, swinging her hair around. Boo-yah! Classic diagnosis.)

So here we are. Mental illness runs in my family. Specifically, depression and bi-polar. My sister and brother, and mother were/are bipolar. I know how these crazy people are - and that is probably not PC but seriously, they act so illogically and inconsistently that either they are crazy or I am. I have been met with skeptical family members who believe that society is so quick to diagnosis children with some sort of problem. Maybe that is true, maybe it isn't. I have read my sister's journals and I believe that maybe she could have been helped with medication or therapy for bi-polar rather than my parents just believing that she was so difficult to raise. I have also lived this myself as the parent. It sucks! It is hard. I don't understand it. I felt so hopeless for so long that I just accepted that Kaitlynn and I would never have a good relationship. It was horrible.

About a week after she started medication, I heard her singing in her room - SINGING! She hadn't done that in...I don't know how long. She started coming to tell Jeremy and I that she loved us. The rage outbursts subsided and I could see that my determination to "work it out myself" hindered the opportunity for her to feel better and happier.

Currently, with her medications working (for the most part) we are staying on Guam until our scheduled move date this coming June. Because we have a diagnosis, are receiving the therapy that is available here, and Mertina's papers are being worked on, I feel happier and am getting back to my normal self. I am almost weaned from the Prozac, (which is an amazing drug, and I was so grateful to have it.) and we might just survive this whole thing.

I could blog about how to deal (and what not to do) with a foster teenager who has been neglected as well, but I will save that for another time. The moral of the lengthy story is...if something doesn't feel right for you, your kids, or spouse  - or your life isn't joyful, seek out help. There is an amazing world out there to experience. Sometimes I think you have to fight to find it. Don't wait for 3 tough, frustrating, abominable years to pass before you realize that there is a better life out there.

So to end on a positive note, I will add some random pictures hoping that will make you all feel happier.

Kaitlynn and Mertina

Mertina and her BFF Darnarie

I find selfies on my phone all the time.

Grandma came to visit and exhausted all of us by wanting to go to the beach every day.

Jeremy and I at his award ceremony. He got a cool award from the Army (He is in the Air Force so an Army medal is pretty cool.)

Jeremy on top of our friend Tyson. They are tight.

Cody and Kaitlynn after ziplining.


Take your kid to work day. We are in a dump truck.

These are the cool tools that Jeremy works with in Red Horse.

Mertina, me, Darmarie getting ready for our Cinco de Mayo Party.