31 December 2011

snapshots [december 2011]

snapshots [december 2011]

20 December 2011

[11 months]

eleven months
[braving the NY winter - who dresses this poor kid?]

 baby cedar (i've got to use that phrase as much as possible, because its close to not being applicable anymore) is growing & changing like crazy & its a real joy to be a front row observer.  at 11 months, he's not walking yet, but has become a very fast crawler & enjoys toddling around holding onto couches, chairs, tables, people's legs, whatever he can find.  he has 3 words that we can recognize and they are all khmer (cambodian) words so far.  he says the baby forms of ch'gai (dog), p'gaa (flower), k'bal (head).  he also knows the cambodian sounds for "don't do that", which sounds like eht eht.  we know he knows that one, because he often says it to himself when he is doing something he is not supposed to do - he's a mischevious one, that's for sure.

at 11 months he has 4 teeth.  we get a kick out of the top two, because his outer teeth are coming in before his middle ones, so he looks a bit like a vampire when he grins.

cedar + teeth
[vampire baby - pictures by jamie, more to come later]

he's a good eater & this month his favorites have been rice & his grandma mary's (who he visited this month, more on that later too) turkey soup.  he's still not a very good sleeper, but makes up for it by being pretty happy & charming when he's awake.  (& his momma makes up for it with lots of coffee)

when cedar was born, i thought there was nothing  cuter and more fun than the tiny baby he was.  but i was wrong.  sitting in a cafe yesterday, i saw some new parents with their newborn & realized what a difference 10 short months makes. he's so much more fun than that little guy who could only sleep & cry.  at 11 months, baby cedar is a complete delight & we couldn't be happier to be journeying with him.

cedar in ben's overalls
[bonus picture: wearing uncle ben's hand-me-downs, 30 years later]

19 December 2011

phnom penh + evictions + injustice

 a good short video news report about some of the eviction issues happening in phnom penh recently.

17 December 2011

welcome to our world [naomi sky charity]

welcome baby naomi

Its so fun when our family gets bigger - welcome baby naomi!  
we are thankful to God for your safe arrival & can't wait to meet you.

11 December 2011

Returnee Integration Support Center [a peek into Daniel's work]

here is re-post of a story that Daniel wrote for the MCC Cambodia blog about his work. To learn more about RISC and how you can support their work, visit their website at www.risccambodia.org

[RISC case worker, Mr. Sarith (on the left), meets with a returnee in Battambang Province, Cambodia]

Returnee Integration Support Center
Posted on December 8, 2011 by MCC Cambodia

The worst of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia’s civil war ended more than 35 years ago. But, the impact of this catastrophe has left fissure lines that continue to stretch out to today. One such line runs from Cambodia, through Thailand, to the USA, and back to Cambodia, where the repercussions continue to be felt.

During the Khmer Rouge-era, Thai refugee camps were filled with Cambodian adults and children fleeing violence and starvation. During the 1980s, the American government responded to this crisis by accepting nearly 200,000 Cambodian refugees.

While the genocide and hunger was safely behind them, for many members of the Cambodian American refugee community, the struggle was not over. Rural Cambodian farmers, often with limited English abilities, were now forced to learn how to live in American cities. With limited options, many of the refugee children learned from – and assimilated into – the local culture of America’s inner cities. Unfortunately, some of these children (now young adults), found their way into the US criminal justice system, serving time for crimes committed.

But the story doesn’t end here. Although these individuals were legally admitted as refugees, and many of them spent almost their entire youth growing up in the US (some having been born in Thai refugee camps shortly before immigration), they were not automatically considered US citizens.

In the 1990′s, US immigration law changed: Now, all non-US citizens with felony convictions would be deported. In the early 2000s, Cambodia began to accept deportations and the removals began. The law is retroactive, applies after serving time in jail – no matter how long ago – and gives no room for judicial review, or consideration of current contributions to society.
The result has been tragic. Families are torn apart, bread-winners taken from their jobs, and returnees (some with mental disabilities) are placed in a country where they often lack the necessary cultural or language knowledge to survive – a second traumatic relocation. Since 2002, nearly 300 individuals have been deported to Cambodia, with thousands more expected. They can never return to the US.

In response, a local organization has been established, called the Returnee Integration Support Center (RISC). RISC provides cultural orientation, temporary housing, job assistance, legal monitoring, emergency medical support and – most importantly – a center where the returnee community can gather together, in addition to receiving many other forms of support.

For the last 5 years, MCC Cambodia has partnered with RISC. We provide funding and advisor support, assist the organization with capacity building, fundraising, and organizational development, and have posted members on its Board of Directors. This has been been one of MCC Cambodia’s most important partnerships: helping to meet a need that falls outside of classic development sectors (HIV/AIDS, gender, environment, etc.), and helping to support and empower a unique and vulnerable community that would otherwise fall through the cracks. To learn more about RISC, visit their website at www.risccambodia.org.

Studio Revolt has produced a powerful short film featuring exiled Cambodian-Americans. View the movie here


10 December 2011

gratitude [go blues!]

thank you auntie hannah
[thanks aunt hannah for my first hockey jersey.  
i always thought i'd be a sabers fan, but it turns out that i cheer for the blues - shhh don't tell my uncles.]

& so it goes. [turning 30]

Amanda's 30th Birthday Party

turns out that turning 30 isn't so bad when you get to spend the evening celebrating on a boat along the mighty mekong dancing with beautiful friend to the sounds of  phnom penh's best bluegrass band*.

& noticing a lunar eclipse during the bluegrass version of tiny dancer only makes it that much sweeter. 

* this may be a biased proclamation, but i sure get a kick out of the grass snake union band.  watch all six of them (plue one small child) playing in a tuk tuk driving around the city here with the tuk tuk sessions (one song. one take. one tuk tuk) .

** and thanks to steve chee for the beautiful moonlit photos

8 December 2011

snapshots [november 2011]

snapshots [novebmer 2011]

6 December 2011

gratitude [ben & lindsay]

thank you ben & lindsay
[thanks uncle ben & auntie lindsay for the sweetest & cuddliest veggies!]

3 December 2011

[10 months]

10 months

at 10 months, baby cedar has taken movement to the next level; he pretty much cannot stay still for longer than 1 second.  he's got crawling totally down & zips all around the house, happy to follow behind whatever adult is around at the moment.  he pulls himself up on absolutely everything & enjoys cruising around that way too.  his cutest new trick is that he's learned how to groove to a beat - current favorite albums are baby beluga, & his half-pint harmoney lullabies.  he is also the proud new owner of 2 teeth & loves playing with cell phones more than any of his toys.

cedar + cell phone

[pinkie up is really the only civilized way to eat a phone]

but his biggest accomplishment this month has been the debut of his first word.  he now proudly says "gai, gai", whenever he sees a dog or hears a bark (which, if you've ever talked to us on the phone you know is ALL the time).  it comes from the cambodian word for dog - ch'gai.  (his pronunciation is great, i just knew it was only a matter of time before his cambodian language skills began to overtake ours.  i've been trying to say that word for 3 years & still can't get it quite right!)

he's also became quite dramatic (see below).  he is not a quiet, sweet little guy anymore.  no, he is really, really LOUD (& ok, still sweet).  whether its just babbling to himself,  telling ming kohm a story, or actually trying to get our attention, this little guy has learned how to make his presence known.

10 months & very sad
 [expressing himself after he crawled so happily & quickly towards mama's camera & then wasn't allowed to play with it.]

3 November 2011

on knowing another culture [3 years in cambodia]

beautiful family

somewhere along the way, i wrote this quote in my journal under the heading 
"on knowing another culture"

When you've been in a place for two weeks you feel you can write a book, 
once you've been there for a few months you're happy if you can get a few coherent paragraphs together 
and after you've been there for many years you're not sure if you can write anything at all.*

little boy blue in kampong chamthis season has been a time of reflection for us, as we've had a break between travels & have also been intentionally trying to carve out more time for rest in our lives. 

as we've come our three-year marker (really? already?) we've been processing a lot.  when we left home, it felt like our 3-year commitment was large & looming & that we would come away from the experience so changed, so different, having learned so much about what it means to go, to follow, to serve, to be among the poor.  

well.... yes & no.  our time here has passed in the blink of an eye, life here has been much easier than we expected - filled with such joy, friendships & travel.  but also harder too as we've had to un-learn a lot of the things, beliefs, assumptions, & cultural certitudes we thought we knew. & we thought were solid docking points & that sort of education can be quite unsettling.    

so, while clarity will likely always elude us as we encounter life in all its complexity, what have we learned after 3 years here in Cambodia? 

o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o 

that a masters degree in development doesn't mean you know to respond to a child begging you for food.  that we are not the ones we've been waiting for. 

that Joy comes with the morning.  

amanda in kampong cham
that here & there & everywhere, beauty & brokenness cannot be un-twined.  that genocide, atrocity, violence is not a sudden, distinct evil - its your childhood friend wielding a farming tool & following orders, too afraid to disobey, to risk the consequences.  its us too afraid to speak out & challenge oppression, to risk the consequences.  

that we all, all, all need mercy & grace.

daniel in kampong thom

that even when we don our best results-based-management-theory, the outcomes are hard to measure.  that maybe transformation can't be written into a logframe.  that the process is the development.  

that faith is the substance of things hoped for & the evidence of things unseen.

o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o       o    

however, one thing we do know for certain is how unbelievably supported we have felt these past three years.  we have been grounded & blessed by our rock solid communities both at home & our new community here.  thank you for all of your support, encouragement & prayers; our cup has & continues to, overflow.

*i'm not sure where this quote comes from & google is no help - sorry to whoever first said this!
** a disclaimer - actually the bulk of our work takes place in an office, but those pictures are not interesting, so i'm posting the field visit ones!

31 October 2011

snapshots [october 2011]


29 October 2011

[9 months]

[9 months]

cedar james seems less & less like a baby by the day.  at 9 months his personality is really coming out (mischevious & jolly, i'd say).   the bottom's of his feet are no longer baby smooth & this little guy is on the move.  his recent check-up stats came in at 80th percentile for height, 30th for weight, & 90th for head size.  on paper that adds up to an odd looking baby, but luckily for cedar it adds up to continued cuteness.  

cedar's acquired some new skills this month (loyal fans, i.e. grandparents, see video here) & also added in some new stranger anxiety along the way as well.  (we're hoping thats just a phase!)  the quirky guy doesn't seem to mind cambodian strangers holding him, but has been crying at other foreigners lately.

he's been eating lots of rice & vegetables & is proud of his lone tooth.  we're happy for him to stay mostly toothless for now, because we still can't get enough of his wide, toothless grins!

toothless grin

we'd like to hit pause for awhile, because we can't really get enough of this sweet little 9-month old.

*photos by our great friend & wonderful photographer steve chee

21 October 2011

reunion in a russian tourist trap [phuket]

the hastings family reunion really kicked into full swing when we all (blaine, lindsay, daniel, cedar & i) met up with our brother ben & his girlfriend lindsay in bangkok.  we had found a great deal on a trip to phuket, so we headed to the beach!


we had NO idea what we were getting into.  i think i thought that phuket would be like our beloved kep, but just bigger & with more hotels.  

not even close.  

phuket was tourist-filled beyond anything we'd seen in southeast asia.  despite the tourist trap vibe, we had a good time relaxing at our hotel (which turned out to be completely full of russians, even the menu & signs were in russian!) & taking a really amazing boat trip out to phi phi island.  turns out phuket is popular for a reason; its beaches & islands are fantastically bright & beautiful & even a boat full of feisty russians couldn't ruin that.    

19 October 2011

& I'll meet you at the station [night train from laos]

cedar + sophia

[my favorite train photo - cedar & his buddy sophia]

our travels with blaine & lindsay took us on an overnight train from vientiane, laos to bangkok, thailand with our entire MCC team.
it was 12-hours, but we actually really enjoyed it!

train from laos

our seats had fold down tables where we could eat & play games & after that they folded down into bunk beds! when it got dark a nice train worker came & made up our beds with sheets & blankets & we all snuggled up for a night of sleeping to the soothing sounds of the rolling train.

9 October 2011

gratitude [elle's parcel of sweetness & light]

ever since this parcel arrived,  it seems like the phrase "thanks, my friend michelle sent it to me" has been a constant refrain around here.

elle's collage

thanks, elle, for the parcel filled to the brim with sweetness & love & for keeping our whole family attired with style & charm!

6 October 2011

snapshots [september 2011]

snapshots [september 2011]

4 October 2011

seasons [3]

turns out mohawks run in the family.

25 September 2011

we heart it because we made it [cloth high chair]

having baby cedar has changed our lives in a very lot of ways, but actually one of the changes we notice the  most is how it has changed the way we move around the city.  in our pre-cedar days, we traveled very happily to & fro on our little 100 cc moto (what they are called here, i think its the french word for motor scooter).

[the "you" sign was for a project - this was the only picture i could find of us on our moto!]

since we have seen several moto accidents involving babies, we figured we'd wait awhile before our family moto riding begins.  so, in the meantime, we've taken to traveling around by tuk tuk. which is basically a little carriage carried behind a moto

tuk tuk travel
now, a tuk tuk feels pretty luxurious compared to a moto, but its still no piece of cake trying to transport ourselves & cedar & all his baby accouterments (really, who knew how much stuff one little baby can use!).  which brings me to our current dilemma - how to eat out (a real cultural pastime here since its often the same price as cooking at home....& doesn't heat up your house & is easier too!) with cedar.  in the past we just took him & set him on the table or on a blanket on the floor (plus the restaurant staff often take turns holding him anyway which is always great!).  but now our little guy can move a lot & basically needs a place to be restrained. since high chairs at restaurants aren't very common here, when we go out, we have to take along some sort of chair or umbrella stroller, which is a pain, particularly when traveling alone in a tuk tuk or by bus, which is how we travel whenever we leave phnom penh. dilemma.

cedar with sophoen tuk tuk 
so! i was excited to find the perfect solution while we were in kampot a few months ago.  a family there had this cool high chair thing that was made out of cloth & could fold up to be really small.   now, with  the solution to our troubles in mind, i searched high & low on google for "cloth high chair patterns", but couldn't find any in the totseat style.  thankfully, daniel (who is a much, much better sewer than i) was able to make a pattern based on some pictures we took of the baby in kampot & now we have our very own homemade version! (if you want a copy of the pattern, just email me)


so far, baby cedar seems to like it.
cedar + cloth high chair-1

we're off for a week in hanoi tomorrow, which will be the true test.  daniel made a sweet little carrying case too, so it sure was easy to pack!

headed to vietnam

23 September 2011

gratitude [two crafty grandmas]

thanks to my two grandmas for such handmade goodness

thank you oma & grandma
[thanks oma for the coolest cross-stitched wall hanging 
& thanks grandma for the sweetest leaf shirt]

21 September 2011

[8 months]

[8 months]
[8 months & the old man grin is back!]

baby cedar continues to grow & change at breakneck speed & we actually can't believe he is 8 months old already.  this is the month he became truly mobile & now alternates between scootching, crawling & wiggling his way through his days.  his new nickname is "cedar the curious cat" because he wants to look & touch & explore everything & everyone.  gone are the days of chilling calmly on a blanket, this little baby is on the move.  thankfully we have a bit more energy to chase after him these days now that he's gone back to sleeping through the night - hooray!

in some ways, it seems like baby cedar has always been with us & in other ways it seems we're just now realizing that baby cedar is always with us - we're not just babysitting, soon to return to our normal life. this smiley little guy & all the changes he's brought with him (most notably the lack of sleep & the realization that our schedules are no longer just about us) are here to stay!

18 September 2011


daniel: (waking up in the middle of the night): see, i knew it!
amanda: um, you knew what?
daniel: i knew the tiger would win.

17 September 2011

gratitude [cris]

cedar + nikki mcclure
thanks auntie cris for the beautiful nikki mcclure book.
 (i think its fair to say i'm a lifelong fan!)
 i'm learning all about what farmer's markets are like in north america.  so far my favorite page is the one with all the red apples. 

15 September 2011

laos [luscious & lovely luang prabong]

its hard to know where to begin when describing our trip to laos.  it was such a beautiful, lush, welcoming country & we loved our time there. 

descending into laos
[daniel & baby cedar checking out our descent into laos]

from siem reap, blaine, lindsay, daniel, cedar & i took a flight that dropped us off in northern laos, in a town called luang prabang.  we were en route to an mcc regional retreat so we joined up with several mcc friends there.

pagoda laos
[laotian temple buddhas]

luang prabang is officially one of my favorite place ever (perhaps vying with ubud in bali for tops). the whole town is a unesco heritage site & with good reason.  the town is a great mix of charming, vibrant, & exotic all set along the picturesque banks of the mekong & lush mountain valleys.  highlights included a trip to a waterfall, a boatride on the mekong, great times with friends & family, & the really delicious laotion food.  (its much spicier than cambodian food, which was a fun change.)


*pictures by a combination of hastings, talstras, & fowlers

a note to travellors: don't be tempted by the $1 street food buffet, even after 3 years of living in cambodia, it knocked both daniel & i out with gusto!

13 September 2011

blaine & lindsay in cambodia

in july & august we were lucky enough to host two of my (amanda's) brothers & their lindsays (yes, they have the same name).

first to arrive on the scene were blaine & lindsay!  we hadn't seen them since their wedding exactly a year ago, so it was great to catch up, hear about their new life in colorado, introduce them to their nephew & show them our life here in cambodia.

Blindsay & Amandaniel

we had some laid back days in phnom penh - recovering from jet lag on our porch,  playing with cedar, & eating fried tarantulas (eek).

blaine & lindsay in cambodia

after a few days in phnom penh, we headed to siem reap to explore angkor wat.  we'd been there before, but it really never ceases to be awe-inducing in its sheer epicness & this time, we had a really good tour guide to boot! (seen in the umbrella shot below, explaining something very meaningful to lindsay)

angkor wat

after angkor wat we headed to laong prabong & vientiane in laos & phuket in thailand, but more on that later.

*pictures taken by a combination of hastings & talstras

12 September 2011

worry & peace

Peace I Leave with You

we start our monthly mcc team meetings with a short devotion time.  this month was my turn to lead & i prepared to share about worry & peace & how even when we're not lying awake at night worrying about big things (like really bad things happening to people we love, plane crashes, economic collapses, etc) there are so many small worries, stresses, anxieties that can steal the joy & meaning of the present (fear of not getting everything done in a day that we need to, of not pleasing others, of not making the right decision, etc).

but in the moment, as we all rushed into the office on monday morning with a bustle of printing agendas, wrapping up language studying, & organizing our presentations for the meeting, it seemed like the right time to stop talking about relinquishing worry & accepting the peace of Christ & a time to sit in the silence & actually pray, reflect & receive it.   a few quiet minutes before a staff meeting was too short a time, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

8 September 2011

gratitude [tiger toes]

tiger toes
[thanks courtney & joe for the loveliest of baby blankets
& aunt tracy for the sweetest tiger toed pajamas]

5 September 2011

snapshots [august 2011]

snapshots [august 2011]

3 September 2011

picture of the day [kampong cham bath]

recently cedar & i (amanda) traveled to a rural part of kampong cham province to observe a women & children's righs training that MCC supports.  during the lunch break the mings (aunties) thought cedar needed a bath & i couldn't resist snapping a photo.


20 August 2011

[7 months]

[7 months]

at seven months, baby cedar is getting more fun by the day.  we keep saying to ourselves, "he's so much more like a real boy now".  it was a busy month for cedar - he hung out with two sets of uncles & aunties & slept in eight different beds (including a train sleeper car!) as he traveled around to laos, thailand & siem reap (twice!). he also rode on six buses, five airplanes & sailed on three different boats (one on the mekong, one on a laotian resivour, & one in the gulf of thailand)

but more on the adventures later....

this month cedar's been experimenting with making noises & funny faces, eating real food, & spending most of his time practicing his new sitting, standing & scootching skills, being tossed around by his dad & grinning at ming kohm.

old man grin
he debuted an utterly fabulous old-man-grin which he flashed like crazy for two weeks & then promptly stopped all together.  it was great while it lasted.

sitting standing cedar
[displaying his new standing/sitting skills]

he still hates the thought of going to sleep by himself in his own bed & as you might imagine, two weeks of backpacking around se asia with his parents & aunts & uncles didn't help much.  but now that we are home,  our sleep training resolve has been strengthened & we'll keep working on that one.  here's to hoping that the next update will tell a tale of a happily-sleeping-through-the-night-baby & his well rested parents!

19 August 2011

gratitude [chris & liz]

thanks liz & chris
[thanks liz & chris for the awesome bath duckie & handmade bean bags!]

cedar with bean bag