Thursday, October 29, 2009

I think it'll all be worth it...

From March 3rd to March 31st this will be my home on the island of Boracay in the PhilippinesOn this beach
Can't wait!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

For My Val

I have some explaining to do. This is my cousin Valerie...Isn't she pretty?
She is the ORIGINAL Garlock Girl. See, there were 8 babies born in 3 years on the Garlock side. 7 of us were girls (Sorry Darren!) I ignorantly only refer to these 7 as the Garlock Girls. The truth is, Val is the older than all of us and there are even more pretty Garlock Girls younger than us. I just grew up so close to the ones close to my age that I have only referred to them.
I don't know why.
I consider myself fairly close to Val too. When I was 12, she moved to Utah to go to BYU. She took me to her apartment and let me help her set up house. Do you know how cool it is for a 12 year old girl to be in a college apartment?
So Cool!
When Val met her husband, they were never too busy to take us to a movie or to ice cream.
At Bass Lake (our annual Garlock family vacation) she would make up songs and dances for us younger girls. One of her songs is a classic and has not only had verses added to it, but has been taught to younger generations.
Now Valerie is a beautiful, patient and kind mom. I got to watch her and her husband Alan fall in love and have never seen anything less than that between them.
Sorry I haven't recognized you as a Garlock Girl Val, but know that I love and respect you more than my stupid blog lets on!

PS I know some of you may be confused. My maiden name is Claybaugh. Since my mom was an only girl, everyone else was a Garlock except our family. I love my Claybaugh name, but I'm still half Garlock!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gma Marilynn's Birthday Party

This actually happened about a month ago, but it was the weekend before we left for London, so I just haven't gotten around to posting about it.
My Gpa Jerry threw this amazing party for his blushing bride's 80th birthday. (And when I say "Gpa Jerry" I mean he was the "founder of the feast" but as it goes in this family, the women really put their hearts into the details of pulling this off).
Gma Marilynn is my mom's mom. She had 5 children, 4 boys and my mom. My heart is full and my eyes are watery as I think of her and how to describe the woman, grandma, mother and wife that she is. She is STRONG, SMART, completely SELFLESS and DEDICATED. She truly is GRAND.
Since most of the family lives in Southern California, we were so grateful they were willing to travel and meet us (a little more than half way) in St. George.
We got in Friday afternoon and swam with cousins
Since Addie doesn't have any girl cousins, she LOVES to get together with MY cousins and their daughters. Haven is all girl and Addie adores her.
We had Pizza and Cafe Rio at the pool for dinner. Then we headed to The Tuachan, one of our favorite theatres, to see Annie! (a family favorite)
Reese is another favorite girl. Look at these cute babies!
Saturday morning we had a nice breakfast and a beautiful program for Grandma. I want to be just like her when I grow up!
The 3 generations
Most of the original Garlock Girls. There are 7 of us, 6 of which were there, we just took the picture after Amber Jo left (boo) and Cyndi was excused for being 8 months pregnant and in Mississippi (excused, but missed!)
Happy Birthday Gram!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For "Pete"

Do you know I'm talking to you?

In my jet lagged stupor late last night, I remembered something....
...John's employee "Pete" that I told you about in my last post told me that he reads my blog.

Since the rest of the story was so long, I left out unimportant details. One of them is that John had asked me not to use his employees real names. They are so valuable to him and his business and since my blog isn't private, he doesn't want their names to get out. He's scared of losing them!! So I used fake names. Sorry P! I didn't forget you already.

These are two stellar guys!
Even though you can't know their real names, you can know that they were two of the most polite and patient guys I've ever met. They hung with us through loooong car rides, interesting boat rides, some pretty scary moments. I would even ask them "Aren't you bored?" or "Isn't this lame?" But they still never complained!
Even though I made our time in the Philippines sound awful, I really enjoyed the beauty of the country and the people. Not one person was ever less than nice to me. Even when I thought I was being kidnapped, no one was ever mean or even rude.
And, YES!! We are still going back to spend a month there (and, yes, you are still coming Nicole)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Sorry about the drama of my last post. I was just being grumpy and here's why...
(just indulge me in getting this story out of my brain)
Leaving Thailand was kind of a relief. It was so hard to see the immorality so widely and openly accepted. Plus, we were excited to move onto the Philippines and get to work finding a vacation home.
John has 8 employees in the Philippines. This is one reason we have chosen to vacation there. 2 of them have worked for him for 4 years and they have never met, so we arranged for them to spend the 3 days there with us (I would call it a paid vacation, but it just wasn't a vacation). So they picked us up from the airport and got us a taxi to our hotel. It took an hour to go just a few miles because of the traffic in Manila. It was a bad omen.
The next morning our rental car showed up to chauffeur us around the country looking at beaches and the homes on them. When you rent a car in the Philippines, it comes with a driver, which I don't consider a perk, but we had to have him. So off we went, me, John, James, Pete (John's employees), and our driver on a 3 hour drive to the beach. 3 hours on windy roads. It was a nice break to walk the beach and talk to all kinds of interesting characters about various homes. 2 more hours on windy roads, more homes, another hour and lunch. My stomach was so carsick, all I could get down was a diet coke. Actually, lunch was a highlight of the day for me and I'm only going to write it so I don't forget. We ate at a place called Jollibee. It's a fast food place with a weird variety of things. I got my coke and sat to watch out the window. There was a group of kids outside that didn't look homeless or too sad, but they looked hungry. I watched them loiter around for a while until one little boy pressed his head against the window and watched another group of people eat. So I went out and herded all of them in (4 boys and a girl with her baby brother) and told them to order whatever they wanted. One boy was about 3 and couldn't stop jumping. When it was his turn to order, he looked at me and said "Coke too?" I said "Yes." He jumped even higher and faster. It was so stinkin' cute. It cost me less than $10 to feed them all and I gave them my change. The girl was very shy and wouldn't make eye contact with me, but the boys all gave me high 5 and waved when we left. So easily pleased. My kids are so spoiled, they'd never jump up and down for fries and a coke.
Back on the road for a couple more hours and more house hunting. I was a little frustrated because we weren't finding what we wanted, although it was nice to know where we didn't want to be. At one stop we were just 30 minutes away from our last destination for the day. From there we would take a ferry (or row row, as they call it) to another island. As we headed out, we were detoured because a bridge was out, so our 30 minute drive turned into a 2 hour drive. On windy roads. I was so sick, I just needed a still place to lay down, but what can you do? Our little detour made us miss the last ferry of the day. We went to the port and talked to a security guard. He said our options were to higher a private boat that could take us that night or wait until the morning for the ferry. We were anxious to get over that night so we could maximise our time on the island that day, so we opted for the private boat, but we had to have dinner first. After dinner, when we came out of the restaurant it was dark and raining and the security guard was waiting by the car. I still don't know how he knew where we were. He said he would take us to our private boat (no doubt wanting a tip). He climbed into the car with us and pointed our driver in a different direction from the port. Before we knew it, we were stopped in front of a group of broken, shanty homes and there were people all around the car. They opened all the doors and started pulling our luggage out. "Where are we?" "What's going on?" we kept asking. They just kept telling us "Private boat. Private boat." They'd also say "White sand beach" or "Resort." They must know the buzz words. I couldn't see how we were going to a private boat, a white sand beach, or a resort. We weren't anywhere near the port, but off we went into a little ally between these make-shift homes. We were following a cobblestone walkway that was only about 2 or 3 feet wide. Someone had carried my bag off and I hoped it would end up at the same place as me. There were a couple people with little flashlights, but besides that it was totally dark. I just followed and tried to keep up. At point, the whole group went straight and I continued to follow. A woman with a little flashlight yelled to me "No! You go this way." "I want to stay with my group," I told her. "You go this way. Your group this way." By now my group was out of sight and it was just me, John and this woman. my heart started to race and I was worried that they wanted the Americans separated from the rest of the group. John and I looked at each other and didn't know what to do. I called for James and Pete, but they didn't answer. She urged us on her way and we just went. Now I was really scared. We were just getting deeper and deeper in this maze of third world homes without, surprisingly, any shelter from the rain. I whispered to John"I'm scared." Being the big brave man that he is, he said back "Whatever happens, you know I love you, right?" I couldn't talk anymore. We just walked. At one point we had to squeeze past a mom sitting on a little bench with a baby about 18 months. He was jumping on the bench and laughing. I looked the mom in the eye, smiled, then looked at the baby and said "Hi Baby!" They can't be mean to me if I'm nice to them, right? Just when I really was losing hope of this being legit, the ally opened and we were in a little cove of the ocean. I could see the port across the way. The rest of the group was standing in the rain while a bunch of men were sliding a poor excuse for a boat into the water. I had to roll my eyes at our "private boat" but I was so anxious to get on it and away from that place. The woman shoved the flashlight into my hand and pointed for us to join the group. John went straight to James and Pete and told them they never should have left us behind and we were terrified. They said "No. Not in the Philippines. We don't hurt Americans." It didn't make me feel better. There was a boy there about 7 that asked me "Are you American?" When I told him I was he said "Wow! Do you have any money?" I truly had nothing on me or I would've given it to him.
Poor James and Pete were scared to get on the boat because one couldn't swim and one was afraid of the dark ocean. I was the first to jump on. I am less scared of the dark ocean than I am of being robbed, kidnapped or killed.
We were told it would take an hour to get there. I cried and prayed for the first half hour and prayed for the next. After an hour I could still see our destination in the distance and our boat "motor" died... (Silence)... "Wow" John said. "Out of gas," our "captain" (as he introduced himself) said. I laughed. I just had to. And we all laughed. They poured more gas in from a can and we got going again in no time. Another 30 minutes later we were there. Not on a white sand beach or at a resort. We just pulled onto the sand and jumped out into the water. No dock. An old man, about 60, ran down to us and offered his help. He hoisted my suitcase onto his back and lead us to a "resort." Which was really just an old home with rooms for rent. A young girl showed us a room. When she turned the light on, a cockroach scurried under the bed. "$10 a night," she told us. No way. I was so drained. I just wanted to put my head on a pillow without the worry of getting lice. We told her we didn't mind paying a more for something nicer. She showed us another room with a shared bathroom that was outside and across the hall. $20 a night. Finally John said "We'd like something really really nice. We don't mind paying more." So she offered to take us to the nicest hotel on the island. Great. I didn't care what it was going to cost. We all trekked a few blocks (with my suitcase still on old man's back) away from the beach to "The Mermaid." It was good enough for the snobby Americans and we only paid $50 a night for the nicest hotel on (that part of) the island. I took a luke warm shower (I wanted hot) and went to bed.
The morning brought more rain. We had arranged with the old man that carried my bag to rent his boat and have him take us around the island. At breakfast I said "Who thinks we're in for an interesting day?!?!" They all raised their hands and said "ME!" like a bunch of school boys. We were so right.
Even in the rain we headed back to the beach and to the old man's boat which was actually slightly nicer than our private boat from the night before. It was a beautiful, wet ride. We looked at lots of beaches and even walked a few, taking pictures and talking to care takers of the homes. We were going to head around to another part of the island that was supposed to be more promising, but the rain was really coming down and the water was starting to white cap, so we decided we should take the last ferry back to the port and not brave this little boats in this weather.
We got some good contacts on the island and even though we were a little disappointed in not seeing everything we wanted to, we felt good enough to head out. We could have stayed that night on the island, but our flight home left the next afternoon and we were told that we really shouldn't cut it that close because really, if one thing were to go wrong, we would've missed our flight. So we boarded the last ferry out that day. It was only supposed to be a 45 minute ride. We knew to double it. I fell asleep on John's shoulder and woke up when we stopped. "Are we there?" I asked. John just laughed. I heard men yelling "Out of gas. Out of gas." Since our last out of gas incident was only a 5 minute delay, I wasn't too worried. They refueled and tried to start the engine. Nothing. I knew we were in for it. We sat for over 2 hours. We started visiting with other people on the boat. Lots of them were European, the rest Filipino. The entire 8 days we were gone, I never saw another American. Anyone else white was Australian or European.
Anyway, we finally made it back to port when another boat came and towed us. Then we had a 3 hour drive back to Manila. On windy roads. By the time we got back, I was drained. I went straight to the hotel room, took a bath and went to bed. I was completely nonfunctional and I was not looking forward to the 30 hours of travel I had ahead of me. Although I was really looking forward to getting home.
So there you are. My excuse for being grumpy in my last post and for having killer jet lag now.
However, we made it home and found all well here, so now we just have some good stories!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On My Way Home

I'm sitting in the Seoul airport. Just came from Manila and am heading to LA. I can't wait to get home. The last couple days in the Philippines have been completely draining. We were there looking for a home to rent on the beach for when we take the family back for the month of February. It was hard, long, messy work that has made me long for 3 kids, my memory foam, my bath tub, my running trail, my yard, my familiar food, and my extended family, and the Utah Clean Air Act. I have eaten more french fries and drunk more soda in the past 8 days than I have in the past year, simply because it was the only recognizable thing!
Have I got some great stories for you! I need to get home and recover a bit, but they will make their way out of my head and straight to my blog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finally...Thailand Pictures

Our hotel has a little bird sanctuary. This funny little guys are simply labeled "pheasants" Playing the string game with Di

This is for my bro. Jonny
If you have used a bathroom at my house or heard John's testimony about his "bidet" type toilet, you will understand why we have a picture of a sprayer by the toilet in our hotel.
Our ride
Thai taxi...jam a bunch of people into the back of a truck and charge them $3 to get anywhere in the city. We're on our scooter following this group from the seminar to dinner.
Our second foot massage
The beaches are not my kind of beach. There's only about 20 feet of sand before the busy street and there's just no way you're going to get a sun tan with umbrellas set up like this. It costs you a $1 a day to rent a chair and an umbrella.
For lunch we went to this restaurant where things go by on a conveyor belt, you just grab what you want and toss it into boiling broth in front of you to cook. It's all you can eat in an hour and 15 minutes. John tried lots of fun things. I am boring and didn't go for squid or oysters, but I did practice up on my chop stick skills since forks weren't available.
Have you seen this in the US? We saw it in London and expect to see it in LA and New York soon!!
John speaking. He did great and made lots of sales! I crept out half way through (I saw the whole thing in London) to go to the pool, but that got rained out, so I'm blogging in my bathing suit, watching a tropical storm.
Tomorrow we are off to the Philippines.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First Couple Days in Thailand

No pictures for you yet. I know, BOOO! I just don't have the giddy-up to do that right now. But I still wanted to share some of our experience here for those of you that actually read posts and not just skim the pictures (I am so guilty of that when I've been too busy to check my Reader and have 65 posts on it. I know Michelle Jolley is totally guilty of that too because I'll blog about something then talk to her about it later and she'll have no clue what I'm talking about. I can say that here because I'm sure she won't read it! HA HA)
Anyway, Thailand is a far cry from my week in London and my week back at home. It's not too different from most other tropical countries I've been to. All the floors are tile, lizards run up the walls, the trash man is unreliable, people say nice things to you in hopes that you will buy something from them, it's humid, but no one seems bothered by it, I want to take all the children home, they eat lots of rice (can I at least get it in brown?), driving is a little crazy and laws obeyed loosely, and it's just completely gorgeous.
We rented a scooter for $9 a day. The first day we were pointed in the general direction of the beach and just rode. It was fun to see the city that way. We rode all over the place before we stopped at the beach and walked along. The beach isn't great and the water wasn't inviting, so we just walked.
Apparently, Pattaya is the sex capital of Asia- Nice! Every corner has a massage place and everything in between is a bar. It's very common to see old white men with young Thai women. It's foul and disgusting and an unfortunate way of life for people here. We accidentally rode our scooter down a side street and got stuck behind a slow moving truck, so I got a good look the "bars" on the street, most with names I won't bother to share on my G- rated (ok, sometimes PG) blog. Lucky for us though, these massage places offer very good deals during the day. After walking the beach we paid $6 each for an hour long foot massage (we figured that was safe enough). It was great!
We headed back to the hotel so we could be at the "meet and greet" for the seminar where John will be speaking. After an hour, I slipped away and went back to our room to check my email and find out how my kiddos were doing with my mom (awesome, by the way).
That night we went to dinner with the whole seminar. I'm not loving the food here. I just can't figure out why everything has to be hot. The weather is so hot and every meal is served deep fried with steamed rice! How about a little fresh fruit and green salad! The man running the seminar is showing us the special treatment. After dinner, we went back to his home because he wanted to talk to John a little bit (might I mention that he is a white man- Australian- with a Thai wife! She did his laundry, that's how they met!) He has two cute little girls that I played with while they talked. I dreamed of my little girls. His 11 year old pulled out a long string, tied it, so it was a big loop and strung it though her fingers, so it made a big X when she held her hands apart. Do you know what I'm talking about? Then I was supposed to grab the X and loop it through another part of the string and pull it with my fingers. Then it made another design. I'm doing a horrid job at describing this, but I used to play the same thing when I was her age, so I knew how to play. I felt so connected to her. She asked me where I "came from." I told her the United States. She just smiled because she didn't know any follow up questions like "Where in the US?" She just doesn't know much about the US, which is totally fine. I don't know much about Thailand. It's just funny to me that my whole life, my friends and family and home and everything I live for, is in a place that she's never heard of. And I've never heard of hers until recently. But I know now that she like to dance and paint and doesn't like boys yet...
Now I'm just blabbing...
By 9pm we were wiped out. Jet lag hasn't been much of a problem for me. Besides feeling like I'm in a complete time warp over the past few weeks, I've functioned fine day to day. John was up at 3:30 this morning and not tired anymore. I guess he got lots of work down while I slept on, but he's been fully functional today. I'm sure by the time the sun goes down, he'll be ready for bed.
Today was my kind of day. After breakfast (which consisted of deep fried fish and rice- Yuck!) We jumped on the scooter and headed off to do a little shopping. Most prices were disappointing. I did find some good deals and got some fun stuff. And yes, I even found a mother and baby statue! At lunch, the popular (toss toss- we just saw "Wicked" remember?) John Jonas was occupied with adoring fans, so I snuck away to the pool. The pool here is gorgeous (you'll get a picture, don't worry) and I was the only one there! I read every page of the latest People magazine, ordered a pool side ham sandwich and ice cream, and got deeper into my book "The Other Boelyn Girl" (which is fabulous, by the way). John came after an hour or so and shared my ice cream. Towards the end a couple of Middle Eastern men came in Speed-Os and gave me some good "people watching" time. After 4 hours, John was ready to go and had to drag me away (not from the Speed-O men, but from baking in the sun on my lounge chair). Now he is back hob-knobbing and I'm watching the sunset through palm trees, still in my bathing suit.
Half my heart is still at home. I am in a constant prayer "Bless them, bless them bless them" I keep saying to my Heavenly Father. Lots going on at home that I am missing, but all my family knows that they are number 1 to me above cheap foot massages and ice cream by a secluded pool! All my love to you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Now to Thailand

John has another speaking engagement in Thailand and I just had to tag along on this one too. We are here now in Pattaya, Thailand. We left our house at 9am wed morn. It's now 1am thurs night. We lost 13 hours, so missed all day thursday. Total travel time: 26 hours. 1 1/2 hours to San Francisco. Then 12 hours to Seoul, Korea. 5 hours to Bangkok and 1 1/2 hour drive to Pattaya. It was all actually very uneventful. Even though my body is saying it's 12 noon, I'm going to take a unisom and sleep since it's the middle of night here!
Hopefully tomorrow I will have some good stuff for you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Rest of Our London Trip

Our camera died the day before going home, so pictures are scarce and some are from John's phone, so quality is questionable.
Looking down any old street in London. I love all the old architecture.
Buckingham Palace
The fountain in front of Buckingham Palace (I hate being in pictures by myself. It's like when you trip and there's no one around to laugh with you, so you just feel stupid. You just need a buffer.)
So I have to brag for just a bit. I know it's super nerdy, but John is kind of a super star in his industry. The 3 guys he met with for dinner the night I went shopping had taken a train from 3 hours away just to meet with him. These two guys (pictured) also came from a few hours away to meet John. We had a very nice lunch together. The one on the right kept asking how I couldn't just be completely fascinated by John's work (he may have had to wake me up to ask me that- JK). This is the next day. John met with him in the morning (while I did a little more shopping) because this guy wanted to interview him. Afterwards they were taking pictures with John and saying "I can't wait to blog about this." I laugh and laugh because this is the man I watch roll on the floor with my kids and mow the lawn. I'm so proud of his hard work and brains though.
This is pizza with potatoes on it. Ok
A knight and horse in full armor. This is real armor of King Henry VIII.
Other highlights of our trip:
National Gallery. We saw originals from artists like Monet, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, etc. We're not deeply touched by things of this nature. In fact, as we were looking at one of the paintings by I don't remember who, John says to me "Cool. He's also a Ninja Turtle." Classy!
Picadilly Circus. This is London's Times Square. It really is a circus, but just a part of the city where the energy is always high and you can never be surprised by what you see.
China town. Is there one of these in every big city?
This trip was a true dream. I can't thank enough the people who took such kind care of my children so that John and I could remember that we are husband and wife, not just mom and dad, business man and maid. (Thanks Mom, Bonnie and Joel, Cami, and lots others who did lots of little things).
Now we are home for a week and leave for Thailand next Wednesday!!!

Language Barrier

One great thing about London is you get to experience a different culture without the hassles of a language barrier...we thought.
London is such a melting pot of people that many accents were hard to understand. And even though they are speaking the same language, they use words differently.
We got a kick out of this

(Watch your step)
(Bathrooms. This was especially funny to me since here in the US we go to many lengths not to use the word "toilet")

Another good one I never had the opportunity to get a picture of
(Apartment for rent)