Monday, 9 March 2015

The Greatest Gift I Could Give My Daughter

Wow - I can't believe how overdue this post is.  Sophia and I took this trip together in November of 2013.  It's about time that I wrote about it!

While in Singapore, I learned through friends about a wonderful organization, Caring for Cambodia ( Our family had visited, and been keenly affected by, our trip to Cambodia in November of 2012.  When I found out about the volunteer service trip for ages 9 and up with parents, I knew that Sophia and I needed to go.
So we headed into the unknown by meeting a diverse group of volunteers at the Changi (Singapore) airport for our trip to Siem Reap - our leader was actually a former expat now living in New Jersey who was travelling the entire way for this project.  Caring for Cambodia now runs eight schools in Cambodia in conjunction with the government and has exceeded all goals - they are truly the blueprint for success in this still developing country.  We didn't know exactly what we'd be doing when we arrived, but we were game for anything.

Turns out, we accomplished three major objectives in 3-4 days.  The first morning, we helped serve breakfast at one of the schools.  Sophia and her new friend Gavin were rockstars - I see future teen servers in them! 

During the next couple of days, we built (ground up, even sawed the wood!) new recycle bins, a long paver pathway in front of the classrooms, and most importantly, the foundation for a building that would house a counselor for the female population.  It is so challenging to be a girl in school in Cambodia.  The families routinely expect you to drop out and fill a traditional wife role, and there can be pressure to resort to prostitution to support the family.  CFC is dedicated to changing this dynamic and we were proud to be part of it.  As a mother to a young lady, I was particularly emotionally overwhelmed (nah that never happens to me...).  Our kids were tireless workers - it was truly an inspiration to see them interact with the local children.  When you witness this sort of thing, you realize that language is not a barrier.  We are all the same, wanting and looking for similar things, albeit on different levels.  But it is heartwarming and heartbreaking simultaneously to see the kids playing together happily...knowing that they are on different tracks due to the moment of their birth.

On our off day, we visited the famous Buddhist temple, Angkor Wat, (a second time for us, but it was fun with our new friends!) and had some lovely mother-daughter dinners in "downtown" Siem Reap. 

It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I hope my friends still back in Singapore would consider going!  Please visit for more information.  It's called the MAD trip (Make a Difference).

Please visit our destination page to see our other posts on our trips to Cambodia.  We have a strong connection to this beautiful country and the kind people who've we met.

Gavin serving breakfast

This is how they cook!  Pretty awesome fire pit.

Sophia serving breakfast to the students.

They all gathered each morning for their National anthem.  And if they weren't quiet enough, they did it again.  Can you imagine how the American media would tear this practice apart...

The lovely countryside surrounding the school.

This little boy wanted Sophia to take his picture and show it to him..and he was sooooo proud!

My hard worker!

 This took hours.  For real.
No child labor laws today.

Sarah - rock star and momma hen to all.

I can't get enough of this little girl.  They all wanted to help so much!

That's a lot of rocks!

Long day!

Painted and ready to go!

The girls' building started out smoothly...

And then the STORM came!

Keep on working!


Time out for touring. I love this picture.

Ta Prohm

Sophia and Rath, our favorite employee at Journey's Within Hotel.  She was so happy we were able to take a taxi to come visit the hotel we stayed in previously.  Such a sweet lady.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Back in the Saddle

I really need to get back into my blog.  I have grand plans, of course, but the fact that my laptop screen just died and my Photoshop software is literally 15 years old prevents me from doing much at the moment.  Sadly, I'm borrowing my daughter's laptop, which isn't in much better shape.

So for a little while longer, this blog is going to stay "Sleepless in Singapore" - partly because of my technical issues, and partly because I miss that part of my life and it makes me happy.

I recently decided to start again contributing monetarily to the household.  When I moved overseas, I turned my baby bib and burp cloth business,, over to my mother because it wasn't really a feasible thing to do from there.  So for about three years, I have been thinking about what I would do next. Maybe I was a little bored, maybe I was freaking out about future tuition payments and admittedly maybe I wanted to be able to hit the Lilly Pulitzer section of my local store this spring, but I knew I needed to do something.  Funny how it all started out.

While I was in Singapore, about 18 months ago, my good friend, Shannon West, started selling Rodan + Fields skincare products.  I knew nothing about them, but I knew enough about her to know if she would sell them, then they were worth buying.  At the time, after 40 full years, I still didn't even WASH MY FACE at night.  It wasn't even me wanting to improve my skin.  I just wanted to support Shannon in her venture.  I used to sell "Southern Living at Home" products - not to make money but because I wanted their stuff all over my house!  Once I got what I wanted, I stopped.  But I love when my fellow "stay at home moms" venture out and do something on the side, and I wanted to be supportive.

Well I was in for a little surprise.  I actually LOVED the stuff.  I got hooked, but still never considered the business side of it.  Ironically it took me suggesting the business to another friend to realize "why aren't I doing this?"  I was on vacation in the Outer Banks and found out that one of my best friends, Zareen, also used the products and my other best friend, Whitney, was ordering them while we were there together!  I signed up with Shannon that day.

Multilevel marketing companies get a bad rap.  And I get it.  There are a lot of companies out there who deserve it.  But it's also a wonderful source of income for people like me, people who genuinely believe in what they're selling and find joy in sharing them with other people.  We're not all lunatic cult members intent on only putting bodies on our teams.  Sure, I'd like to sponsor some people, but only if they are excited and I feel I'm ready to support them. 

The WORST part of this job is selling to friends.  And that's pretty much everyone for the time being!  I have no choice but to post on Facebook - I try to stay to a once a week rule, because I am AWARE that it can get so annoying.  I feel so responsible for the happiness of my friends who are nice enough to try these products and I stress about their satisfaction.  Thank you SO much to those that have taken the plunge with me. 

Lastly, I was lucky to be involved in a higher level sponsor qualifying for her Lexus yesterday.  It came down to the wire, and it was an amazing thing to be a part of.  Everyone was so supportive and worked together to help.  It's so nice to again be part of a team and a group of women (and a few men!) who are there for each other and are so invested in each other's success.

So thanks, Shannon.  Two months and I'm excited for the future.  I'm finally making some money again and I think I look younger.  Not much can beat that!

If you want more info, email me a or visit my site at