Looking back on 2012

Posted by on Dec 9, 2012 in Life in Laos | 2 comments

 Last year we were ridiculously late sending out a Christmas letter. This year we got organized early, just for fun.

(This organization has not so far extended to decorating, baking, or buying gifts, but no one can do everything, right?)

So without further ado, here’s our look back on 2012.

It’s been an “up and down” sort of year …

Should we start with the good news or the bad news?

Let’s start with the bad news, because we’re vegetables-now-and-dessert-later type of people.

Mike is almost always this way, because he actually likes vegetables.

Lisa is often this way because somewhere along the way she learned the skills and rewards of delayed gratification.

Dominic is this way because…come to think of it, Dominic’s not this way at all. Dominic is still a “throw everything else on the floor to the dog and then point at the fridge and whine until they get me some fruit” type of guy. Lisa harbors some grudging admiration for this approach to life and secretly wishes she could still get away with it.


2012 Lowlights

As a collective, we’ve taken way too many courses of antibiotics this year. Lisa has suffered from recurrent ear infections, and both Dominic and Lisa have endured gastro and food poisoning. Against this backdrop….

On January 24th, his parents’ third wedding anniversary, Dominic broke his femur. We couldn’t fly out until the next morning, so it took more than 30 hours to make it a hospital in Bangkok where we could get him treated.

In March, Mike herniated a disc in his back while picking up Dominic. This went undiagnosed until July, when Mike happened to be passing through Thailand on his way to Sri Lanka for work and decided to get his increasingly persistent and severe pain checked out at our favorite regional hospital. When the neurosurgeon saw the MRI result, he informed us the herniation was “huge” and he recommended surgery.

While Mike was getting his back checked out in Thailand, Lisa was in Australia with Dominic and she got some X-rays of her own. In May, she had fallen down the steps while chasing a runaway stroller and badly twisted her ankle. July’s X-rays revealed that she had been walking around on a broken bone for two months.

A week later, we all met up back in Bangkok, where Mike had microdiscectomy surgery on the first of August. Lisa and Dominic spent the next week shuttling between the hospital and the hotel, with daily stops for McDonald’s ice cream sundaes.

Ten days after surgery we flew back to Laos, where Lisa promptly strained her back muscles. Given that Mike was on a strict ban from lifting anything, including Dominic, for two months, we threw our hands in the air and did something we’ve never done before. We put out an emergency “please come and help us” call to the closest set of parents. Lisa’s Mum arrived three days later. But now we’re confusing things, because that last point about Merrilyn’s visit really belongs on the other list.

2012 Highlights

Lisa published her second book! Love At The Speed Of Email was released in June. It’s garnered some wonderful reviews. If you’re looking for a good Christmas present for someone in a long distance relationship, or a humanitarian worker, or anyone confused about the notion of home (or anyone who loves a love story with a happy ending) follow this link to pick them up a copy.

We had a great time visiting relatives and friends in Virginia, DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania in April and May. We had a couple of days away at a friend’s beautiful mountain cabin in West Virginia, and Lisa also attended a writing conference in Michigan.

Lisa had an unexpected visit to Australia this year. When she wasn’t flying alone with Dominic, trying to coax an unsettled and sick baby to sleep, or learning she’d broken her ankle, she really enjoyed it.

We were excited to have some wonderful visitors visit us this year, including both sets of parents, good friends from California, UK, and Australia, and Lisa’s brother and sister in law. (Not to mention Lisa’s Mum coming again for almost three weeks as emergency backup after Mike’s surgery.)

We’ve loved watching Dominic learn to do all those “baby things” – sit up, crawl, walk, and laugh a lot along the way. Now, if only we could teach him to sleep through the night, eat on command, and leave Zulu’s tail alone!

Two and a half months after Mike’s back surgery, we spent a few days visiting a good friend in the happy kingdom of Bhutan. While there we hiked up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery – a steep, five mile hike, at 10,000 feet. Mike carried Dominic all the way up and down again without any trouble, and Lisa made it without needing Mike to carry her as well. All in all, a smashing success.


It’s been a tumultuous year. We’ve got our fingers crossed for far fewer medical dramas next year and even more fun and games.

Stay tuned for that, and because there’s exciting news on the 2013 horizon (and, nope, not another baby).

We hope you have a wonderful, joy-filled, peace-filled, healthy, holiday season.


Lisa, Mike, and Dominic

What was one of your lowlights or highlights (or both) from 2012?


Related posts:

Happy times in Vang Vieng
Things to love about coming home
One Standard Thursday: Life unmasked


  1. As I mentioned on Twitter, I just finished your book, lovely Lisa, and I felt a deep kinship to it. As someone who has worked with women affected by conflict in war zones and post-conflict areas for the past 4 years, the parts about self-care, burnout, stress, home, and love (ie. the whole book) really resonated with me. I am now in graduate school, exploring these questions further from a different angle and giving myself some space to breathe and digest. Reading your book during my holiday break has been one of the highlights of the year. Others include learning, experiencing all 4 seasons (as opposed to fewer!) in one year, being closer to community and loved ones, and making new memories. Happy New Year, and please keep writing!

    • Roxanne! I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed “Love” so much. To have people like you and Marianne really get something out of it is wonderful beyond words. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now – admiring your writing and photography – so it was especially fun to see your name pop up on twitter and now here. Stay well. Really look forward to hearing what 2013 brings for you.