We have had some new adventures this week, and we've learned a lot! We have had 2 trips to the hospital, one death defying motorcycle ride, a day at the biggest market in the world, a small miracle, and a wonderful holiday!
So, let's start with the hospital visits! We have heard wonderful things about the hospitals in Bangkok, and everything we have heard about has been true so far, and better! I went in to see a doctor about the lump I've had in my breast for almost a year. I needed to wait until I was done nursing before getting it taken out, and Jane is now done. (She went at her own pace, but it was a piece of cake!) Anyway, so I just called a hospital and made an appointment and told them why. The first doctor I saw was a breast surgeon. That was awesome. It was so nice to not have to go through several doctors and referrals to get to the doctor I already knew I needed to see. Anyway, to make a long story short (and especially for those of you who didn't know I had a lump), he concluded,like everyone else, that it was non-threatening and just wants to watch it. He was great. The service there was very professional and like everyone here, they went the extra mile in helping me understand my new insurance, scheduling my next appointments (showing me exactly where to go), and even seeing me to a taxi. I made my next appointment for Thursday morning (yes, Thanksgiving) because I knew Jeff would be home. I needed to get my TSH levels checked for my Thyroid issue because my medication hasn't been adjusted since the initial diagnosis. I know, I sound like I am 80 years old with medications and lumps. It's really kind of ridiculous.
Well, to make a long story short, Thursday morning was also supposed to be when we did our work visa stuff and we HAD to do it at this exact time. It was very intricatly planned for Jeff and I to meet up at this place to get the paperwork done. But, I forgot the map to get to a very new and remote location. Thanks to an amazing staff at the hospital, me knowing Jeff's email account info., and a very patient taxi driver, Jack and I made it in time to meet up with Jeff and Jane. It was a very stressful and emotional morning, but I was on the verge of tears for the rest of the day just thinking about how grateful I was to be in a country like Thailand. I can't imagine anywhere else that would spring into action like that customer service desk did for me when I came in crying (and completely stressed out) because I couldn't reach Jeff and I was going to miss this VERY improtant meeting! I was SO touched by their sincere concern and willingness to help me solve it. Amazing!
Thursday night was spent at a home of the first conselor in our bishopric. Our branch got changed to a ward last Sunday, which was very exciting news for everybody! There were several missionaries, some couples from the ward, a couple they had met on the bus(?), and our little family (including Dave). It was so nice to have a very traditional Thanksgiving meal and spend time with some of our ward family. This family lives only a few sois over from where our home will be after the new year. We are excited to have members so close, especially people we already love!
This picture is of Jack getting stuck in the chair at the Anderson's. Brother Anderson had to get out his screwdriver to get him out. We thought it was pretty hilarious. Luckily, so did Jack. His favorite part was that Bro. Anderson let him use his screwdriver to put it back together. Jack was loving his new friend.
Jack's first day of "school" with his friends Cyrus and Narissa. He had a GREAT time making a turkey out of his handprints, and making macaroni necklaces. He's been singing "Where is Thumb man?" ever since. He loves having little friends to play with regularly again. And I love their moms, so it all works out! I love the way Jane is looking at him in the second one. Aren't they cute?
We found the local library here and it is darling! You have to pay for a membership, but it will be completely worth it! They had great puzzles and games in the children's area. Jack was in heaven with all the new books! We will start making this a weekly trip! We are excited to take Jeff!
We stopped to get ice cream cones at KFC on the way home the other night. We got Jane her very own cone and actually had them put a little ice cream in it and she was in heaven! This is actually her "posing" for the picture. She did this as soon as I pointed the camera her way! Janie is learning more and more words and signs everyday, and I love it. Learning to talk (and sign) is my favorite developmental stage. She is discovering how much she is really capable of! She even said her first Thai word this week: "gai" (with a downward tone). It means chicken, one of her and Jack's favorites. Our favorite meal for the kids is "kaaw meng gai" (spelling, I have no idea). It is a rice, chicken, and soup dish. We can get enough for the entire family for about 50 baht (just over a dollar). Jack and Jane can't get enough of it.
We spent Friday at the zoo again. It is so big, we still didn't see much. Especially because it rained for a long time! We were stuck in the reptile caves with about 200 school kids! We were looking at the cool snakes, lizards, etc. when I noticed that all the kids around Jack weren't looking at the Anaconda behind the glass, they were looking at Jack! They all played with him and Jane for about 30 min. until it let up enough for us to go out again. It was a little overwhelming at times, but Jack loved the attenion, and the kids loved practicing their english on us. They were so sweet.
Friday night was Jeff's work party, and yes, a party in every sense of the word! Lots of games, a ferris wheel, live bands, costumes, balloons, and lots and lots of beer. They actually said over the speaker "we want you to all have a great time and get very, very drunk!" We knew it wasn't geared for kids, so we had a great time and left at bedtime! I loved finally being able to meet the people I've heard so much about. He is very blessed to be working with such great people. I look forward to getting to know them better.
Speaking of Jeff's work, he wore his "geek" shirt the other day. (If you look in the picture of Jane with the ice cream, you can see it.) One of his coworkers asked him if it said "jeek". He said "no, geek". Everyone laughed, and one of them explained that "geek" is a Thai word for a man who has a girlfriend, but also has many... not girlfriends. Opposites? Maybe a little. Jeff did his best to describe what a "geek" is in our culture, but it doesn't really translate. Jeff is proud to be a geek (in english), even if that might have been a negative thing to be in the past. Being part of the IT field was never a negative thing here. It is considered a "very, very good job" (people we meet on the streets say this to us all the time), and it is!
Saturday, I went with my friend, Som, to the Chatuchak weekend market (sorry, I forgot my camera!). Jeff was awesome, as always, and took the kids to the park, a marathon expo, and got lunch and put them down for naps. What a guy! Jeff and the kids were much happier doing this than being with me! Som and I spent about 3 1/2 hours wandering through the market (and saw maybe 1/8 of it) and got some great Christmas shopping done! Som says she's not a shopper, but we sure had a GREAT time trying to haggle with the salesman and get some good deals! I'm sure we paid more for some things than others, but we got some great deals, had a good time, and learned a LOT! I think we'll get better at it as we go. After the market, we went to one other store and I found the perfect gift that "santa" has really been wanting to bring Jane this year. It was big and very heavy, but I thought "no problem, we're just going to catch a taxi as soon as we get out of here". Nope. After walking a ways, then over several walkways, and getting turned down by 3-4 taxis (because the traffic was bad by my home), we decided to just take the train again. It was another long walk, lots of stairs, and another taxi, but I made it! I was very happy to be home, and also happy to have Jeff tell me that it really was heavy, I'm not just a wimp!
So, what part does a motorcycle ride play in all of this? (Don't strain your eyes trying to find me in this picture, I didn't get a picture of it. This is one from the internet.) Well, getting places in this city is either very convenient or ridiculous. Tuesday night, on the way to the hospital, it was ridiculous. After sitting in a cab for over 30 minutes (and only going 2km), I decided I needed to just hop on one of these motorcycle taxis that had been whizzing by me! I hopped out of the taxi in the middle of the street and caught at motorcycle. They are all over and wear orange vests to identify themselves. He gave me a price and I hopped on. Think of everything you've seen in the movies of motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic, going on the wrong side of the road, maybe even on sidewalks. Well, that is what these guys do. They get you where you want to go, fast! That's what I wanted, so I put on the helmet and went for it. I decided not to try side saddle like I've seen some women do, maybe next time. He got me there VERY fast and almost on time. Several times I looked over at the others using this same mode of transportation but they had an infant or toddler in thier arms. I can't believe they do it, but they do. As much as I love motorcycles, I was very grateful that this driver was more cautions than some I've seen. Wrong side of the road, almost bumping my knees on cars, and fitting into lanes next to busses, yes, but I never felt afraid. That's a skillful driver, right?
Well, what have we learned this week? Don't forget maps, always carry an umbrella, don't buy heavy things on Saturdays, and if you are in a hurry, take a motorcycle taxi! And more lessons to come, I'm sure.