It has been fun to hear from several friends and family this week and hear that everyone had a wonderful Christmas! The story is the same here in Thailand. It has been a wonderful week together celebrating the birth of our Savior and making memories together. We have taken a LOT of pictures this week, mostly because my kids just elevated to another level of cuteness. I always think they've hit the top, then they do it all over again! Isn't that amazing? Janie is signing and talking even more lately and turning heads everywhere we go. Jack is wow-ing everyone in town with his Thai numbers and a few phrases. I love hearing him and Jeff tell their "together stories" because Jeff laughs just as hard as Jack. He has quite the gift for creative story telling. Our "Curious Jack" is more active than ever, and so inquisitive, it is tiring, but I love it! He tells people regularly, "I can get into anything", and he's right. He can get into, out of, or tie up anything. The funniest part is that Jane is starting to find it fun to do these kinds of things to. She will sit and put the straw in and out of the juice box, the lid on and off the water bottle, or crackers through the slit in the chair. We love watching her learn this way. Well, here are just some of the highlights of our week.
We did a mini version of the Nativity on Christmas Eve (in very homemade costumes. There are countless fabric stores here, but my sewing machine is still on the boat, and who knows if that would have even made a difference!) The kids loved dressing up to listen to the Christmas story. They mostly used the nativity pieces to act out the story. It was a fun way to review the events we were celebrating.
We were so happy that Dave would come and join us for Christmas Eve. Jane hadn't seen him for a while, but really warmed up to him and sat with him through all of our Christmas stories. This reminded me of when I was a very little girl and used to sit with my "boyfriends" when we would go to my Dad's singles ward. I think Jane and Dave both loved the extra attention!
Showing off their new Christmas PJ's. It was quite the challenge to find short sleeved pajamas in the WINTER. Vendors looked at me like I was nuts when I would ask for them. Jack's are also pretty big, but when you shop on the streets, you don't have a ton of selection!
Jeff teaching Jack how to use his new Bow and Arrow. Jack didn't put it down all day, so he quickly became very good at getting his arrows to stick to the television. He was better than I was after about 20 minutes. I think it took him at least 30 minutes before he passed up Jeff. I thought kids weren't supposed to be better at things than their parents for at least another few years. Not the case in our home!
Janie loved her rocking elephant Santa brought for her! She is still figuring out how to get on herself, but she certainly loves to rock and rock and rock... it makes it worth all the stairs climbed, miles walked, and train and taxi rides it took to haul it from the shop on that very busy Saturday. (If this doesn't make sense, check out my post on 25 Nov 2006).
Everyone showing off their new goggles at the pool on Christmas day. It was a pretty cool day and the water was freezing (they don't heat the pools here, because 10 months out of the year it would be unnecessary!), so we didn't get in much. Jane was the one that really wanted to get in, the cold didn't seem to phase her. She surprised us all!
We thought this scooter would be a big surprise for Jack, but when he saw it, he said "My scooter!" Maybe he was just pretending the whole time to believe the whole "glasses" bit. He loves riding his scooter, and we love that we can load it on the stroller and take it to the park with us! Luckily, there will also be room for him to ride it when we move to our new place on Monday! Yay!
We got to see Santa at the ward Christmas party last Saturday, but didn't have the camera. Luckily, he visits the city too! We saw this sweet Santa in the Paragon on Christmas night. He was surrounded by young girls in angel costumes who were handing things out to the children. We were surprised he wasn't with all the "sexy Santa's helpers" we've seen here. There are lots of women in random places (restuarants, departments stores, hospitals, etc.) who are in these "sexy Santa's helper" outifts and I think it's hilarious. They're not trying to be suggestive or anything, in fact they are all very sweet and innocent looking girls, they just wear these little outfits to be festive. I tried to get Jeff to get a picture with a bunch we saw, but he didn't think it was as funny as I did.
Christmas night in the heart of the shopping district. Lots of people out shopping, all the music and lights going full blast. It was a fun night out to dinner with Dave and another of our many favorite walks along the skywalk.
We spent the day after Christmas with our friends, the Strate family, at Safari World. Kaddi and Shane moved here from Wisconsin so he could finish up his research for his Doctorate in South East Asian History. Wow, I hope I got that right. Their kids, Jake and Megan, are as sweet as can be and our kids adore them! Jane would hardly let Jake let go of her hand, and I know Jack loved having other kids to be with.
We saw some really fun animals and shows, but by far, the highlight was this "Safari Terrace" where we could feed the giraffes. We fed them these leaves and lots and lots of bananas. Their tongues are SO long, they would just reach out and get the bananas right out of your hands. Jack was a little hesitant with the bananas, but he warmed up to them after a while. These animals roamed freely in their Safari park with other animals like zebras, rhinos, ostriches, and lots more. It was a really fun day, and the weather was cool enough that we could really enjoy it.
We visited Ocean World several times this week and loved every minute of it! Some of the workers are starting to remember the kids because we come so often. There is so much to see, we could never get bored. Plus, we can always go to the playland! Janie is quite the climber these days!
Thursday morning, we got to visit the Pakkret Baby home. It's an orphanage just outside the city for young children. I didn't quite know what to expect, but knew that I wanted to visit and see if there was anything we could contribute. It was a very positive experience for Jeff and I as well as the kids. Jack mostly just played with the kids around his age. This boy made Jack wrap his arms around his waist so he didn't fall off. I thought that was so sweet!
There was a separate room for the children Janie's age, so I took her in to play for a while. These kids were all very sweet. They played around me and the workers, mostly very quietly. They had balls, blocks, simple rattle toys, and lots of things to climb in and out of. They have plenty to play with, but lack interaction with adults. It was sad to see, but fun to have a chance to play with them. There is one in the back that you can kind of see in the mirror, she is deaf and has obvious physical disabilities, and she was my favorite. She had a spark that I couldn't find as easily in the other kids. She would clap as she knocked down my towers and we would laugh. I loved this.
I found a room where these girls from a University were working with a couple of kids. The boy with his legs crossed has Down syndrome and was learning how to string these plastic blooms onto wire. This little boy was so sweet and clever, he also took his work very seriously. Jane started to come over to him to grab his "blooms" one time, so the next time, he anticipated her interest and quickly turned his back so he could shield his project. These flowers on loops are something you can buy on any street all over Bangkok, but with real blooms of course. People hang them on ancient trees, take them to temples, shrines, etc. or just hang them on their rear-view mirrors for good luck. I assume they are teaching him this skill so he can use it to earn money eventually. Jack loved learning this too, and thought it was so cool to do what we watched a lady do just a few days ago on the street.
We started out all playing with this one little boy, Pon. He will be adopted this next week by a family in London. They wanted us to be with him so he could get used to being with "people like us". After I took Jack and Jane to explore the rest of the place, he melted into Jeff's arms. I wondered if he had ever slept in anyone's arms before. Jeff was so great to play with this sweet boy and give him some much needed loving touch.
This experience at the orphanage was very eye opening for me. I was impressed by the routine that they had, and the very nice University students who are there with them every day. One of the volunteers told me that the children call the workers "mother" and when they go inside from playtime, they call it "going home". It was nice to know that they have someone to call mother, and they can really call their place home. I think I was expecting the worst, so I was pleasantly surprised. From what I could see, they have most of what they need, but lack the physical attention that every child needs to develop properly. I admire the volunteers that go there regularly, and wish I was in a position to do so. I do, however, look forward to going with Jack and Jane when we can get out there (it's about 40 min. out of the city), and hopefully we can all do some good in our own small way. I will be getting a list of things that the Orphanage is in need of, so if anyone is interested, please let me know.
I couldn't resist sharing this picture because I think it is foreshadowing of Janie's teenage years. I can just hear her saying "Oh, Mom", with this look on her face. Ohhh, what an adventure those years will be, I look forward to them, but can definitely wait.
Overall, this week has been wonderful, especially having Jeff home! We are now packing to move to our new place and we are SO grateful to be done with the moves for at least a couple of years! We also receive our sea shipment on Wednesday. It will be like Christmas all over again!
Hope your Christmas was merry and have a Happy New Year!
Sawat dii pii may!