24 June 2007

Wrapping things up

It has been so nice to be healthy, finally! So, this week, we were out and about every day, just because we could. But, our biggest day, by far, was Friday. But first, I thought I would share a couple photos from last week.

This is Janie with her first day of rash. It only got worse from here on out. It was all over her face, back, tummy, legs, and arms. Her rash stayed longer, but I really think mine looked worse. I don't have the "cuteness" factor that Jane does that allows her to get away with almost anything. Rash on Jane? "Oh, poor little thing!". Rash on me? "What the heck is that?". Love handles on Jane? "Cute, I love the chub!" Love handles on me? Um.... not so cute.

I think her legs were one of the worse parts. Luckily, this looks a lot worse than it felt.

This is what Jack and Jeff did while I was sick in bed last week. I don't know which of my boys enjoyed it more.

This is the airplane they made, and it actually flew pretty well! It's amazing what these guys can do with an empty cereal box!

Friday was a day of fun, starting with Jack, Jane, and me ALL going to Jack's school for a special "moving up" ceremony. Jane was loving that she got to be there with all the big kids, and Jack was loving the BIG bouncy castle! This is him with three of his classmates (not that you can see them very well!): Ori, Omer, and Scarlett. They were having WAY too much fun to pose for a picture.

After some fun on the playground, there was a short program where each of the classes got up and performed. Jack's class sang two silly songs, one with Scarlett's Dad playing the guitar. Jack was loving being up on stage, and was doing a great job of getting the actions right on cue. I was a glowing parent in the audience, of course, and Janie watched with admiration until she couldn't resist anymore and had to run up to the stage to participate as well. Luckily, with the "cuteness" factor in full effect, everyone just smiled and thought she was great, as did I.

This is Jack sitting with his class before they performed. Attempting to start from the front left (and curving around): Taj, Jack, Omer, Oliver (mouth open), Vegas with Teacher Nat, Dylan (can't see his face), Jennifer, Ori, and Scarlett. They are quite a diverse group, but they always seem to get along really well.

After the performances, of course they have to honor the graduates and the "moving ups", so this is Jack holding up his certificate when they called his name. It's a terrible picture, but I thought he was so cute, nonetheless. You can see his other teacher, Gilly, clapping in the background.

We enjoyed our morning at the school visiting, playing, and eating. Yes, this is him with cotton candy at 10am! He was hesitant to take this picture with Teacher Nat until we assured him she wasn't after his cotton candy. He was still pretty distracted, thank goodness Nat understands four-year-olds!
And this is Jane enjoying the festivities! It was so nice to be in an environment for families. Jane could run and play and I knew it was safe, clean, and no one was getting huffy about her doing as she pleased!
After the big day at school, we headed over to Scarlett's home with her parents, as well as Dylan and Oliver with Dylan's Dad, Graham (he's a stay-at-home Dad). Heather and Jim have a home with a backyard, so we set up the pool, stripped the kids down (none of them had bathing suits!), and let them play. At this particular moment, Scarlett and Oliver were playing inside, but these three sure were having a good time. I got to visit, eat lunch, and have a "cup of tea" (since I don't drink tea, it means I get to sit and enjoy while they have a cup of tea!), with Heather, Jim, and Graham, and have adult conversation. It was awesome. These three are so wonderful, I felt very grateful to have friends who value family like I do. I'm sure I have a lot to learn from these wonderful Brits!

We got home from Jim and Heather's just in time for Janie to take a short nap, then we were off again! We spent the afternoon with Cyan, Cyrus, and Narissa. We met at a play land in the Paragon that we recently discovered. It was HUGE, almost too big, but the kids had a great time playing. I got this picture of Jack as we were waiting for Narissa's food at Burger King. Jack is holding one of his favorite foods, "muu bing", which is essentially grilled pork on a stick. He eats 2-3 of these in a flash! Luckily, you can get these almost anywhere, so it's a great food to get "on the go", which we do quite a bit here.

Saturday afternoon was a big time for Jack because it was the first birthday party in his class he could actually attend! He's been invited to four, and has had to miss them all! So, he was especially excited about this "slay the dragon" party for Ori. I was happy to see there were many parents there who stayed to enjoy each other's company and help with the games. And it was a good thing too, because I counted 25 children at one point! The group in this picture was just a small portion of who was there by the end! Besides the kids from Jack's class, there must have been the entire Israeli community of Bangkok (that's where Ori's family is from). It seems like there's a pretty tight-knit group, which I think is fantastic!

The whole party was very well planned out, but with the rain outside, Shira (Ori's Mom), had to make some adjustments. With all those people in this small building, it got to be quite hectic. If you can spot the birthday boy, Ori, in the Orange stripes, you will see how he was for about half the party. Shouldn't the birthday boy be smiling? It was kind of sad, but overall, I'm sure he had a good time, I know my kids did! I was amazed at how Shira kept her cool through the whole thing! Jack loved playing musical chairs, but it is sure hard to explain when he got "out"!

This is what Janie loved about the party. Yummy food that was right at her height. I had to work pretty hard to keep her away from all those cookies! You'd think after two hours, she'd lose interest. Nope!

Well, there you go. A couple of crazy days, lots of pictures, and even with all that fun, really, all we can think about is our trip HOME! I wrote a list, in no particular order (besides the first one), of some of the things we are excited for in Utah. Many will seem silly, but you'd be amazed at the things you miss when you are far away!

1. Family and friends (of course, the whole reason we are going!).
2. Breathing clean air, very deeply.
3. Running on the Jordan River and Provo Parkway trails.
4. Jeff being off work (yay!).
5. Red Vines, lots and lots.
6. Good Watermelon, it's just not the same here for some reason.
7. Car seats (although it will be super hard to convince Janie of this).
8. The mountains.
9. Cool mornings.
10. Normal grass.
11. Cars stopping when I want to cross the road.
12. Mexican food.
13. Shopping at places that make clothes for people taller than 5'2".
14. Nice sidewalks.
15. TJ Max, Gap, and Old Navy.
16. 4th of July.
17. Finding shoes that fit a size 10!
18. Backyards.
19. Safe playgrounds.
20. English, English, English.
21. Using a debit card, almost anywhere.
22. Less traffic.
23. IKEA, all my kid spoons have disappeared!
24. Good diapers.
25. Not having to shove my way onto an elevator or train with two kids in tow.
26. Sitting in the front seat of a car.

Jeff's addition: Macaroni and Cheese.

3 more days and we are on our way! Please pray that the flights go well and that our kids will take long, long naps! We love, love, love you all.

17 June 2007


Once again, I get to enjoy having an excuse to share about people that I love. Today isn't actually Father's Day in Thailand, they celebrate it on December 5th, the King's Birthday, but I thought since both of my fathers are in America, we could still celebrate Father's day the American way!

Can I start with the Dad that I've known for the least amount of time? It's funny to think of how different Dad Hillman is from my own Dad, yet they are both so exceptional. One memory I have of Dad Hillman is from before Jeff and I were married. We came home from Ricks for Christmas break, and for some reason ended up both staying at the Hillman's home the night before Christmas Eve (of course, down the hallway from each other, because the wedding wasn't for 5 more days!). I hadn't been feeling well, yet we couldn't pinpoint what it was, so I took some pain killers and we all went to bed. I was in so much pain that night that I couldn't even lay down. After a few hours, I finally went and got Jeff up. Neither of us knowing what to do (we were young and dumb, adjectives I still use to describe us some days), we woke Dad up. He immediately came down in his robe to evaluate the problem. He and Jeff gave me a blessing which brought some much needed comfort. After much deliberation, we decided to head to the ER to figure this thing out. So, at about 3am, we all headed out to the hospital only to find out I had Pluresy, a very painful infection of the lungs. It was awful, but I remember Dad being there for Jeff and I as we (remember, young and dumb) went through our first physical trial of our relationship. After the hospital, we dropped Jeff off for some reason and Dad and I drove around town trying to find an open pharmacy. It was at that moment that I felt genuine love for him. He'd been up late, only gotten a few hours of sleep, sat in a waiting room all morning, and was now driving around town for someone that wasn't even family yet. I'm sure he had many church meetings that day (yes, this was also a Sunday, not to mention, Christmas Eve and 4 days before the wedding), maybe even had to speak, yet he was doing everything he could to get me what I needed and keep me giggling and happy. I loved him for this. This was above and beyond welcoming me into the family.

6 1/2 years later, Dad continues to love and sacrifice for us. He has taken days off work to help Jeff fix the car, tutored me in my Statistics class, raked thousands of rocks out of our yard, moved us four different times, designed his yard and basement for his grandchildren's enjoyment, told countless of his famous stories to Jack, and been a constant example of love and acceptance. We continue to feel his love in Bangkok as we receive stories he's recorded especially for the kids, IM regularly, and love his silly effects when we visit on skype (always a highlight). Dad is sensitive, honest and hardworking, all traits he has passed onto his children that have made them into who they are now. I couldn't ask for more.

Looking back on my blog so far, I realize I have said very little about my Dad. This surprised me very much because he is, and always has been, a huge part of my life. As far back as I can remember, I have always valued my dad's approval, advice, and support. As a little girl, the worst thing in the world was getting the disapproving look from Dad when I had done something naughty. It didn't happen often because I was a good girl, and my Dad was extremely patient, especially for having three daughters in their teens all at the same time. Wow! How he did that one, I almost hope to never know.

My Dad was always very busy. On top of normal work hours, he had very demanding church callings which pulled him away from home for most of my growing up years on Sundays and Tuesday nights. But, when he was home, he certainly made the best of it, and I like to think I took every opportunity to be with him. I always thought my sisters were crazy if they passed up their turn to go to a BYU ball game with Dad. Who wouldn't want him all to herself? Even if it meant sitting for 4 hours on uncomfortable bleachers, when all you really were enjoying on the field (at that age) was the halftime show. It was worth it. It was also worth it to get up in the wee hours of the morning to go fishing at Payson lakes. Early morning runs (had to be back before 6:30am Scriptures), late night Christmas shopping, delivering things to neighbors, suit shopping, working in the yard, or going to an extra Sacrament meeting to hear him speak. Not things I would have chosen to do for fun, but because it was with Dad, it was great. Looking back, I'm sure there are things Dad did, not because it was something he necessarily enjoyed, but because he loved us. Funny thing is, I can't think of that many because Dad always really seemed genuinely excited to attend every Jr. Jazz game, fiddle contest (which he was also playing his guitar at as well), Young Women's program, concert or violin recital. He was in the audience, always smiling and happy as could be, with plenty of questions and compliments afterward. He loved to be involved in the things we were doing every day. He wanted to know how school went each day, all about our assignments, friends, activities, etc. My sisters and I always felt very comfortable talking about who our latest crush was, if we got to see him that day, etc. (all that silly stuff that means everything to a teenager!). Although, we knew we always needed to word things carefully with Dad, so his protective Father instincts didn't jump to conclusions. Several times, my mom and Sisters would be talking in one room, and Dad would be in another room. Dad, being 100% deaf in one ear, could rarely hear us calling him to answer a question, help with this, or come get the phone, etc. But, the moment we said _________(insert name of latest crush from any or all three daughters), or "kiss", "date", or anything up this ally, he would come running! As uncomfortable as it must have been to hear us talk about these silly boys, he wanted to know the latest news, and I'm sure, who the biggest threat was.

I will never forget the time I came to visit from college, but got in late because I had been out with Jeff for one of the first times. Dad came in to wake me up and wanted to know how my date had gone. I remember having had a perfect evening with Jeff and all I could tell Dad was, "he's so amazing, he's just perfect". I could see the look of fear in his eyes as I described how wonderful this "mystery boy" was. I was so grateful at that point that Dad listened and smiled and acted excited to meet him. I'm sure that's not a fun moment for a Father to hear his baby girl describe someone "perfect" at such a young age, but I think most fear subsided as soon as he met his future son-in-law, who he would now admit really is as wonderful as I described.

Because I love my Dad, I will not tell the "little piece of sheet" story, but just know that when a man is as "straight arrow" (as the Hillmans accurately call him) as my Dad, it's pretty funny when you are reminded that he is also human. One of his favorite things, when the family gets together, is to take everyone out to dinner. I think this is funny (although I'm not complaining), because I know Dad would be just as happy going to RC Willey for their free hotdogs, like we did a LOT growing up. Also, while we are at the restaurant, he will encourage everyone to get drinks, yet he never orders anything but water, his favorite. He loves, like the rest of the family, to find a deal. You will find him every year, day after Thanksgiving, 5am, standing in line somewhere to get something GREAT, for dirt cheap. He's awesome. Something else that might surprise you, he plays/sings a fantastic version of San Francisco Bay Blues, with a pretty mean kazoo. Yes, you read that right, kazoo.

There really is nothing that can replace the relationship between father and daughter. This is THE reason I was initially so excited to have a girl. I wanted Jeff to experience that special relationship too. I look up to my Dad like no one else. He is someone I saw every day who lived what he taught. He was an example of love, service, hard work, dedication, forgiveness, patience, and most of all, integrity. My dad is as honest as they come. He does what is right, no matter the situation. He values what is really important in life. His favorite thing is his family. He loves to be with each one, individually or all together, as crazy as it may be. He loves to sit and play with all the grandkids, read them books, and take them to the park, but I do think that he has a special spot in his heart for the granddaughters. Seeing him with Jane makes me feel like I'm seeing him with me and my sisters as babies. He would hold her forever. He is someone who always has open arms, and he loves to fill them. There's nothing like a big hug from dad when coming home to visit. I treasure the love that I feel for Him. I love visiting with him still, and admit that I get a lump in my throat every time I hear his voice after it's been a little while. I've lost count of my tears tonight from writing this, after not seeing him for almost eight months. It's time to go home. I love you Dad.

I feel like I am constantly talking about Jeff. Even when I'm talking about my Dads, I am talking about how amazing Jeff is. The truth is, it's true. Jeff was my "perfect boy" when we met, and he continues to just keep getting better. How does that happen? When something is this good, I don't like to ask questions. Since Jeff has become a Father, I've seen a whole new side of him. I could go on and on, but I thought if I just gave you a small description of our week, you would get the idea.

Sunday night, I started to get sick. Monday morning, since I hadn't slept all night, I went to the gym and had a great workout (not smart). I came home and crashed for two days. Jeff took two days off work to play Mr. Mom, and he really did. He took care of all of us, especially since Jack couldn't go back to school yet because he still had this mysterious rash. Jeff kept the kids busy with books, looney toons on the computer (which they LOVED), he and Jack built airplanes and car jumps out of cereal boxes, and he took Jane to her swimming lesson. All the while, I hardly knew what was happening, I was so consumed with fever and fatigue. It was heaven to know that everything was taken care of. The kids were well-rested, fed, and having the time of their lives. Jeff held it all together. Even when the kids were asleep, he was taking care of me, getting me my medicine, helping me get comfortable and sleeping with no A/C (a big sacrifice for anyone!). Janie started in with the rash and fever Tuesday, which didn't surprise us at all. What did surprise us was when I started with the rash Wednesday night! Despite the rash, my fever broke Tuesday night, so Jeff was able to go to work Wed-Fri but had to stay late, missing the kids two out of the three nights, which is always disappointing for him. He went for a hard run Saturday morning, yet still spent the day with the kids so I could hit Chatuchak market for some things we needed, something I've been putting off for weeks now. Plus, after being in the house all week (really, we couldn't leave looking the way we did), I was dying to get out! He was exhausted from his run and a day with the kids, but chose to spend his night out visiting with the missionaries. He went above and beyond this week, but that's not really that unusual. That's just Jeff. He's the ultimate husband, and four years ago, he became the ultimate Dad. Some days, I have to pinch myself.

I had the shock of my life at the market on Saturday when I heard a little taste of "home", in the form of a banjo and mandolin. I couldn't stop smiling at these happy Thai men who were playing their little hearts out, and doing a good job of it. I really just wanted to kiss them both for playing such familiar music. I could have stood there all day, but knew I needed to get home. I took this video to prove it to Jeff, I was sure he wouldn't believe me. So, for the men in my life, who all happen to like bluegrass music... enjoy.

10 June 2007

Cough drops, please!

Our week started with Jack coughing. Yes, always a fun thing. He was coughing and coughing, but there were no other symptoms. He very willingly told me about his friend, Dylan, who had a cough last week and had a little box of cough drops in his pocket. So, I sent him off to school with a pocketful of cough drops, and he was glad to go! Tuesday and Wednesday were the same story, more coughs and more cough drops. By Wednesday night, he actually said in his prayers, “please bless me that my coughs won't go away... I like cough drops”.

It seems like whenever my kids have a little sniffle or cough, people here always assume I've taken them to the doctor already, but I wasn't raised in a home where we went to the doctor for every little thing. I remember my mom letting me make the decision, which now I realize was a smart thing for her to do. I felt like a wimp if I chose to go, especially if there wasn't really anything wrong, so I rarely chose to go unless it was something big. Of course, this is how I remember it, my mother may have a completely different story. My mom was a woman of action though, so it took a lot to slow her (or her kids) down. I remember a day in elementary school (3rd grade) where I threw up all over my math book. It was near the end of school, so I finished out the day. But, my mom did pick me up. She picked me up, changed my shirt, and drove me right to my violin lesson on the other side of town. Very little got in the way of lessons or practicing, a fact I am now very grateful for. So, why am I writing about this? It's because it is instances like these that always make it painfully hard for me to make the decision about if doctor's visit is necessary, or if school is out of the question. Wednesday night, I prayed that I would have a clear cut answer in the morning. School? Doctor? More cough drops?

Jack woke up early Thursday morning with a very high fever, so there was my answer. I kept him home from school, but once the fever was under control, I didn't feel it was necessary to take him to the Doctor. Then, the dilemma comes, how do I make staying home sick endurable, but not so much fun that he doesn't want to go back to school? I rarely wanted to stay home sick, as a kid, because I knew after school my friends would be over wanting to play and in the Rich family, when you stayed home sick, you stayed home. Jack doesn't have friends beating down our door here, we have to go out and find our fun, so there goes that incentive to be healthy. Jeff took the day off so I could still get my stuff done with Jane and he and Jack could spend some time doing “not fun” stuff together (although, that doesn't really happen when Jeff and Jack are together). I enjoyed the extra time with Jeff, Janie loved having more time with Jack, and Jack had a nice, long nap. Jack felt somewhat better on Friday, so he convinced me he could go to school (I was happy it wasn't the other way around). I sent him off, and he had a great day, returning completely exhausted! Janie was also exhausted from our playgroup experience we had Friday morning, which is a story in and of itself (lots of toys, songs, snacks, stories, but a little overwhelming; I thought the “baby yoga” bit was a little over the top!). So, Jack slept, played, watched movies, etc. Saturday, we at least got him out of the house for a couple of hours, but he slept and listened to his Curious George books over and over again (those are the best!). We were sure he was getting better, but Sunday morning rolls around, and Jeff comes in and says “I think Jack has chickenpox”. So fun. Jack didn't have chickenpox, but he certainly had a rash all over his body, and knowing that there was a case of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease going around, we decided he needed to go to the doctor, finally. We sent Jeff and Janie off to Stake Conference, and Jack and I headed to Samitivej Hospital (just 1 km from home), hoping to meet them at church later. The hospitals here are wonderful. Of course, I am partial to this one because of how they helped me during my Thanksgiving day drama (it's all in the blog, if you are interested). We had a nice, quick visit with a wonderful doctor only to find out that his rash is just a rash, but she thinks it's probably still contagious. Yuck. I laughed as the doctor recommended keeping Janie away from him (how do you do that?), but followed her recommendation that we not go to church. So, Jack and I killed a little more time at the hospital, knowing it was our only outing of the day. I even tried to talk Jack into walking back, telling him it was just as close as the train station is to our home (which he walks every day). I said, “It's so nice out, it will be fun to walk and see everything outside”. He said, “I want to SEE the inside of the taxi, Mom!”. So, that was that.

So, Jack and I spent all morning having our own Sunday school at home, and had a great time together. As much as I hate for everyday life to be interrupted by sickness, I have to admit, there are so many things I love about my kids being sick. I love that Jack is so grateful for every little thing. He is usually really good to say, “thank you” and “I love you”. But, when he's sick he says things like, “Mom, thank you for taking care of me”, “Mom, you are the best mom ever”, or “Mom, I like being with you”. He is even more cuddly, which occasionally leads to some wrestling between my two turbo-cuddlers, but of course, I'm not complaining. As I was taking care of him during his roughest night, Thursday, I was remembering some tender moments I have of my mom caring for me when I was sick. I remember her rubbing my feet with lotion and putting socks on to warm me up. I remember her drawing me a bath, tucking me in with extra blankets, washing my hair, putting a cool rag on my neck or forehead. Being the third of four children, she couldn't sit with me constantly, but I always knew she was there, and she always knew what I needed before I did. I love doing these kinds of things for my sick boy. These kinds of moments remind me that no job is more important than being a mother. How would things be if everyone had a mother to care for them? Sickness interrupts life, no doubt, but I think the change of routine is sometimes what it takes to make me sit down and really enjoy. So, now I've gotten all sentimental, but since becoming a mother, so much more is sentimental! I'm sure every mother can relate, and those who aren't mothers yet, you have so many wonderful things that lay ahead!

Besides the “sick” part of my week, I have a few other highlights. Here are my top five:

5. Eating lots and lots of mangoes, pineapple, and pomelo, as always.

4. Jeff having a really productive week at work, even when taking a sick day on Thursday. Nice!

3. At Janie's swim lesson this week, I met a really nice Indian woman who grew up here who was making up a lesson with her daughter. She was as shocked as I was to discover that we were the same age (which doesn't usually happen here for either of us. Most moms we meet with kids the same ages as ours are usually at least 10 years older). People are always shocked when they find out I have TWO children, have been married for 6 years, and am only 27. It's pretty unusual over here, and looking back, it sounds pretty crazy to me too, but it is definitely how it was supposed to happen! She was darling and we are hoping we can get together sometime soon.

2. Getting the email that my parents and Vanessa bought their tickets to visit us in Bangkok in November! Yay! I can't believe it's really going to happen, so now we've just got to narrow down the million things there are to do here and figure out what will fit the agenda best! How do you cram Thailand into just 2 short weeks? Not possible, but we will definitely give it a try!

And the #1 thing about my week happened last night. As I mentioned earlier, it is our Stake conference this weekend, where all the wards/branches in the Bangkok area come together and hear from our local leaders in different meetings throughout the weekend. Jeff attended the Priesthood meeting Saturday afternoon and got home in time for me to head out to the adult session at 6:30. I slipped in a few minutes late, grabbed a headset, and sat as close to the front as possible. It is new for me to go to a church meeting and not be able to talk to many people, or even understand most of what is being said, and as much as all that is true, it was still one of my favorite meetings ever. I walked in as a small choir was singing a simple hymn and I was so touched by the enthusiasm of the sweet conductor. She was smiling and energetic, and as she led the opening hymn, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I sat there, the only one nearby singing in English, and was so touched by these sweet people. What a diverse bunch we were. From my seat, I could see people from Thailand, USA, Canada, Philippines, India, and Vietnam. I loved looking around and noting the many differences, yet knowing that we were all united in our beliefs. As the speakers began, I put on my headset to listen to the translator only to hear a familiar voice, my cousin Rikker. It was so fun to see him up there translating a good portion of the meeting into English for several of us. What a blessing to simply see a familiar face. It was a wonderful meeting focused on education, getting out of debt, and starting food storage, something that's almost unheard of here. As crummy and tired as I felt, it was energizing to be around these wonderful people and feel of their sweet spirit. I know there are exceptional congregations all over the world, but I realized at this point that it is moments like that that I will miss the most. I can only hope that I am getting everything I can out of this experience in Thailand. Every day feels like a blessing, even the hard ones!

03 June 2007

New Places...

We've been finding that since we have now been here for a while, we always end up going to the same places and doing the same things. So, the last couple of weeks, we decided to try to find some new places and activities that are family friendly. This is extremely challenging in some ways, but in other ways, Thailand is an awesome place for a family. It's finding the balance, like always.

Last week, I went to an amazing market and saw an advertisement for a new place just off of one of the MRT (Subway) stops. So, I thought, we could try it out. Anything just off of a train stop already gets points because we know we won't have to fight the traffic to get there. So nice! It did end up being a nice, new place with a bowling ally, lots of places to eat and shop, a movie theatre, and our favorite, an ice skating rink! We would have been crazy to try and ice skate, just our family (I can't skate plus hold Jane, Jack, and Jeff all at once!), but it was fun to go in and remember what the cold feels like. The tables surrounding the rink were made of ice! “Cool?” as Janie says. Jack wants to go back when he's five to try skating, and I think I'll challenge Jeff to try it too. Any words of encouragement for him would be greatly appreciated!

This is Janie doing one of my favorite signs... cold. You can't really get the full effect of her intensity, but I think you can at least see that she is hilarious.

We were surprised when we noticed that we were some of the only Farangs there! By the time we left, I think we saw one group of teenage boys who were probably American, but everyone else was Thai. We always like places that are a little off the beaten tourist path like this. This was a fun place, but we weren't in the shopping mood, and there was no place for kids to play, so we didn't stay long. But, it's nice to know it's there!

Here's half of us at the Mexican restaurant we found last weekend. Janie is such a poser lately, and don't you love Jeff's cheesy grin to match?

So, I thought the kids were just too cute in their Sunday clothes last week. Aren't they just the cutest pair ever?

Janie loves her swimming class! This is her waiting to get in the water. She has a few little friends she looks forward to seeing every week. We even met a nice family last week, the mother is Thai and the father is from L.A. They were great, and I think we are going to get together with them for lunch on Tuesday. It is SO nice sometimes to talk with someone who speaks “American”. Don't get me wrong, I love talking to people from everywhere, I prefer it in many cases, but sometimes I will go all week without talking to someone who's first language is English, besides Jeff, of course! Anyway, Janie is doing so well, and it is so fun to see her warm up to her teacher, who loves her. What a fun time together for both of us!

Janie is super silly lately.

Wow, lots of Jane pictures this week, lucky you! Here's Jane doing what we do twice a day while we wait for Jack's bus to pick up and drop off. This is a big fish pond in our lobby downstairs. She loves to watch them and all the staff here get such a kick out of her. They always crowd around and hold her, afraid she will fall in, even when she isn't even close. Am I just WAY too laid back, or is it that I know my kid's limits? Thais are way more worried about my kids than I am sometimes. I don't quite know what to think of that.

I just thought she looked really grown up in this picture, like she's starting to lose her baby fat. I know it has to go sometime, but I will miss those cheeks!

Thursday was a holiday in Thailand, so we decided to also take Friday off and play all weekend long. In the spirit of wanting to discover new places, we found a new place in our Bangkok book that looked promising. We had to take a taxi to get there, but quickly realized it was worth it! It was a HUGE mall (It's actually called, “the Mall”) with all kinds of affordable shopping, great Thai food and desserts, and a huge play place for the kids, next to a water park on the roof! It was perfect!

Outside of the play place, there was lots of “rides” that the kids could play on. Jack decided to use his coin to go on the big motorcycle. It was like an area for bumper cars, but it was right by where people are walking by and shopping! Luckily, they went really slowly, but it was still hard to keep him in the right area. He thought this was pretty cool.

This waterfall area surrounds a huge floor of Thai food and goodies. Wow, they know how to do sweets here. There were so many good things to see, and so many I've never seen before! It was never ending. I thought this waterfall was beautiful, and from what I could tell, all the plants were real. Pretty impressive.

We didn't have time to see everything, so we decided to come back the next day to try Fantasia Lagoon, the small waterpark on the roof. It was anything but crowded when we got there, and it is probably because Thais know how to predict weather much better than us newcomers! It rained almost immediately after we got our suits on! But, that didn't stop us. The kids didn't really even notice, and it let up after about 20 minutes. Luckily, the rain here is still really warm!

They make everyone wear swim caps, so we were looking like hot stuff! Janie was in heaven with her floaty ring, I was amazed at how quickly she caught on to using it!

Here's one of Jeff, if you haven't seen enough of his famous faces. Yes, he's hot stuff, especially in the handsome cap!

Jack was enjoying himself so much, he wasn't very happy when I said it was time to go. I felt bad because he found the only English speaking kids in the park right before we had to go. But, he did have a good time with a BIG Thai kid we found that loved the big water slides almost as much as Jack! He was so fun and it was fun for me to attempt a conversation with him in Thai! We really liked this place and plan on going back sometime soon. It's nice to have another place to add to our collection of kid-friendly destinations.

On the way to “the Mall” Jack was entertaining us with his new favorite song from school, The Grand Old Duke of York. He came home singing it one day with a little drum around his neck and was so excited. I don't know all the words to this song, but I'm fairly certain that “na na na” was Jack's special adaptation. I love it.