29 July 2007

A good week.

If you thought last week's post was a little on the "down" side, then you will love this one. We have had a GREAT week full of fun and great news! We've got plenty of pictures, so I will let them do most of the talking!

First thing I loved this week was the rain. I guess we are entering the rainy season now, and if you know me well, you would know that I love the rain. I have fond memories of going puddle splashing as a kid with my mom and the kids on the street, puddle splashing with my friends as teenagers, and puddle splashing with my own Jack at our West Jordan home. Although this rain isn't really rain that I would take my kids splashing in, I still love seeing and watching it because it really is something in Bangkok!

This was taken from our family room balcony. All I could think was, "this must be how Dorothy felt". I've never heard the wind howl like that, heard thunder that loud, or seen rain where you really can't see drops, just sheets. It was awesome.

These were taken shortly after the storm on our soi. They were taken on a moving tuk-tuk, so you'll have to be understanding about the quality. This was someone's long driveway.

If you look closely, you might be able to see where the sidewalk is supposed to start.

My cute kids in a taxi this week. I love these moments.

We had a great play date at Jack's friend Omer's home this week. She has a little sister a little younger than Jane too, so there was a playmate for everyone! This is Orly (Omer's mom), Omer and Jack. At this moment, they were watching Scarlett's puppet show.

Janie showing off Omer's high heels. I think she walks better in high heels than I do!

Our friend, Faa, came over this week with some of her friends from school. Jack was in heaven.

Jack is getting pretty creative with his inventions lately. This comes 100% from his Dad, not me. Jeff can fix just about anything with a wire hanger! This is Jack's bow and arrow he did completely on his own with vacuum attachments and some surgical tubing. I love it.

A new fruit Som introduced me to last week, mangosteen. SO yummy! They melt in your mouth.

We spent Friday night at a farewell dinner for Dave with Jeff's coworkers. It was a perfect first exposure to Japanese food because we could just try a little of everything. I even tried sushi for the first time and loved it! It seems that everyone at Jeff's office is wonderful. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of everyone, but here is one of the tables. Notice how everyone is happy to be in a picture, it's awesome!

This restaurant was great, but not intended for children in the least. Of course, that means that my kids were being as crazy as ever. We went for several walks to get their wiggles out during the meal. This seemed to help some. At least temporarily.

You wouldn't believe how patient everyone was with Jack and Jane if I told you. But, I have to say, that it wasn't only the kids that were making all the noise! They were definitely provoked by fun playmates! They were in heaven with all the attention, and Jeff and I were grateful for people who were so sweet and understanding with them. This is one of the provokers, Sivaphong. He was flying Jack around the restaurant, lifting him up on his shoulders, setting him on tables, and tickling him like crazy.

Chai entertained Jane for a long time by eating her raisins with chopsticks. She thought this was fascinating! Me too, I'm terrible with chopsticks! To everyone at RSTL: you are wonderful!

This is us with Dave, for the last time! We will miss having our fellow Utahn here with us, but we are excited for what lies ahead for him. I can't wait to hear about his adventures as he heads off to Paris!

On Saturday, we watched the Selway kids while Som and Joel went to Chatuchak with their family who was visiting. We went to Ocean World, then headed home for lunch and playtime. We were quite a sight on the train with four children. Here's our four kids in the truck on the way home from the train.

Saturday night we met Heather, Scarlett, and Jim for dinner to celebrate Scarlett's fourth birthday. It was so fun to let the kids play and visit over dinner. Every time I am with this family (three times this week), I leave in awe. They are so sweet and loving and just seem to be full of life. Heather has become such a great friend. I feel so blessed to have her come into my life at a great time, when I am losing so many close friends. I think the Lord knew what I would need at this point. What a blessing.

The birthday girl with her "husband", Jack. They are SO silly together, I love watching it.

Other good news we received at church today. We met a new family that just moved in on the other side of Sukhumvit road, closer than any other members in the ward! They have twin 4 year old boys and a little girl (14 months old), talk about tailored for us! We are excited to get to know them better when they come over tomorrow for Family Home Evening. They are here with the Embassy along with another family we met today, the Kwans. They have two daughters and also live close by. We look forward to having them as well and getting to know more of our Bangkok family. Our cup runneth over.

22 July 2007

More goodbyes

This week has been full of adjustments. Many are just remembering the little things that occur everyday in our Bangkok life, but a major one is having Jack home full time once again. It has been SO nice to have time to recover from our trip and not have to worry about getting Jack off to school by 8am every morning, or remembering what to pack each day. We have been able to sleep in some, or in some cases, go back to bed at about 7:30am after being up at 2:30am. Very fun. On our way to a play area the other day at 11am, Jack said, "Mom, my eyes think it's night time!". Needless to say, we've taken it pretty easy this week.

We enjoyed some time on Friday night with some of our favorite people: the Selway, Strate, and Ungrangsee families. We LOVE having this group over and only wish we could do it more! Unfortunately, the reason for this get-together was to say goodbye. The Strate family is heading back to the USA on Tuesday for good. Shane is done with his research and will return to work on his dissertation. OR, they will postpone that for one year while he teaches at BYU-Hawaii. Not too bad of a situation either way, although I think I would prefer the route that includes the beach.

The Selways are also returning to the USA in just one more month. Joel's research has also come to an end, and in one year's time, we can officially call him Dr. Selway. Very nice. We are extremely sad to see these two families leave, as we have all grown quite attached. They have been a huge part of our Bangkok family. Thank goodness the Ungrangsees will be here for a while. That is what is keeping me sane at the moment!

Here are a few of our favorites from our final night all together (sniff, sniff):

Jack asked me specifically to take this picture of him with Cyrus. These guys are such good buddies. I know Jack will really miss Cyrus's silly sense of humor, and I will really miss him in my nursery class at church. He was one of the children I could always count on to be consistent and stable.
Jeff ordered pizzas for everyone online, something we've done several times. For some reason, this time, one of them showed up with corn on it! Of course, this is as close as I could get Jeff to it, but I really didn't think it tasted all that bad. It's just the idea of it that sounds awful.

Jane loves Shane and Joel. Luckily, they also have little girls and I don't think they mind the added attention. Jane just climbed and sat all over Shane while we were visiting, although she was really playing ball with the other kids. She really just finds someone she likes, and doesn't let them go!

This is Mary Jane with her youngest, Alena (who looks exactly like her dad!). And, she just announced that they are expecting again, so we are thrilled for them. She is super woman, no doubt. I'm so happy that I will still have one of "my girls" here in Bangkok with me still! She has been such a good friend, especially during my first month here. Looking back, she really made that transition to foreign life so much smoother. I love this girl.

We didn't get a group picture before Mary Jane and Bundit left, but these are all the kids, minus the Ungrangsees. Starting from the left: Megan Strate, Jane, Jack, Jake Strate, Cyrus and Cyan Selway. I have fallen in love with this little group. I have loved having them in my home, and have felt so blessed to have good kids for my little ones to look up to.

I was glad to get one last picture with Som and Kaddi. I think our only other official one is when we were wearing motorcycle helmets! I love these girls. It's been so nice to have friends who are in the same boat. They understood the frustrations, the daily trials, and the parenting and family challenges that come along with living abroad. What a blessing they have been in my life.
Today has been an emotional one for me thinking about our friends leaving so soon. The Strate's spoke in church today. As soon as we walked in, Janie saw them on the stand and yelled out, "Jake, Jake!". We could hardly keep her quiet through the meeting. She has loved Jake from the first time we got together with them, and so have I. I watched those kids speak today and was blown away by their composure at 9 and 6 years old. Jake was like a 16 year old, and Meg spoke so knowledgeably with her sweet little lisp. I can only hope Jack and Jane will grow up and be as mature and loving as these two.

Like I said before, this week has been one of adjustments, but I almost think a better word for it would be withdrawal. We are having withdrawals from a crazy schedule, familiar foods and places, and of course, all the family and friends. We love being back, but it was so fun to be together, especially watching Jack and Jane have so many people to love. Two days after we got back, Jack and I were in the play room and he just stopped. He said, "Mom, I really, really miss my Grandma and Grandpa and my other Grandma and Grandpa". All I could say was, "me too". It's not easy living away, but we realize also that there are blessings for making this sacrifice. Although it is always hard to say goodbye to family, this week we have thought of several reasons why we are happy to be back home in Bangkok. Here are just a few:

1. We don't have to worry about coordinating cars. We can do whatever we want, whenever because we can always catch a taxi! So easy!
2. The temperature here is much more comfortable than that dry heat. Wow, that was awful! Jeff and Jack are just barely starting to get normal skin again, and my hair isn't so static-y.
3. Living here requires a much more active lifestyle. We enjoy walking as much as we can. It's just not possible to walk to Wal-mart in Utah!
4. It's generally just a slower pace here because we aren't pulled in so many different directions. Our only focus is our family. The time together is much more direct and there are less distractions. Probably the first time in our married life that it's actually surprising when our phone rings.
5. I love going places and having people be friendly and willing to help. I went to a store yesterday and was looking at bedding. There were THREE employees following me around explaining the sales and fixing everything I put back in the wrong spot (although, I thought I was putting it back right!). That used to be really annoying, but now I enjoy having people there whenever I have a question or need something, rather than having to search isles to get a price check.
6. Of course, the main reason Thailand is so wonderful is because of the people. We get smiles everywhere we go, and everyone acts like my children are the best kids ever. I'm glad they see what I've known all along! The Thai people are very special, and I missed that while we were away.

In a way, I feel like tomorrow will officially start our return back, now that we are over the jet-lag, unpacked, and my knee is doing better. We still haven't started back to the gym and I have yet to detox my body from all the sugar! Tomorrow will be a little rough, but I'm looking forward to it.

One thing that has helped with our family withdrawals has been making this video of our time together. While working on this, I've looked through our pictures several times and watched this countless times with the children. We love whatever helps us feel close. So, as promised... enjoy.

17 July 2007

We are HOME!

We are home, and when I say home, I mean Bangkok. After more than two fun-filled weeks, we are back and completely exhausted. Writing this blog tonight is actually not enticing to me in the least, but I need to do something to keep me awake because I am nodding off and it's barely 8pm! Yes, I've been up since 2:30 with jet-lag affected children. They are doing great, but of course, it's still an adjustment.

Well, I thought I could just give a general overview of our trip and then on Sunday my video of the whole thing should be complete and everyone will get to see more of me and our family than you ever wanted! Lucky for you, we have the most beautiful family ever, if you didn't already know.

Let's talk numbers. We'll start with...

3...three family reunions within two weeks. Wow. I would complain, but like I said, we have amazing families.

5...five days in a Deer Valley condo with the Rich family. And here's another number for you...

10...ten of the 19 people at the condo were 7 and under. It would have felt crazy anywhere else, but this condo was the perfect size for all of us. We could enjoy our time together, and go to our separate rooms if necessary. It was full of quality time together and wonderful memories. I definitely look forward to doing this one again. Here's all 10 Grandkids with Mimi and Papa.

2...two visits to Lagoon within a week, but no complaints here - our kids loved it! We met up with Jeff's work for a Saturday afternoon (which I regret not getting any pictures of), which was actually a double bonus for us because we got to see work friends as well as spend time with the Hillmans. Thanks, Equis, for a great day! The following Wednesday was another Rich family fun day at Lagoon. 10 kids and all. I discovered that both of my children are like their parents: We go on all the crazy rides as long and as many times as we possibly can.

5...I'm a little unsure about this number, but I think it's pretty close to the number of miles I ran up to Bridal Veil Falls. I wasn't prepared to run that far, but I just kept thinking, "it's just around the corner", and I felt great, so why not? It was around mile 5 when I finally got there, and when you are 5 miles away from your car, what can you do but run back? I love running up Provo Canyon. This was definitely a highlight for me. Sorry no picture for this one.

24...twenty-four is a safe guess as to how many times Mom or Dad Hillman took Janie out to swing in their back yard. We spent 8 full days with them, and it had to be at least 3 times a day. She was in heaven, and I'm pretty sure they were enjoying themselves as well. She sure loves her Grandparents!

4...we were lucky enough to visit with all four Grandmas and two Grandpas and loved it. What a treasure it was to be able to see them all within such a short time. Grandparents are such a blessing!

3...three times Janie threw up what little was in her stomach. Luckily, they were all at really convenient times such as a family reunion all over her shirt chosen to match with the entire family. Or, on the carousel horse at Lagoon, or my favorite, in the middle of church. Yes, that was fun. And in case you were wondering, the number three doesn't count the one during our 10 hour flight to Tokyo on the way home for Janie OR Jack. That was an eventful flight.

1...only one visit to the temple, but it was wonderful. There is no place more beautiful or peaceful. We did get to see Temple square where we saw the renovated Tabernacle and Salt Lake Temple. This picture is of us in front of the Jordan River Temple.

This is the inside of the beautiful Tabernacle, newly renovated.

Also, for those of you who have never visited, I couldn't help but include a picture of our Salt Lake Temple as well. This is where Jeff and I were married 6 1/2 years ago. Beautiful. Go here if you want to see more of our temples.

17...Seventeen days with our children, almost non-stop fun. And on top of this, we got to see them enjoy every day with cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandparents. I think Jack and Janie both lost weight on this trip because they didn't want to stop to eat. They were just too excited! I'm sure the throwing up didn't help either. Luckily, I'm boring enough that I'm sure they'll quickly gain back whatever they may have lost!

28...twenty-eight hours of travel to get back home to Bangkok. Also, all three flights were delayed! On a happy note, because of one of these delays, Jack got a great picture in the cockpit and had a great chat with the pilot. I thought a few of you might like this one, especially the pilots in the family.

Other highlights of our trip include, swimming with both sides of the family, barbecues, visiting our old ward, Jeff spending an evening "fixing stuff" with his brother, the children's exhibit at the Church History museum, and lots of visiting time with family. What a wonderful trip. As much as we did, of course, we wanted more, more! We would have loved to sit down and have dinner with friends from the neighborhood, or Jeff's office, or finally make it to a get together with some of my old High School friends. We would have loved to see all the new babies, hear about all those arriving, what everyone is up to, how life is going, etc. I felt like even when I did get to see some friends for a short period, all I did was talk about me! How boring. I would have loved to hear more about life in Utah! So, please feel free to email me and fill me in. There's just never enough time!

And if anyone was wondering if our camera stopped acting up, as I called it during my last post, yes. Our camera stopped doing a lot of things that day, so now we are the proud owners of a new Canon that is fantastic. Although it was an unexpected expense, we are choosing to see the glass as "half full" and enjoy having the new technology!

Stay tuned for the video of our family activities from our trip, coming up! Same Hillman time, same Hillman channel.

02 July 2007

It takes HOW LONG?

Busy, busy week and fun, fun, fun! We are NOW in Utah with our families and it is oh, so nice! We spent the early part of the week doing fairly normal stuff and in between we were packing like crazy!

Here is Jane on her last day of swim class. This face pretty much describes how she is all the time when we swim. She LOVES it and is doing so well! I can't wait for the fall!

The day before we left was of course, the craziest. Jack didn't have school because it was parent/teacher conferences. This is him with his teachers, Gilly and Nat. He's also showing off his rocket he made with legos while we were visiting. What a cool kid.

With no school that day, we decided to get together with Jack's friends at the Paragon. We went bowling, which of course the kids loved. Although every chance these boys got, they were wrestling and practicing their Tae Kwon Do moves on each other. They all took their turns conquering and retreating, but overall had a GREAT time being rough and tough boys. Even in the bowling ally.

We went to a play area and then finished off at Swenson's for some ice cream! From the left: Graham (Dylan's Dad), Dylan, Heather (Scarlett's Mom), Scarlett, Jack, Oliver, Me, and Jane. After 8 dripping bowls of ice cream and one broken glass, I'm sure everyone was ready for us to get out of that crowded shop!

It was nice to have a fun day right before we left because the kids were completely worn out. I had them asleep by 6pm! And it was a good thing because our taxis were there to pick us up for the airport at 3:45 the next morning.

This is us checking our bags in at the airport. We were quite the entourage.

The kids were in amazingly good spirits at about 4:30am when we were going through the many lines and filling out the appropriate paperwork. Jane loved dangling on the divider poles, and Jack loved rearranging them. Sometimes I feel like we are a circus wherever we go!

The first leg of our flight was to Tokyo, about a 6 hour flight. Don't let this picture fool you, they only slept for an hour on this plane, but were generally happy to be there.

Our second flight was about 9 hours to San Francisco. It was a LONG flight, but we were amazed at how well the kids did. They were cooperative and happy. We walked laps around the plane, watched movies, loaded (and unloaded) pez dispensers, played with playdough, colored, and the kids slept for about 4 hours. The hard part was that they slept in our arms, so Jeff and I got NO sleep the whole leg! But, we watched more movies on this plane than we've seen in months, so that was kind of fun! Plus, how often do I get to hold one of my sleeping babies? I was exhausted, but I loved every minute of it.

We had our longest wait in San Francisco, about 4 hours. As you can see, the kids were doing pretty well. Janie was yelling "giddy-up!" and Jack was a perfect horse. It was at about this time that I started feeling dizzy from fatique. Luckily, a family from our ward was also traveling on our same flights, so we got to visit with them. Their youngest son, Noah, played with the kids almost the whole time. They saved us!

The flight to SLC from San Francisco was a little rough because we were all so exhausted and it was delayed, but after about 26 hours of traveling, we made it! It was so wonderful to be back in the USA and be greeted by both sets of parents. What a treat!

We've enjoyed fun-filled days since we got home, but are still really struggling with jet-lag, although it hasn't been nearly as bad as we had anticipated. This picture is a great example of how we've all felt since we arrived. Either sleeping or wanting to sleep, although sometimes our bodies won't even let us when we can! I read somewhere that you should allow the same number of days to recover, for as many hours time difference you change. We changed 13 hours. We're only here for 16 days. Hmmm... Let's hope that's not accurate.

We enjoyed visiting with my Grandma Rich on Friday afternoon. She's 96 and still doing amazingly well! I was really looking forward to seeing my Grandma. After Jack was born, I lived close enough to her to visit once a week. She saw Jack grow up more than almost anyone, so she definitely holds a special place in our hearts.

It was during our visit with Grandma, that we realized Christian and Jane have a special thing going. They play so cute together. It's hard to know who's enjoying themselves more.

Friday night, we got together with Jason and Heidi, as well as Jason and Jeff's childhood best friend, Jeff and his family. It was a lot of fun to visit, eat, and play at our favorite park!

Janie was so funny when she saw Jason for the first time, which was the night we arrived. We kept thinking she was confusing him with Jeff, and tried to tell her and point out who Daddy really was, but she didn't seem to mind. She just kept on going to Jason, just as much as Jeff, and occasionally calling him Daddy too! She's acted quite pleased to have two Daddys to take care of her. It will be fun to see if she keeps this up.

We've enjoyed a Hillman reunion, lots of cousin time, a wedding reception, going to church with my parents, meeting my little brother's new friend (woo-woo!), and a nice, relaxing Sabbath Day. We took more pictures, but they were either fuzzy, or it was after our camera started acting up. We are taking it in tomorrow, so wish us better luck than we had with our computer!

Loves from the USA!