30 September 2007

Koh Kret

Yesterday, we went with Anutra and her family to a tiny island, Koh Kret, just 20 km from Bangkok. I've been wanting to visit this place since we moved here, and after 11 months, we finally made it! We drove there with Anutra, Bird, Faa, Oam, Ian, and her nephew, who's name I can't remember (I'm terrible with names here, it's really quite embarrassing), all in their little pick-up. People sure know how to make things work here!

This is Faa, Jane and I on the boat that takes us across the Chao Phraya River so we can actually get to the island. It cost 2 baht/person and took about 3 minutes.

This is what the boat actually looked like. They had several running people across the river all day. They just really have good systems for things here. It seems like everyone just happens to know how things work here, so signs are unnecessary. OR could it be that there are signs, and I'm just so used to ignoring them, I don't notice anymore? For instance, Jeff and I were watching a movie on TV some time ago. All of a sudden we noticed they were speaking a different language, but we had no idea what they were saying because we are so used to ignoring the Thai subtitles that we didn't even notice, until it was too late, that there were English subtitles for that part of the film. Very nice. Sorry, kind of a side note.

First things first, ice cream! we stopped at the first coconut milk ice cream guy we passed (we probably saw 10 after this) and loaded up. He put the ice cream in bowls made out of banana leaves and then garnished it with a flower. I even got mine with blue sticky rice in the bottom. Delicious!

We walked along this market looking at all the food and handicrafts. I took this picture standing next to this man who was selling magic tricks. Really, if you pay him 20 baht, he'll teach you how he does his tricks. I thought this was awesome, and really, his magic was impressive! So, I paid him 20 baht, he took me to the side and showed me the trick, it was great, at least what I could understand! I left feeling like he was the best business man in the world. I paid 20 baht (which you could almost buy lunch with) and left with a pair of Popsicle sticks! It was fun though, and now Jack thinks I'm amazing! This picture was taken on our way out, just when it was really starting to get hot and busy. One thing we love about Anutra is that she loves to start early!

It was tough getting Jack to leave this spot! These tubs were filled with... can you guess? Starting on the left with the green one: small catfish, some kind of water snakes, tiny turtles, (pink tub) toads, and then snails. They were up for purchase, but we were glad Jack didn't know that. It was sad to see them in such small containers, especially the toads all piled up on top of each other in a bag and barely able to move. But, it was quite the sight for a curious little boy, no doubt.

These are the turtles a little closer. If I had to leave with something, this would have been it. They seem pretty innocent and really are quite cute. But, since I can barely keep my plants alive, I think I'd feel guilty adding one more thing I need to feed and water!

Jack is always asking for things wherever we go, and it doesn't help that there are people trying to sell things everywhere here. So, he has started to earn his own Baht which he can use if he wants something (this way, when he asks for something, I say, "did you bring your Baht?". He then gets really excited if he did, and if he didn't, he promises himself that he'll bring it next time and we move on. Works like a charm!). He remembered to take some of his Baht this day (which he has been saving up for almost a month!) and he was loving life. He kept saying, "I want to buy something!". He spent 30 Baht (almost $1) In Koh Kret and left with a bow and arrow, a little Thai toy, and this sucker. A little boys earnings go pretty far here! Notice this sucker is in the shape of a crocodile. We got to watch the man make some, pretty cool.

Koh Kret is famous for their pottery, and believe me, it is everywhere. Anutra's favorite thing is to make pottery here, so she wanted me to try. How hard could it be, right? Wrong. I was terrible. Embarrassingly, this is the best my creation ever got. From here, it just went down hill. Previous to this, I had watched a man make several small pots, each taking him around 1 minute. They were beautifully shaped with designs on the side and a wavy top. He made it look so easy! It was really fun to try this, and honestly, someday I'd really love to learn how. All the instruction I got was "hands wet" and "soft, soft". I'm sure there is more to it than that. I didn't bother taking mine home, it would have just been a sad reminder of how non-artistic I am. But, I think I'm adding this to my "things to do before I die" list.

I took my camera to church today, and got a picture of my nursery class. I didn't even try to get all their faces, it would have been impossible! But, this was one of the few minutes where the children were all content and quiet (you guessed it, snack time!). My little class is getting bigger and we can all barely fit in our TINY room, but come January, we'll lose our older kids to the older classes, so for now, we are enjoying who we have. Starting from the left: Eli (blonde tip of his head!), Kambren, Liza, Jane, Brigham, Hyrum, Narissa, Angelina, Charlotte, and a little girl who wandered in, we're not sure where she's from, who she is, or what language she speaks, but she sure enjoyed being with us!

The main reason I took my camera was to get one last picture of Jack and Ali together. Ali's family flies out to Canada on Tuesday and as much as we will miss them, we are SO happy they will be able to start a new life there where they will be together and safe. Thank you, Canada! Ali has been one of the faces I look forward to seeing every Sunday. He is always smiling, and loves to find Jack after classes and run around in the gym together. Such a sweet boy.

Masoud, Hanieh (holding somber Jane), Ali, and Shahnaz. Hanieh, the daughter, spoke today in Sacrament meeting. She spoke of how her life has changed since she joined the church. It was so sweet and simple. As little as we really know about this family, and I'm pretty sure our paths will never cross again, I know we will never forget them.

On a totally unrelated note, can I brag a bit about my husband? I knew Jeff had a gift for language before we came here (just like I knew I didn't have a gift for language), although he's never really had a chance to study one seriously, but I am blown away day after day at his Thai. He listens on his mp3 player to Thai lessons to and from work almost everyday, he studies little cards he's made up that he keeps in his wallet for when he gets a free minute, and the thing that is most impressive is that he is not afraid to use what he's just learned. This is where I really lack! He has guts. He is constantly asking people about how to say this, or pronounce that, or why it's like this... he eats it up! I really enjoy learning Thai, and while I think I'm probably better than the average expat with no previous ties to Thailand, I am still not very good. Jeff has started to learn to read and write Thai during the last month. He learned all 44 consanants and 30 vowels, and is actually starting to read signs and other random things we come across. I am so impressed. Then, today, he tells me that Cecile, a French women in our ward, came up to Jeremy Beck and had a short conversation with him and he understood everything she said (note from Jeff: I understood the words "tired", "blessing", "French", and "oil", which was enough to understand what she was asking for). Where does he get this? He thinks it is really silly that I make a big deal about this, but honestly, we know people who have been here for 10-15 years who can't even come close to doing what he does. He really has found a "thing" with language, and it's so fun to watch him get so excited about reading a McDonald's bag, or noticing that it takes 3 letters in Thai to say the abbreviation "S". It's awesome to be out with him and have him bust out some random phrase or question to someone, and they know exactly what he's saying. He's amazingly comfortable talking to random people in or about Thai, and they, of course, love that he's making such an effort. I knew my husband was awesome, but come on! How does he just keep getting better?

Every Sunday evening, Jack "performs" for Jeff what we've worked on during the week. We thought some of you might want to see his "tukka tukka" variation. Notice Janie coaching him with "1-2-3" which is what we always say to remind him to put his 3 fingers down in the right parts. She is his biggest fan. Is he a boy, or what? Mom and Dad, did we SWING our violins around like that when we were four?

I never dreamed teaching the violin to my own child would be such a challenge (because it's every day, not just once a week, like when I was teaching other people's children). It's SO much fun to watch him be so proud of himself when he "gets it"! And, I have to say, it really is quite an accomplishment for both of us!

23 September 2007

Little Miss Jane

Today is Jane's birthday. Anybody else SHOCKED that she is two years old? I can hardly believe it! I remember so well all the details of my labor with her like it was yesterday. I remember holding her for hours and hours wrapped up like a burrito as a newborn (also when she was 9 months old, which was when she finally stopped wanting this!). I remember singing her her first lullaby. I remember the way Jeff looked when he held his daughter for the first time. Life is good, isn't it?

This week was a fun one, where we got to do some things a little different from our everyday activities. Jane, of course, doesn't really get the whole birthday thing, but it was fun to spoil her a little bit anyway.

Tuesday was actually Anutra's birthday, so we spent the evening with her and Bird at a Korean restaurant. She is obsessed with Korean things right now because they are completely caught up in a Korean TV series. From what we can tell, Korea is the Asian Hollywood. They are the ones pumping out all the good series and movies over here. Although, we have yet to see one. I'm sure Anutra will get us going, but how exactly do we enjoy Korean TV with Thai subtitles?

The food at this place was great. I even ate raw tuna. Have to try everything, right? My favorite moment was when Anutra came out of the restroom and says, "You must see the bathroom, it's very sexy!". She was right, but I was giggling at her choice of words. This place was super modern and sleek, and thankfully, very empty. Between the kids running laps and eating their own bowls of ice cream, we actually got to eat and visit too. We LOVE Anutra and Bird, and love that they want to spend time with us! This picture was taken from the balcony. Aren't they cute?

Jack's friend, Pinky, came over to play this week. She doesn't speak English, and Jack doesn't speak much Thai, but they play together great! She is wearing her school uniform. We see Thai children in different variations of this uniform all over the city during the week. Very cute!

So, on with our Jane. The star of the week! She LOVES ba mii (egg noodles, surprisingly like Ramen!). She eats it forever, and eats every noodle. If I don't keep her bowl filled, she starts on the ones that have fallen on the floor!

Jane LOVES to play Jack's violin. So much, that we have to practice while she is sleeping or Daddy is here. She wanted to get it out this week just for fun, so I let her play on it for a while. She played and played, and made some interesting sounds! No matter what is coming out of this fiddle, though, she is PROUD of it!

I have been talking about doing it forever, and I decided this was the week! I finally took Janie to get her hair cut! I heard about this great place for kids that is cheap, so we tried it out. The girl was so sweet and fast, and Janie hardly knew what hit her! According to Jane, she went into this great place with awesome toys, sat down to watch Barney (not MY favorite, but it works), played with a blowdryer, and then posed for pictures. She just got a trim, but it was nice to get rid of some of the wispys, and she even still has curls!

This girl was so cute. She actually put braids in Janie's hair, which I don't know if I could do with that little amount, but it was cute. Notice, Jane is still watching Barney at this point.

Thursday, we met Scarlett and Sasha and their mothers at the Emporium to see a rain forest exhibit throughout the mall. There were lizard and porcupine cages along with many others, scattered throughout. Someone could hear a parrot sing while they were testing lipstick! I felt bad for the people who really were there just to shop! We got lucky and got a last minute ticket in to see the tiger cubs! Janie loved it, although we had a hard time keeping her off the snake that was also in this room. She thinks she can touch ALL snakes, just because she can touch the ones at Ocean World. Scary!

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the park where the kids played like crazy and Heather, Liza and I got to visit. We love to eat popsicles at the park! These are some pretty serious eaters, too. I LOVE watching my kids eat something they really love.

Janie loves climbing up the slides at this park (I know, I'm a terrible mom for letting them climb UP! I figure, if they aren't in anyone's way and it's safe, go for it!). She always gets to the top and says, "I did it!". I love her expression when she is so proud of herself.

Friday, I took Janie to a class at Little Gym. They let every kid have a free trial class and since I'm too cheap to actually PAY for a gym course for my 2 year old, I decided to just enjoy the free one! She loved doing somersaults over the huge balls, flips on the bar and especially the balance beam. It was fun to just let her run and play on new, safe, and clean toys. We had a GREAT time together. No pictures of this one, unfortunately. We were too busy, and I didn't want to seem like an annoying mother who's getting a free course and disturbing the class with pictures!

After her class, we went to the exhibit one more time to see the butterflies, her favorite! She stood and watched them forever! She kept flapping her arms every time one would fly to or away from the glass. She was in heaven! This exhibit was AMAZING! There were LIVE plants all over the mall, even around the escalators! I've never seen anything like it.

We spent yesterday at "The Mall" (this is actually the name of it) Bankapi where they have a water park on the rooftop. We decided this would be a fun place to have Jane's "party", which consisted of the four of us! We decided to splurge and start off with ice cream at Swensen's! Their ice cream is like a work of art! We all picked out our own creation, even Jack and Jane. Jane's was actually a face on the ice cream scoop with the chocolate covered cone as the hat. And Jack just wanted a strawberry scoop with sprinkles. I wish you could see the spoon Jeff ate his with! Very fun.

Theirs all looked pretty good, but mine was definitely the best. It was AMAZING! Chocolate ice cream, truffles, whip cream, bananas, with a shot glass full of hot fudge. Wow, can't do this very often!

We then went upstairs for some rides. The kids thought it was great that they actually got to put money in the machines this time! I kept reminding them, it's because it's a BIRTHDAY!

Swimming is Janie's FAVORITE thing, so we played and played, but didn't get any good pictures of Jane because she was too busy playing! But, here's a fun one of Jack. Don't you just love the swim caps everyone has to wear? Trust me, I was lovely.

After a couple of hours, it started to rain. This, of course, didn't stop us. Then, it started to pour. This was okay too, we were already wet, right? Then, Jane said it was time to get out. Not with words or motions, but with her lips. They were blue. I think she would have gone down the big slides again and again, floated in her tube, and splashed in the shallow water for hours, but I decided to be a responsible mother and put some clothes on her!

Jeff thought this was too funny, we had to share it. It's a plus size women's store called "Fat Story". How do you think this would go over in the states? Thais are just so matter of fact about their weight here. I'm sure they think it's weird that we use words like "Plus", or "women's size". Why don't we just say it like they do? I tend to think their way is a healthier approach in a lot of ways. Anyway, it's an interesting culture difference.

Since Jeff had meetings Sunday morning and afternoon, we decided to do almost everything on Saturday, so we finished off the day with blowing out candles on her cake at home. She actually understood the whole candle thing, which was fun. Although, Jack was more than willing to assist her if need be.

My darling Jane in her big two-year-old Birthday dress with the flowers she personally picked out from the vendor. Is she not the sweetest thing ever?

A few fun facts about our Janie Grill:

Every morning when Jeff leaves for work, she has to hug and kiss him multiple times. She runs and hug him and let her legs dangle, then kiss him on each cheek and grab his face so she can kiss him on the lips. She also LOVES our "family kiss" after our family prayer. She dives right in and wants to do it over and over again! She is so affectionate, we can't get enough of her!

She loves books. When she finds a book she wants to read, it doesn't matter where we are, she will yell, "read it! read it!". This is great, unless we are in church! Her favorites are The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear. She's also really starting to enjoy our Curious George collection. We got some GREAT video of her reading with us last night. In Goodnight Moon, she says "Mouse" like this: "Mouw...sh".

Her favorite songs are: I Love to See the Temple, I am a Child of God, and 'A' You're Adorable. She will often cuddle up to me in a taxi and say "Temple!", and close her eyes to listen. This makes taxi rides quite easy some days.

When I ask her if she wants something, occasionally she won't answer, "yes!", she will say, "ME!" and raise her hand. I think this comes from me asking the children "who wants...." questions.

She is almost completely potty trained! Yay! I can't believe we are almost diaperless!

This is Jane enjoying her birthday presents she opened today. She didn't want anything to do with a doll in this stroller, although Jack sure tried! It was fun to give her some girly things for once! This girl's been raised playing with tools and trucks! Not a bad thing, by any means, but it's fun to enjoy having a GIRL! Notice the cute flip flops. She picked these out herself, although she can barely walk in them!

I am continually amazed at Janie and how she adjusts to all the change in our lives! She's stayed in countless hotels, traveled so many hours and lived in Thailand for almost half of her little life. She seems to always adapt better than we dare hope. She has no idea how many people she makes smile when she walks past every day. The kisses she blows to random construction workers, taxi drivers, or cashiers brighten so many faces, especially mine. I wish everyone could have a daughter.

Here's a video I put together in honor of our sweet Jane. You will see some familiar pictures, I'm sure, but they are our favorites from the last two wonderful years since Jane joined our family. Blessings, blessings.

We found out some fantastic news today. The sweet family from church who had to report to immigration last Wednesday, through some miraculous events weren't required to stay in the Detention Center until they move to Canada in a couple of weeks. It was an answer to all our prayers. Jeff visits the Dhakhal family in the Center again this week, but thankfully, it is just one family, not two. Having people we know and love having to worry about safety in their home lands and immigration problems, has made us very aware of how wonderful it is to be Americans. So many of our everyday problems suddenly seem embarrassingly insignificant.

16 September 2007

Cute enough to eat.... literally.

Last Sunday, I met the wife of a man who's been in Bangkok on business for several weeks. While she was here we decided to get together and do some touristy things! I LOVE doing touristy things, but what I don't like is the touristy atmosphere. I always feel like everyone is trying to take advantage of me because I am a foreigner, and for all they know, I am fresh off the airplane! Also in touristy places, vendors are much more aggressive. If you even glance their way, or (gasp) stop to look, they will hoard you with their postcards, paintings, and all kinds of knick-knacks. I was nervous to take my wallet out to buy some water, but luckily, I was off the main pathway a bit. I hate feeling this way because this is the only time I feel this way in Bangkok. Generally, the locals are always happy and sincerely helpful, even the vendors!

So, Michelle and I met up in the morning to visit Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. We took the train and then caught a river taxi, which is always fun. I am learning the ropes a little better now with the whole river taxi thing. I now know NOT to go to the official looking counter with the colored maps marking each pier that advertises selling tickets. Go to the small desk off to the side with a random girl and a tray of money with tiny paper tickets and no sign whatsoever. It only cost us 18 baht instead of 100 baht or more. I'm wising up!

We had a GREAT morning together seeing the beautiful temple and palace, not really knowing exactly what we were looking at, even though I've seen it all before. I wished I knew more, but everything in this country has a meaning or a story behind it, so it's impossible to learn it all! It was fun to see it all again, but the best part was being able to visit with Michelle. I love hearing everyone's story who passes through. She is from all over the states, but is currently living in Japan with her husband and three daughters. It was fun to swap kid and foreigner stories with someone else who understand the challenges and rewards of living abroad.

After seeing the sights, we went to the Paragon for lunch (we weren't feeling too daring this day). Janie was a trooper through this whole busy morning (really, she was happy, pleasant, used the potty great, and of course charmed all the tourists), and Jack loved that he got to go home with Scarlett and have a treasure hunt with Jim. Everything went so smoothly.

This is us just before hopping on the train to head home. Thanks Michelle for a FUN day!

Jeff had a rare, and not so happy experience this week. Because I wasn't there, there's not much I can say about it, but I think it's noteworthy. Jeff and Brother States, went to visit a family in the Immigration Detention Center. The Dhakhal family are refugees from their home country of Nepal, and just a few months ago, Thailand tightened their laws on immigration and suddenly they were illegal. They are a young father and wife with four young daughters. Shortly after we arrived in Bangkok, this family was all baptized (all but Swastika, the youngest). Although we can't communicate with anyone but the father, we have fallen in love with them. It was Jeff's turn to visit and take them things from the ward. They have to go in pairs to visit, so one can visit the mother and one can visit the father, which is the only way that they get to all be together as a family (for that hour). Very sad conditions, especially for people that we feel such an attachment to. Very similar to the prison scene in Broke Down Palace, if you've seen that. Good news is, we found out today that they might get out temporarily until they are accepted by another country (most likely Canada). Sad thing is, one of our other favorite families from church is going in on Wednesday to meet with Immigration. They might have to spend some time in there before they are able to leave the country as well.

This is the Taghizadeh Kamal Abadi family. Ali is one of Jack's good friends at church. They met at the father and son's outing earlier in the year. A couple of weeks later, we got to see the entire family get baptized, and I will never forget it. Brother and Sister Taghizadeh Kamal Abadi both bore their testimonies afterward. Although it was in their native language (they are from Iran), it was so touching. (It was extremely bright this day, I thought that was nice of Ali to help Jack, even when he clearly is not enjoying the brightness himself!)

Both of these families have been so sweet to us since we've arrived here. There's so little we can do to repay them, so we ask you to please remember these sweet families in your prayers this week as major decisions will be made regarding their futures. Anybody else feel so blessed to be from a country that we feel safe in?

On a lighter note, Jeff took Jack to a birthday party on Saturday. I was a little sad I didn't get to go because it would have been my first kid party where it's all organized by a party planner! Can you believe how they do things here? I just have to laugh. Anyway, they had a bouncy castle, all kinds of food, and a magician/clown.

This is Jack assisting the clown during one of his tricks. How did this clown know that Jack is the king of ropes? Jack was feeling pretty cool that he pulled the rope so hard that the knot came out!

I guess Jack decided to do his own thing at one point and entertained himself! This is what Jeff caught him doing. He's hilarious.

Sounds like it was a great party, although Jeff said almost every kid was melting down at one point or another. I don't know what it is about birthday parties that turns kids into monsters. Sounds like Jack took time out when he needed it, thus preventing any kind of breakdown. He's pretty good at stuff like that, thank goodness.

You might think this looks like a lipstick mark on Janie's cheek. I wish. In nursery today, a little boy BIT her! As you can see, it was pretty bad. She is generally a very tough cookie (with a big brother, don't you have to be?), but this really got to her. She cried and cried until we were in a taxi on the way home. It was so sad. I think she'll be black and blue tomorrow. She'll probably feel fine, but I don't know how I'm going to explain it to the million people (front desk staff, all our favorite security guards, vendors, and grocery store clerks who all know Jane by name) that are going to ask me about it this week. How do I say, "I don't beat my child" in Thai?

It rained today. This is our drive home from church. Jeff was hanging out of the taxi window trying not to get splashed by the water that was surrounding the car. There is actually a sidewalk on the side of the road. It's pretty amazing how fast rain comes down here.

Jack fell asleep in quiet time today, and I didn't even know until the rest of us woke up from our naps! He sure knows how to find a comfy spot wherever he is!

We're kind of boring this week, I realize. Thanks for keeping up with us, even during our very uneventful times! We love you all, and are so grateful for wonderful friends and family who support us! Please keep in touch, we'd love to hear what you are up to as well!

09 September 2007

Goodbye diaper... Hello Kitty!

I look at this week as either being uneventful and unproductive, or absolutely exhausting and totally effective. It's hard to know what to think when the whole week has been centered on our Jane, who decided she was ready to try the potty. I don't know who is crazier, her for wanting to train so young, or me for actually pursuing it. We got very little else done besides extra laundry, lots of trips to the potty, and watching Dumbo, Jane's favorite. But, she has blown us away with her progress and maturity with the whole potty thing, that makes me think that maybe this week hasn't been wasted.

Isn't she darling? This is her in her "kitties" (Hello Kitty underwear), watching Dumbo and drinking LOTS of fluids. There's something so fun about having her out of those bulky diapers and wearing underwear where you get to see her cute behind. And it's cute.

My friend, Heather, told me of a time when she was talking to another mother about potty training. When this mother asked what Heather's potty training theory was, she said, "I sat Scarlett down and told her if she went wee I'd give her a sweetie!". The lady looked at her and said, "that is the most disgusting thing I've ever heard", and turned around and walked away. So, every time I gave Janie an M&M for performing her duty, I thought of this story and felt like a wonderful mother, of course. But, can't argue with results, right?

My favorite potty moments have been when Jack is home with me and he can celebrate with us! He has taken my original "potty dance" to a new level, adding moves that make Janie laugh so hard, it's a good thing she's still sitting on the potty. Yesterday was our first day with big outings, and Jane was a champ. She even conquered the dreaded squatters. She's my hero. Anyone read Dave Barry? He wrote a hilarious article years back about taking his daughter into a public men's room for the first time, and I couldn't stop thinking of it this week. I was hoping to find it online, but had no success. If anyone has read it, or can find it, please let me know. I remember laughing out loud as I read it, and I didn't even have children yet.

After a week of lots of juice, clean ups, Dumbos, and wet "kitties" (and she actually asks Kitty if she's okay when she gets her wet), we can look back and smile because of all the successes, potty dances, and high fives that have made it actually quite fun. What a week.

Even during potty week, life goes on...

Occasionally, Jack will get himself started on some computer games in the office. I love it when Jane pulls up the ottoman and stands there to watch. It's fun to come around the corner and see them quietly enjoying this together.

A doll, isn't she? I love that toothy grin. Anybody else just want to EAT their children?

I've mentioned before how much Jack loves school, but he does NOT like the bus. We started something new this week. I take him to school in the morning, he rides the bus home, and it works GREAT. It's more money(taxi fare) and an extra hour in the morning, but my boy is happier, and I get a chance to visit with more parents at the school, which is always a treat. So, we are moving into a new phase that I think will work even better.

This is us in the tuk-tuk on the way to school one day. We can't take this everyday, but when it's available, the driver is so nice to take us there!

Jack does "quiet time" instead of a nap most days now. He usually spends his time reading, listening to books on CD, or just playing in the play room. This day, he marched into the play room with cardboard, paper clips, and his rope. I decided I'd better check it out. He instructed me on how to put this thing together (I still don't know what it is), but he knew exactly how everything should go together. Here it is! I explained to him what an inventor is, and he thought that was the coolest thing ever, so I think he was going for inventing something. I haven't seen one of these before, have you? You should see this kid tie knots now-a-days. Pretty impressive.

Janie LOVES pizza. She asked for it all day Friday and seemed so surprised when we didn't have it. So, we ordered pizza that night to celebrate her potty successes! This was her and Jack with fully tummies.

Jack wanted to wear Jeff's mp3 player after he got back from his run. It doesn't fit around his arm, so he decided the leg was a good alternative. This is his running pose.

Saturday, we went to a new park in the morning. It was SO hot, and we couldn't find the place to rent the bikes, so we just walked around a bit and ate coconut milk ice cream, delicious! The kids were in heaven when they saw this broken sprinkler head. It took them hours to dry off, but they were happy and cool! Isn't this park beautiful?

Saturday night, we met some friends for dinner. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures except this one of Jack and Sasha playing. This is one of our favorite restaurants. Not because of the food ("it's rubbish" as Heather says), but because there are toys there for the kids! We met this family at Scarlett's birthday party and decided to get together. They moved from Arizona and are here with the Embassy. They are having a rough time with the transition, but are so great, and we enjoyed spending the evening with them, and plan to get together again soon. It was fun to talk with Americans (well, Liza, the mother, is actually Russian, but she is more American than most here!), and find parents who have similar values as we have.

Jack and Sasha played together at the restaurant for 3 hours!

Other favorite moments in the week:

1. Hearing bumping noises coming out of Jack's closet, only to have him appear moments later in his superman pajamas, in full superman character.

2. Surprising Jane by tickling her, and thinking her mouthful of sticky rice was going to come out of her nose.

3. Jack was supposed to bring his favorite toy to show and tell on Monday. What would you think my boy would choose? His rope with a magnet he taped on the end. The possibilities are endless with this toy, if you didn't know.

4. Jane started swimming lessons again, and it took her all of 3 seconds to remember how much she loves the water. I LOVE swimming with her. She is learning how to come up and get a breath before going back under. The second she comes up, she says, "again!". Where did this girl come from?

5. At the restaurant on Saturday, I ordered Jeff's dinner for him while he was playing with the children. I asked for the hamburger. The waiter looked right at me and said, "we don't have hamburgers..." (I was very confused, because I was looking right at it on the menu!) "... we only have beef burgers".

So, I continue my quest for going out of the house minus diapers and wipes. I know the journey has only begun. And what's funny to me is that it's NOT easier to be rid of the diaper stuff. I've traded in a diaper and wipes for an extra pair of shorts, a shirt, plastic bag, towel (just in case we are in a taxi!), extra "kitties", AND a diaper and wipes. I feel like I'm leaving for a week every time I leave the house! The things we do as mothers... good thing she's so worth it.

02 September 2007

Veal anyone?

A lot of highlights to this week. It was my last couple of days before Jack started back to school, so we decided to play, play, play! The week started off with a very hot and LONG visit to Lumpini park, which is always fun. We played at two different playgrounds there and also learned that not very many vendors are out on Mondays, so it's a good idea to bring extra water! We went through our two bottles pretty fast in that heat! We ran into the sister missionaries at the park, who we adore, and had a nice visit with them while the kids were in the swings for at least 45 minutes. No pictures from this outing, but believe me, we had a blast and were very hot and quite sweaty!

Tuesday, our last day before school, we met friends at the children's museum. It was fun to let some of our friends meet for the first time. Scarlett and Heather met us there, along with Mary Jane and her girls, and Jeanette Nielsen and her 5 kids, who she homeschools. It was a GREAT time together, and a great way to spend our last morning before Jack and Scarlett started school. Plus, that night, Jack was exhausted and went to bed quite early!

This is Jack, Narissa, and Scarlett in the huge bubble maker. It surrounds them with bubble until it closes in on them, or more often than not, they karate chop it. They were a fun bunch.

There was an entire house made out of sweets. It was real food that they had hardened somehow, but it looked so good, I caught Jane with green frosting on her lips a couple of times! Very cute!

Jack has really wanted a mo hawk forever, so we decided to give him one. It lasted as long as it took to take this picture. He thought it was pretty cool. We promptly buzzed him to his usual cool cut with absolutely no maintenance. He likes that he looks like his dad, and I like that I don't have to comb his hair anymore, only to have him try to make it spiky the second he walked out of the bathroom. This is his "tough guy" face, if you were wondering. I think his eyes just keep getting greener. You can really see them in this picture. I swear they used to be brown!

Jeff was sick for a couple of days this week, so he stayed home to recover. We loved it. It was nice to have him home, even if he wasn't 100%. He also had a lot of church work to do this week in the evenings, so it took a lot out of him. I loved this picture of him reading to the kids one of the days he was home. He does this all the time, but we rarely catch it with the camera.

Jack's first day back to school! Yay! He was SO excited to be in K2 (the big kids!), although a little apprehensive about entering the purple door, instead of the white. Jeff went in late that morning so he could watch Jane while I accompanied Jack on the bus and sat in class with him for the first bit. He has a darling teacher, Teacher Harmit, who has taught at his school for 23 years now. Out of the 16 students in his class, there are 10 different nationalities. Anything from Finnish to Japanese. Jack is the only full American. I love hearing his classmates talk because they all have unique accents, and most speak a different language at home. I love that he can be around such diversity.

Jack and Jane being silly before going down to catch the bus. I didn't get school pictures this week because I didn't want to add to the chaos and excitement of it all by making him stop and pose all over. I'll get some good ones after Jack gets back into his groove and it won't seem like a big deal.

Jack missed the last week of school last year because of our trip to Utah, so they sent home a bunch of his things the first day. I especially liked this painting of me. Doesn't it look just like me? This boy does more crafts and projects at this school than I've ever seen! He really loves the paints and clay.

This is Jack and Janie waiting for the bus the second day. I think Janie wanted to go with him. I know so many people here that think I'm crazy to not have her in school, but she's just SO young! It's hard to explain that I want her with me. At this age, I'm better than any school!

We went down to get dinner from our favorite chicken lady, only to find her so busy that she only had one chicken breast left. She sent Jeff home with three chicken wings instead of another breast. I wasn't sure if the children would eat it, especially Jane who doesn't eat meat. She grabbed one herself out of the bag after seeing Jack with one and started in on it (Jack, by the way, is about as carnivore as they come!). These are real wings too. Not the fried stuff from pizza hut. Wing shape and everything, just stuck on a stick and grilled. She ate every bit of that wing. I couldn't believe it. I took pictures and even kept the bone because I knew Jeff, who was out for the night, wouldn't believe me. What do you call a girl who won't eat meat, fruit, and very few veggies? This was a huge breakthrough for us! Way to go, Jane!

One day this week, I went to the grocery store and had them deliver the groceries because I was on my way somewhere with the kids. I wasn't there to receive them, so I was in for a surprise when I got home! There was all kinds of stuff there that I'd never seen before! I discovered that I was missing some juice, cereal, and veggies. BUT, I had all kinds of expensive farang food in my fridge and on my counter! We had American juice, taco sauce, canned tomatoes (name brand), fancy peppers, zucchini, and some veal cutlets! I couldn't believe it. After we realized they mixed some bags up, Jeff sprinted to the freezer hoping to find some ice cream. It was an exciting moment for him, but he was disappointed in the end. Poor Jeff. I didn't know what to do about the mix up, so I just emailed the market to let them know what had happened. I never heard back, so we are now enjoyed our brief taste of some farang foods that we definitely wouldn't have paid for ourselves!

So, this picture is of Jane helping me make zucchini bread, because I actually had zucchinis. Yum! My kids are the best "baker's assistants" I've ever had!

We had the privilege of having two of our friends from church over for lunch after our church meetings today. This is Manu and Rajesh, both from India, although different parts. They have both joined the church since we have been in the ward, and we were privileged to be at both of their baptisms. It was fun to hear about their experiences in Bangkok, their background, and especially talk about the church. Jeff handed out home teaching assignments today, and for two brand new members, it was a new concept, but I have a feeling, they will both be fantastic home teachers. They've already contributed to our ward in such a great way. They are so happy and positive and have such a fresh perspective on the gospel and life in general. We felt so blessed to have them in our home and really hope to have them again.

Is Janie cute or what? We call this the Peter Pan pose. I love when they stand with their hands on their hips. Especially when you can see these darling legs of hers! I don't think she even wore pants at all this day. Who would want to cover them up if you don't have to?

Today was a big day at church because Bishop Sampson was released. He is moving back to the U.S. for a bit, then onto the Philippines or Singapore. We will miss him dearly! They had an open house to say goodbye to him tonight at one of the member's homes. He has been fantastic, and we feel lucky to have even had this short time with him.

Brother Andersen is now Bishop Andersen. You might remember him from our Thanksgiving post. We spent Thanksgiving night with his family. There's even a picture of him unscrewing the chair that Jack somehow managed to get his little body stuck in. Oh, that boy. We love Bishop Andersen and are excited to also love him as our bishop.

Also, at this open house, we got to say goodbye to the DeZoysa family. Jeff home teaches them, and Bro. DeZoysa has also been the ward clerk, so we will miss seeing him at the door greeting us every single Sunday morning. They are just waiting on Visas and then they will be off to Canada to start a new life!

I've kind of thrown this post together, so I apologize. It's been a crazy and wonderful week. I'm looking forward to getting back into our school mode, which creates some sort of schedule for us. We love you all!