09 March 2008

A big brother

When Jack was a toddler, I started to notice that everywhere we went (parks, museums, and especially the grocery store), he would always wander off with whatever family was toting around a load of kids. He would find that mom that had 5 kids under 7 attached to her grocery cart, and join right in! I've wished many times that I could somehow give him an older sibling, since he always gets along with older children so well. This does prove to be a bit tougher than adding a younger one. We came pretty close this week though!

Remember my friend I mentioned last week who was in the hospital? (They discovered it was just a severe case of food poisoning). We got to bring her son, Curt, home with us on Monday night. I was super excited, because we all love Curt, and especially love that we could help his family out in a small way. Jack was especially excited he got to have a friend sleep over, which hardly ever happens!

Since I got to keep Curt until Tuesday afternoon, I thought this was a good occasion for Jack to play hooky and play at home with all of us. When Curt's parents came to pick him up, I even talked them into staying the night here instead of making the hour long trek home, which consists of taxi, train, bus, and motorbike. Crisse was doing much better, although still quite weak, but in very good spirits. I thought another night of rest would make the journey a bit easier.

I took the kids out for a bit, and got a lot of funny looks and questions about if Curt was mine. I wanted to just say, "YES!". We were in the truck on the way home, and this tuk-tuk driver was loving that the kids were waving to him. I also liked that you could see a motorcycle taxi to the side in this one. Too bad he doesn't have a family of 4 on the back!

The first time Jack met Curt, they were instant friends. It's fun to watch Jack have a friend who is just as silly, crazy, and also affectionate. They will wrestle one minute, then be hugging and have their arms around each other the next. They kissed each other goodbye today.

Jack thinks these lame games we have on our cell phones are so cool. Can you tell how video-game-deprived our child is compared to most kids now days? I feel just fine about it! I think Curt is Mr. Handsome in this one. What a heart breaker he's going to be!

Jack's never looked SO white until he's next to a kid like Curt. Seeing those two in the bathtub together was hilarious! Not to mention all the laughing, yelling, and splashing! We had to get out the mop afterward. Thank goodness for built in drains in the floor here. They think of everything!

Crisse and Neil just stayed one night as a family, but because of all our primary meetings this weekend, they came back Friday to spend the weekend. They were AWESOME house guests! I woke up Saturday and Sunday morning to the smell of crepes, French toast, and eggs. That was a new sensation for me! Neil is quite a cook and learned how to make American breakfasts from his American companions on his mission. This family just made themselves at home, and we felt like they were just part of the family too! Jack and Curt played and played and hardly wanted to stop to eat they were having so much fun. Jack and his "brother" didn't get sick of each other for a minute!

While Crisse and I were at a meeting, Jeff and Neil took the kids to story time at the library, then brought home grilled chicken for everyone. Jane loves this kind of lunch and dug right in! This girl is generally a picky eater, but this week, she tried ham and an olive all on her own! We're making progress!

While Jeff and Neil found a billiards hall, Crisse and I took the kids down for a swim. I took a bunch of water-friendly toys down in a sack. Jack immediately dumped everything out and what did he want to play with? The sack! He thought this was the best water toy ever! Who would have guessed?

Jane, on the other hand was so entranced by the cups, bowls, and spoons I brought down, she hardly got in the water at all! Just poured things from one container to another. Kids just don't need fancy toys!

So, a HUGE part of our week was focused on the fun De Jesus family. Honestly, since we met them, I have just thought they were incredible, but couldn't really figure out what made them unique in my mind. I don't know exactly was it is. I've met some really incredible people here. But, whatever it is, it was only enhanced by having them in our home for several days this week! We ate together, played together, watched The Office together, prayed together, cleaned together, and had some great dinner conversation! Some things I learned about them that were amazing to me, were all of Neil's jobs. He's been anything from a fisherman to a tricycle driver (a motorbike with a sidecar), and now he's a math teacher. They also built their own home on government land in the Philippines with help from the missionaries on their "community service" days. His education was made possible because of the program that preceded the continuing education program organized by the church. (You hear about people benefiting from the church's programs, but it was awesome to talk with them about how it's affected their lives directly!) Crisse originally came to Thailand to teach because her dad came here and said he wanted her to come too. She didn't ask questions, but did as her dad asked, now it's working out in a really good way for her whole family. Their plan is to be here for another 3-5 years and save enough to buy their own taxi when they get home, which will present all kinds of opportunities! We're so excited for them! Curt speaks almost flawless English, Tagalog, one other Philippine dialect, and attends school in Thai. He was teaching Jack and I how to count in Tagalog during taxi rides. This is just one amazing family that we feel SO lucky to have spent time with! We've got another busy Primary weekend next week, so we're happy that they will stay with us again so Jack can have his "big brother" back!

Amidst everything else, we did do a few random things that we enjoyed. Monday morning, Jane's friend, Brandon, came over for a play date. Brandon is kind of Jane's "Curt". They get along really well, and when they haven't seen each other for a while (like during mid-term break), they go running to each other shouting out each other's names. It's quite a sight!

I've been spending a lot of time with Brandon's mom this week. We walked over to the Thursday market together again this week, although Brandon was at home sick on his Daddy's day off, so Sukma was nice enough to help me navigate this crazy market while I found the things I needed. I love the Thursday market. It's nuts, but it's so diverse and changes quite regularly. This day, I bought broccoli, carrots, mangoes, several shirts for the kids, popcorn, sticky rice, a Bingo game, and earrings. Nice to have a place I can easily get to for things we need, and some things we don't, for a really cheap price! I love Thursdays.

I've talked about Sukma a lot, and I finally got a picture of her! This woman is one of my favorites! I mentioned earlier that she watches a lot of American series and movies. Guess why Brandon's name is Brandon? Ever seen Beverly Hills 90210? I couldn't stop laughing.

We also spent a really fun evening with Anutra, Bird, and Koong. We met them at a restaurant in a small hotel that is owned by a friend of Anutra's. The whole hotel is decorated in traditional Thai style, with many originals. We took a tour afterwards, and it felt like a museum! The food at the restaurant was awesome. They even had my favorite, Masaman curry. One funny thing about restaurants here, is that they have huge TVs in them. When they saw us come in, they immediately changed the channel to Cartoon Network for the kids. I actually hate this channel. We took it off our TV completely, so we were grateful that they were playing some classic Tom and Jerry episodes. I didn't realize how violent those old cartoons are that we all grew up with, but it certainly didn't seem to effect the kids that way! They were laughing OUT LOUD, along with a really old lady on the next table, all the wait staff and.... Jeff. He was loving it! It certainly doesn't make for good conversation at dinner, but it was good fun to all be laughing together at these classic cartoons!

It was easy to get the kids to look at the "camera" because Jeff was standing right in front of the HUGE plasma screen!

We all walked to the train afterwards, and Anutra made Jeff pose for this picture next to his look-alike. These huge signs are up all over the city. Maybe that's why he started to grow the beard, so people would stop asking him for autographs!

Jane loves going for walks through the city, and is good to stay in her stroller. Jack was never content to sit in a stroller, so I've really enjoyed this about Jane. Especially in this city where she's much safer when she's contained. This day, we ended up at the park where we fed the birds some crackers, played on the toys, and ate some pineapple and som tam. I love the parks here. Although the playground equipment is anything but well-maintained, the grounds are exceptionally beautiful. It makes for a happy morning for both of us. This picture reminds me of one of Faith at a park in New Jersey. Vanessa, do you know which one I'm talking about? She was a bit older than Jane.

Jane's been super independent this week. We've been hearing a lot of "Janie's turn, okay?", or tonight when Jeff was trying to help Jane with her nightgown, "STOP! Go away! Janie's turn!". She also has been starting to tell Jack what to do. She ordered him to time out this week, "Time out! Okay?", which of course, Jack and I both thought was hilarious. I should point out that Jane says all these things with a sweet (but slightly stern) voice, which makes it just that much funnier. Also, she's been talking about her "armpips" (I remember this being a Clark term too, am I right?), and I love that whenever she looks down to see her big, round tummy, she laughs and says, "punkin!".

Here we go with another full week. I'm in the final stages of preparing for the Ultimate Easter Activity for the Primary kids. We're really excited for our first one, and if we can just get everyone into the city on a Saturday morning, we'll be in really good shape!

Love you all, and have a GREAT week!


karalynstrings said...

It is fun to look at your blog and see pictures beautiful suroundings and warm weather. I am missing warm weather. We are going to be celebrating Easter in two feet of snow! Thank you for taking the time to post pictures and so much detail about your weekly adventures. I really look forward to reading it Sunday mornings. Your kids are absolutely adorable.

Andrew & Vanessa and kids said...

Yes, I remember which picture, and I think Faith was about the same age as Jane! what an exciting week. You really do get to know someone when they're IN your home living their lives. Glad you could help your cute friends.
We love you guys!

John and Megan said...

I love all of your wonderful pictures of the kids! They seem so happy, it's great. And you look so beautiful, too. It looks like you are having such a great time, and I'm very jealous of the warm weather. It's been so cold in Pennsylvania. I just can't wait for spring to come.

Team Hanni said...

You are such a fabulous lady! I love that you can open your doors and invite friends in. I need to be more like you. What an opportunity you have!

Will you explain what sticky rice and some of the other food you get regularly? It all sounds so fun. Was it hard to get used to the food at first?

byufish said...

Wow...I don't know many people who are as charitable, fun-loving, easy-going and Christlike as you Mindy. It truly is the outlook you have on the world. Keep it, it does me a lot of good just reading about it! Makes me happy to know you and the rest of your family!

Nate said...

Hi Hillmans! We read each week about your adventures and love it. Especially the pictures. One thing though. The last couple weeks we've stopped seeing pictures of Jeff and now there's this bearded guy instead. Who is that? ;-)

Just kiddin' We'll have to meet up and say hello when you guys are state side, if you've got the time.

Greetings from all of us Hansons