31 August 2008

Princess, parachute, and the Peiris family

Do you ever have those weeks that feel like 3 weeks in ONE? Yes? That was ours this week! It was wonderful, crazy, busy, and filled with things and people we love.

I mentioned a while back that I was asked to play in a concert by my friend's husband. Since then, I've been more motivated to get my violin out and I have absolutely loved it! I haven't been practicing hours a day, like I used to, but whatever I've fit in has felt SO good. It reminds me of finding money hidden in an old wallet. You know the feeling. It used to be yours, but you lost it and have gradually forgotten about it, yet it was still there, hiding. Now that you've found it you think, WOW! What a bonus! I've felt that way. I love playing my violin, and being in Thailand has been the longest I've been away from it for the 25 years I've played. I'm not playing how I once did, but it doesn't even matter. I love it! And, as a side note, with all this playing, and now that we are certain we're returning to the States in December, I emailed the administrator for the Orchestra at Temple Square. I just wanted to ask him, with all the changes that have happened in the last two years, what I needed to do to get back into the orchestra. This sweet man said, "What do you need to do? Come home!". Just one more thing to look forward to!

So, the reason all of this has been in my thoughts is because the concert was this week. We had a rehearsal and short recording session on Monday night that was quite an ordeal just to get to! My baby-sitter was late (the buffer between my departure and Jeff's arrival), and I couldn't get a taxi because, come to find out, the university where the rehearsal was was SO far away! When I finally got a taxi, I'm sure he went at least 20 km in the wrong direction, and although he was always nice, I thought that he might just dump me on the side of the road and head back into the city! The taxi cost was almost 500 baht ($15), plus 125 baht ($3.50) for tolls! I was dying! I've never had to pay this much for a taxi before! Needless to say, I was also late. Nice first impression, eh?

So, to make a long story short, we rehearsed Monday, and the concert was Tuesday. It was a 12 piece string section, with a few woodwinds, a jazz bassist (very cool), and a drum set for a few numbers. It was a nice little ensemble that came together well in the end, thanks to our awesome conductor, Bundit. This picture is actually of Bundit's wife, Mary Jane, and the other soloist rehearsing with the piano during our break. I had no way of getting a picture of the actual ensemble since I was IN it! I loved being in a rehearsal again, and although it was quite grueling, it felt nice to get a feel for things again.

Until the night of, I had no idea what the concert was actually for. It turned out to be a 50th anniversary for a big company over here. And, my goodness, it was AMAZING! It was held in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Apparently, this is not only the best hotel in Bangkok, but one of the best hotels in the entire world! (as I came home that night, my neighbor upstairs was SHOCKED that I'd never been before. I guess they go for "Sunday Brunch" once or twice a month! Yes, we don't quite fit into this expat community in oh, so many ways!) It was an experience just to ENTER this hotel. On my way to our room before the sound check which was a few hours before everyone arrived, I saw three things. People putting new carpet in the hallway, one room with a couple dozen waiters sitting in rows on the carpet watching their "coach" lay out the game plan, and the best was the waiters in the ballroom, who were actually practicing their serving. Honestly, it was right out of a movie. They got the cue from someone and each waiter around the head table presented the "main course" at the exact same time! One waiter for each guest. It was pretty impressive. I sneaked a few shots of the set-up, before the guests arrived. It was a good set-up, although I thought the fog machine was a bit much when we first arrived!

The table settings were amazing. They lit the candles (although I don't know how) on all the tall ones, and the other centerpieces were these beautiful traditional Thai headpieces called "cha-da". It was all gorgeous. Fit for a Queen. Or, at least a princess, who was actually in attendence! I'm sure I'll never get the chance to play for a real princess again in my life, so it was neat to look out and see her there. There are three princesses in Thailand, and she's the one I know as "the one everybody loves".

It was nice to play with a group again, and also exciting to have my dear friend, Mary Jane, there that night too. She was my first friend in Thailand and has remained absolutely consistent the entire two years we've been here. She's such the super-woman in my eyes. I admire her in so many ways, but the one that always impresses me the most is how she's been able to completely immerse herself into this Thai/expat lifestyle, yet keep her priorities completely in place. She's found a balance I've found to be quite rare in expats. Her voice is gorgeous, and she and Bundit are an amazing team of entertainers. They really are just one amazing family!

So, after this whole concert thing, I felt like I could finally get back to real life! Jack's been loving school, and especially loves getting a new reading book every day! He is reading quite well and is in the most advanced books his teacher has in the classroom. He LOVES school, and thankfully, school loves him too. This is a picture of Jane on the playground while we were picking Jack up. I loved the sandy feet and her toothy smile. (Heidi, doesn't this remind you of that picture of Ellie from last summer at the park?)

Swimming is a big part of our life here, if you haven't noticed. My kids love it and are always thrilled to head to the pool in the afternoons! Can you tell? We'll definitely miss having access to a pool whenever we want!

Lots of Jane pictures this week. Jane was glowing with Jeff kissing her on the cheeks yesterday. I don't know why, we kiss her all the time! But, she LOVES her Daddy, and she definitely prefers him over me when she has a choice. I wouldn't have it any other way. I love watching them together. In her hand, her favorite ice cream treat. What little girl doesn't want sprinkles?

Anutra came over this week, and as always, brought something for the kids. I was thrilled to see that it wasn't candy, but a fun sticker/sand craft. The kids, with Jeff and Anutra's help, made their creations, and a huge mess in the process. It was great fun and they were so proud afterward!

We were happy that Khun Bird could come over after work, although there wasn't much play time left! Jane always jumps for joy when she knows Bird is coming over! There's really someting special about Khun Bird, and we're always thrilled to have him and Anutra with us! It was BLT night, something they had never had before. I'm sure they were thinking our food is SO bland, because compared to Thai food, it definitely is!

Jack got "invincible" this week and got to choose something from my store. He chose a Woody and Buzz with parachutes combo. Of course, we have to do everything in twos these days! So, Jeff took the kids down while I was at the gym to try them out! Jack was, and still is, loving throwing his everywhere, but for some reason, Jane was more interested in talking to the cleaning lady! Thank goodness for bunkbeds that makes parachuting fun, even indoors! (I'll never get over the GREEN here. I love it.)

Saturday, we were invited to dinner in the home of a family we know from church. The Peiris family is from Sri Lanka, yet they speak a different language than almost every other Sri Lankan family in the ward. It was interesting to learn from them about the civil war that is occuring right now in their country. As we read the summary of their experiences that forced them to flee to Thailand, Jeff and I couldn't keep track of how many times their lives had been threatened, guns had been pulled on them, and all they ways they had attempted to find safety. This sweet family left everything behind (and they had a LOT) so they could be somewhere safe. They are currently waiting to be accepted by a third country, and as far as we can tell, it's looking good. We have high hopes that they will leave Thailand before we do, and nothing would make us happier!

Before this night, I didn't feel like I knew this family very well, but Jeff had had many chances to help Nilanta with various things and visit with them both. I knew their children, Dushan, because he's in primary (and one of the most amazing 8 year olds I've ever known) and Yohan, who is in nursery with Jane. Chandra, the mother, says that Yohan calls every little blonde doll or girl they see, "Jane". Nilanti, the daughter, is an amazing girl. She's a second mother to her brothers, and was so happy and helpful the entire time we were there. She is going to be an amazing mother someday!

From what I gathered, I'm pretty sure Chandra and Nilanti were cooking all day long in preparation for our arrival at 6:30pm. I couldn't believe all the food! Nilanta wouldn't let us serve ourselves, and now I know why. As soon as I would say, "that's enough", he would add two more spoonfuls! The family didn't eat because they don't eat until very late (the norm for Sri Lankans we are finding out), so they just served, visited, and watched us eat. It was to our disadvantage though that they had their hands free, because when we would only have a couple bites left of something, they would pile on a whole other serving. There was: fried chicken, Sri Lankan chips, fried mushrooms, rice, green salad, some other kind of cucumber/tomato salad, and french fries. Plus, before this, they served muffins and sugar wafer cookies with orange juice! Then, after this main course, they brought out guava (Jack loves this) and papaya, which I was assuming was dessert. Nope. Then, they served ice cream. I can't believe they let me get away without eating ice cream! They wouldn't take no for anything else! The food was amazing, but Jeff and I both felt like they were going to have to roll us out the door!

The whole family was so patient with the children. Nilanta kept saying, "don't worry about the children. We know children! Let them jump and play!" We were happy to be in a home where they understand that children need to be active! The kids were jumping on the bed, walking on the furniture and watching movies while we were there. Their room is just that, a room. There's nowhere else to go, but I am always impressed with how they make the most out of what room they have! Everything had its place!

As you can see in this picture, Jane is spoiled. I try to deny it, but I just can't. She gets SO babied here. They were feeding her each spoonful of dinner and holding her juice for her. We'll let her enjoy it while she can!

We loved spending this evening in their home. They are one amazing family, and I feel like I have a lot to learn from them. They have SO much love, SO much patience, and they have come together in a way not every family would, given such a crisis. We're praying that they will be accepted sooner than expected and be able to start life anew!

Church was another marathon today, and we even missed two baptisms this morning! We did have two 8-year-olds from primary being baptized in the afternoon though, and it was an awesome time for them and their families! Alaina and Sunny are such sweet girls and it was fun to watch them share this day with each other!

Jane and Napa today. Lots of love with these two, as always!

After the baptism, or pretty much anything beyond the normal 3-hour block, there's usually some kind of refreshment, because people travel so far to get here! These refreshments turned into an amazing meal that fed pretty much everyone still left in the building! People just contribute wherever they're needed, and it's amazing to see everyone so willingly pull together to make an event run so smoothly. It was a great time for people who were at church for the first time, people who come every week, and everyone in between!

We were snapping a few pictures, and I had to post this one of some of my favorite women. This is me with Jamie Matthews, Jeanette Nielsen, and Alice Quan. I've been able to work with all of them in primary at one time or another and I've loved my contact with them. Amazing women!

So, needless to say, it's been a good week. I'm continually in awe of the people I meet here. As I look back on the people I met before I've been here, they too, are amazing people! I think I am really starting to learn to appreciate people's unique qualities and gifts. I know I've always been surrounded by exceptional people. Even looking back to my growing up years, I realize I've always been blessed to be around people who have been positive influences in my life. I think it's sticking out to me more and more lately. The things I'm experiencing here, I think many of them have gone on before in my life, but I just haven't fully appreciated them until now. Maybe I'm just finally growing up. Who knows? But, one thing is for sure, when we return to Utah, I'll be seeing things through a different set of eyes. Maybe not much has changed there, but I certainly have.

26 August 2008

Jiminy Cricket?

Depending on when you looked at this week's post, you may have noticed something a little strange. For a short time, the text

"...we were so touched to hear about his realization of how important Jesus Christ is in his life"


"...we were so touched to hear about his realization of how important Jiminy Cricket is in his life".

I figured a short explanation was in order for those of you who read it this way. Being the bad language abhorring geek that I am, I wrote a Grease Monkey script that replaces profane and vulgar language on every web page with less offensive words. I hadn't yet added blogger.com and thailand-hillmans.blogspot.com to the list of sites to exclude, so when I opened the post in the Blogger post editor to fix a typo, the above replacement was made.

I just wanted to be sure no one out there was under the impression that we have joined a bizzare religion that worships anthropomorphous, stridulating insects.

24 August 2008

A day of rest?

We were lucky to have dinner guests for Monday and Tuesday evening this week. Monday we had Elder Olson and Elder Yeats with their investigator, Susi. Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of them, but luckily, we got one today at church!

Tuesday, we had the Olesons, a family from Seattle we met at church on Sunday. They are on holiday here and other parts of Asia for a short time, and we thought it would be fun to have them over. They are from Seattle, but they are actually in the process of moving to Australia soon, so it was fun to hear about their travels and their anticipation of an overseas move. We're all for living abroad, if you haven't noticed. It's been nothing short of a life changing experience for us.

Jack and Scott loved playing their "instruments" to the CARS soundtrack, Jack's very favorite. They put on quite a show.

Another one of Jack's inventions. He loves to talk about working out and going to the gym, because he sees Jeff and I come and go, talk about our runs, etc. all the time. I'm sure he'll get quite a workout with these dumbbells!

Jack received a model airplane as a gift from his friend when she returned from her summer trip back home to Indonesia. He and Jeff jumped right on it and worked on it several nights during the week. Jack was always SO excited to sit with Jeff and work on it and talk about cool boy stuff. I loved watching them too. Thank goodness for a husband who has the patience for stuff like this! Jack was extremely proud afterward, and loved that it was his, so he could take care of it all on his own.

We were glad we took this picture when we did because about two minutes afterward, the rear wheel broke off, one of the the decals ripped, and the propeller fell off and Jack stepped on it. Oops. Good thing it was Jack's responsibility, and not mine, or I never would have heard the end of it! He was a good sport; he just laughed because he knows that "daddy can fix anything", a common phrase in our home.

A big part of our week was Jack starting school! It's been fun to read this week about a lot of children starting school all over. For some reason, this wasn't that big of a deal for us. In the States, Jack would be starting Kindergarten, which would be HUGE, but since he's already been going for a year, it just seemed like another year! We do have several changes though. He changed schools to another small one that is close by, and of course, he has a new teacher with all new friends. He now attends from 8:45am-2pm. Believe it or not, this is the shortest day for a five-year-old in Bangkok that I've ever heard of. Going from this to a half day when we move back will be a little weird, but like always, I'm sure he'll adjust like a champ.

Jack's been very excited to get to his new school, and I've been excited to get back into a routine! We're still easing back into Jack getting all his "stuff" done in the morning, but he's done really well so far, so we're right on track.

This is Jack's pose of choice. He's a little too cute to be all that frightening to me.

Jack was ready to go, lining up with no hesitation whatsoever. We met his new teacher a few weeks back and now that I've had more time to visit with him, I see this will be an adjustment for not only Jack, but me too! Jack's teacher last year was completely different than his this year. It's like this: Thai vs. British, Woman vs. Man, very formal vs. casual, and the biggest one, sugar coated vs. telling it how it is. I loved his teacher last year, but my biggest frustration was that I could never get out of her exactly what I needed to work on with Jack. She'd always say, "oh, he's doing great, don't worry about him", etc. I know Jack's bright, but also knew that he was the youngest in his class, had the least school experience, and didn't have private tutoring like others (besides me, of course!). Anyway, having Teacher Bill just tell me outright what Jack's strengths and weaknesses were was something new to me! It was nice to hear a realistic evaluation of where Jack stands, and nice to reaffirm I don't have anything to worry about, but as with all of us, there's always something to work on too! Jack's loved school so far and is quickly making lots of new friends!

Jane loves picking up/dropping off Jack at school because she gets to play on the playground each time. It's like going to a park twice a day; what kid wouldn't like that? She and I have enjoyed some time together, just the two of us, this week. One thing I didn't do enough of this summer was set aside one on one time with each of my kids. We were always all together, and by the end, I think Jack and Jane had had their fill of each other. Since Jack's started back to school, they've enjoyed playing together in the afternoons as much as they used to.

Jane's been extremely attached to Jeff lately. A couple days this week she'd wake up after he'd already gone and just cry for him. It breaks my heart, but I'm also so happy with how much she loves her daddy. During our "home" day yesterday, she and Jeff were enjoying the couch together. I'm telling you, a Daddy/Daughter bond is irreplacable!

Jane was being silly, so I told her to pretend she was asleep. This is the best she could do. I especially love her little hand. Did I say that she's kind of girly?

We were out to dinner the other night at Mos Burger, a Japanese burger place. We thought this was a fantastic display of how so many places are completely overstaffed in Thailand. It's hilarious. How many people in green aprons can YOU count? And if you can't tell, this place is not that busy.

Yesterday, Saturday, we were home almost all day. We rarely stay at home on a Saturday, or any day of the week for that matter, and I quickly realized, the way to a clean house is NOT by staying home! I was cleaning out closets, organizing outgrown clothes, and my favorite, getting rid of stuff all together! While all this was going on, the kids were playing all over the apartment. After Jane went down for her nap, I started tidying up, and, like I usually do when she's sleeping, I put all her stuff by her door.

I loved this shot because it shows so quickly a lot about my little girl right now. Here's what she had gotten out (that I hadn't had a chance to put away yet) in just one morning. Her dress from Grandma Hillman (her best twirly dress), her dress from Dipu and Napa (her frilliest, and she put this one on at least two different times), her Tinkerbell dress (her sparkliest), one pink crown, one Hello Kitty backpack filled with books, one Hello Kitty handbag with toy hairdryer inside, Elmer the Elephant book, one basket handbag with Hello Kitty amazingly fitting inside, one princess nightgown, one pink hanger, one pink leotard, one too-big pair of ballet slippers, one broken set of butterfly wings, one butterfly wand, and one used underwater camera that the lady at the photo shop gave her. Is my Jane a GIRL, or what? She changes from "pretty dress" to "pretty dress" several times within a day, but usually comes back to the yellow one, although with all the wear, it's falling apart! She's much more girly than I am, but I am loving watching her little personality develop. Two-year-olds are so fun!

On a side note to the moms: What kind of organizational tips do you have for things like this? Is this what you do when you clean up when your kids are sleeping? Do you have an alternative place to put stuff away? Or, do your homes just not get messy like mine?

So, after being home all day Saturday, we went for a swim, then decided to finally satisfy Jeff's craving for thin crust pizza he's had for a while (weird, I know, we're usually total "pan pizza" people). We walked down to an Italian place on our soi that we'd always seen the signs for, but because it was tucked back in, we'd never seen the actual place. As we were checking the menu outside, the greeter opened the door and welcomed the kids inside without us. Hmmmm... what are we supposed to do? So, after seeing the prices were normal, we decided we'd just eat there. They took us upstairs to this NICE area with candle lit tables, beautiful table settings, live music, and wine glasses (which thankfully, they quickly removed). So, a place like this would be great, but not with two kids. Looking back, I can't believe they even let us in! We looked like such slobs, still wet from swimming and such, and we have TWO CHILDREN! I wished they wouldn't have let us in! The kids immediately started a game of "hide and seek" under the tables until I thought I was going to have a heart attack imagining the dinnerware all crashing to the ground from Jane pulling on the table cloth. Anyway, to make a long story short, we ended up getting our pizzas "take away", and we decided to eat them on the roof garden of our building. It ended up being a nice meal in a quiet, non-breakable setting. Much better! And the view was fantastic (I wish I would have taken a picture of it)!

I mentioned last week that we had Dipu make us a few things this week, one of which was a new suit for Jeff. Can I just say that a custom suit is a whole new experience? I think this is the first suit that has really FIT him! Jeff was looking extra SHARP today (which you may or may not be able to tell in this picture because Jeff has never been one to do a serious pose!), and turned into a walking advertisement for Dipu after getting so many compliments. Who knew people would notice so much? We've been extremely happy with Dipu's business and we are feeling like he has a bright future!

Our Sundays are pretty busy here. People in our ward travel from quite far every Sunday to get to our church, so generally, everything is done on Sundays. At least the regular stuff. We left for church this morning at 8am and got home at 4pm. It makes for a long day, especially for the kids! Usually, an hour before church starts (11am), there are a lot of families in the building, so while Alice and I are usually setting up the Primary room stuff, the kids are helping me, or just playing. I was loving this scene of these kids reading all together while I was getting things organized. This is Patrick, Emily, Jack, Abbie and Midu. You may remember that I went to the airport a few months back to see off my dear friends, George and Mery, who were moving to Holland. I met Abbie and Midu's family that evening and was so happy to see them at church today! Abbie and Jack especially hit it off and five minutes after meeting, they were inseparable. Literally. I don't think Jack took his arm off her shoulders, or his hand away from hers until they absolutely had to for Sacrament meeting. Then, in Primary, Jack has never sat so reverently! Abbie had an amazing calming influence on him, and I was so pleased about it. What a darling pair they were, and I'm really hoping they'll be back next week!

I said earlier that Monday we had the missionaries and Susi over for dinner. This was actually the first time I'd met Susi, but Jeff has been teaching him with the missionaries for several weeks now. They usually meet in the park near Jeff's work, but on Monday, they wanted to watch the Restoration movie, so they came to our house. We had a nice dinner and a nice Family Home Evening where we discussed the restoration of the gospel and watched the video. We always love having these sweet Elders over (and love how they listen as Jack unloads all sorts of random animal and volcano trivia on his new audience), and we all fell quickly in love with Susi from Sri Lanka. We were thrilled to learn that Susi had decided to be baptized on Sunday. The next night, the Elders called and said that Susi had chosen Jeff to baptize him.

This turned out to be a memorable day for all of us. Jeff was honored that Susi would choose him to be a part of his special day, and I loved that Jack, Jane, and I could witness Susi make such an important decision in his life. He bore his testimony afterward and we were so touched to hear about his realization of how important Jesus Christ is in his life. What a wonderful example he is to all of us. We're really looking forward to getting to know Susi better in the months to come!

So ends another long, tiring, and wonderful Sabbath day. Sunday is always my most exhausting day of the week, but always such a nice way to start/end the week! Hope you had an equally exciting and fun-filled week. Lots of love from Bangkok.

18 August 2008

Word Girl and Super Why

When we were visiting Utah in April, Jack watched PBS one morning with his cousins at Mimi and Papa's house. He kept talking about "Super Why" (and singing the theme song over and over... and over), who I have since learned is a PBS super hero named Wyatt who's super power is that he is a super reader! Very cool for my boy who LOVES to read. Since then, we finally got around to looking up pbskids.com to find out more about this super reader. There are all kinds of little games, show excerpts and such, that Jack loves. One of which is Word Girl. She's a super hero who uses her power of words to saves the day, or something like that. In her comic-strip type segments she uses a big word and then gives the definition, usually to the villain who is obviously not smart enough to know the meaning. If he was smart, he wouldn't be a villain, right? So, Jack's started to slip some of these new words into our every day conversations. He'll say, "Mom, sometimes I feel kind of timid. That means quiet and shy." He was telling me what "vicious" meant the other day too. This shouldn't really surprise me because I know (and maybe I'm a little biased), that Jack is quite bright for his age, but it is funny to hear him saying words that are not normal for a 5 year old. The other day, he and I were walking home with a lot of groceries, and they were getting heavy. He was carrying a bag of toilet paper that was pretty awkward. We were casually talking about our morning and our plans for the afternoon when he said, "Mom, this bag is getting kind of cumbersome".

17 August 2008

Mother's Day

We had a fantastic week that pretty much centered around two main things. The first being Mother's Day. In Thailand, Mother's Day is celebrated on the Queen's birthday, which is August 12th. So, it came on a Tuesday and everything shuts down, and almost everyone has work off. Yay for Jeff staying home! Although, we were glad that not everyone had work off, or we wouldn't have been able to get a taxi to our Mother's Day celebration at our church!

I was so happy that the ward planned an activity in honor of Mother's Day, because it seems like even thought we live in Thailand, we usually end up celebrating holidays on the Western schedule because so few members of our ward are actually Thai. Our ward is pretty much everyone in Thailand (literally, our boundaries include the entire country) who doesn't speak Thai, because all the Thai wards meet together all over the city! So, we have people from Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa, Congo, Philippines, Canada, America, Taiwan, Korea, France, China, Germany, Sweden, and probably many more I can't think of. I think it is nice that even though very few of us are from Thailand, we celebrate and honor their traditions because we LIVE here! This is our world right now, so of course we should learn about the traditions!

Tuesday morning, many of us met at the church to prepare, set up, and Jack's favorite... dig holes. Part of the celebration was planting 50 Jasmine trees all over the church yard. The guys spent a good portion that morning digging all the holes, and the kids were more than happy to help! This is Jack and Jane with Ishwari, from Nepal.

Everyone started arriving and the kitchen was busy, busy! I love this picture of the sisters all happy with their work! From the left is Kim Hofheins, Camilla (with her back turned), Excelcia, Mary Grace, Mendy, and (in purple) Napa. I know I've said how much I love our ward here, but honestly, this activity made me really realize what a hole there will be in my heart when we have to say goodbye to everyone. How could you not love these women?

Jane was loving playing ping-pong with her boyfriend, Dipu. We found out good news about Napa and Dipu this week: they got their wedding license! We were hoping we wouldn't be gone when they got around to having the celebration, but it's looking like it will be in a month or two, so we are thrilled we get to be around for the happy event! They've been SO good to our Jack and Jane, we hope this will present some way that we can repay them for all they've done for us. How can you possibly repay people who love your children so much?

I had to take a picture of the fruit/veggie table because it all looked so beautiful! There's so much variety with fruits here. I'll particularly miss the mangos and pineapple, and for SO cheap. It still seems a little unbelievable that you can get an entire pineapple for about 40 cents!

Jack was the first child there, since we were there early to set up, so he got to be the example to all the other children on how to pay respect to his mother on Mother's day. He took the flower, kneeled on the ground in a wai, brought the flower to me and kneeled in my lap while I got to tell him how much I love him and how absolutely handsome he is. Okay, you're probably supposed to say other things, but he really is handsome! He was a great sport to demonstrate several times for everyone!

This is the Bunker family respecting their mother, who somehow didn't quite get in the picture! They are such a great family who've been an anchor to this ward as long as we've been here and long before.

All the children and fathers wrapped up their jasmine tree and brought it to the mothers so we could plant it together with a little sign next to it so the children could see its progress every week. Jack was completely surprised today that it looked the same as it did on Tuesday! Maybe we should have explained that better!

This is us attempting a picture before going out to plant. Jane was a little excited, despite the cold that started that day for her. Poor kid. Luckily, she had many people who wanted to spoil her with attention this day!

Don and Nan (the Newlyweds!) were in charge of the entire activity and did an amazing job! Nan had every little detail planned out, and Don was working from early morning until late afternoon taking care of all the running around, setting up, and putting together. They really made a great team, and I felt the entire activity was an enormous success!

Just another picture of people I love here. From the back left: Nan, Mendy, Excelsia, (front row) Carmella, Catherine, Jeanene, Wendy, and Bishop Anderson. I honestly wished that I could have taken pictures of everyone and everything. I just don't want to forget these sweet brothers and sisters of mine.

Nan had everyone decorate these papers with things that reminded them of their mothers. I wish I could tell you everone's name in this picture, but there are several I don't know. Overall, I was just SO impressed by how many people were there. Everyone had an amazing meal, fun with the activities, and lots and lots of visiting! It was a fantastic way to spend Thai Mother's Day!

Have you ever noticed how many things are "made in Thailand"? Ever since I found out we were moving here, I started to notice that a LOT of our clothes are made in Thailand. I thought, "great, now I can start getting them much cheaper because I won't be paying for the export stuff". Well, I'm pretty cheap anyway, so thinking I was going to get things cheaper, was a pretty tall order. Occasionally, I'll find good brands of clothing that are made in Thailand, Vietnam, or Cambodia in the markets. But, I've never found "the source". Come to find out, normal people don't ever get to "the source", but I felt like this was pretty close. This "made in Thailand" fair was just that, all the companies who have factories in Thailand, selling their products at discount prices. I was in heaven.

Jeff and I have been wanting to do some furniture shopping, and we heard these fairs are the place to go, so this is pretty much how I convinced him to join me for a FUN day of shopping! Okay, so it wasn't as fun for everyone else as it was for me, but Jeff admitted it turned out to be a lot better than he was expecting. He was SUCH a good sport because honestly, this is pretty close to his worst nightmare!

I could have stayed there ALL day. It was gigantic, the sales were incredible, and if you need a break, there's plenty of food and a place you can get a foot massage. What more could you ask for? We went through the furniture isles, but honestly weren't finding anything, but the kids sure had fun! I wanted to take these fun bean bag chairs home with me, Jane loved them so much. I probably should have just let them relax here while I did some rounds on my own!

Have you seen these vibrating platforms that you stand on that are supposed to make you drop the pounds in no time? My kids find them everywhere and love to try them out. I can't believe how nice the sales people are about letting them try them all out. They were vibrating all over, and singing and humming until they couldn't anymore because they were laughing so hard. This isn't much of an action shot, but the moment made all that furniture shopping worth it.

So, we ended up with NO furniture, but we did end up with loads of wooden toys (my favorite) for down the road, dresses for Jane that I am going to have to hide unless I want her to try them all on everyday, AND we found a darling doll house for Jane, which is what we were really hoping for. I never thought I'd enjoy girl toys as much as I did boys (tools, trucks, ropes, trains, etc), but I can't wait to get this little house set up! I still have one whole month before I can show her and it's killing me! We were feeling a little ragged after about 6 hours, and were lucky to get a nice taxi driver home who was patient with all our stuff! I totally felt like the overindulgent westerner, but when the bargains are good, why wait?

Other random parts of our week...

Occasionally, I'll catch Jane daydreaming out her window. I think her view is pretty spectacular, although you can't see it all in this photo. I love to look at it too. There's so much to see in the city!

Jack loves this place where you can get toast with a topping on it. Jack always wants this orange stuff that we don't even really know what it is, but he loves it! Jeff's least favorite food is anything having to do with soggy bread, so he won't touch the stuff, but I love just the strawberry topping. Bread is different here, but this bread is awesome!

People watching their Olympic Thai boxer on the giant screen outside of one of the malls.
We've only been able to watch bits and pieces of the Olympics online and it's broken my heart. I love watching the games and was all excited about it, until I realized the broadcasting would be extremely limited, and only in Thai. Very disappointing!

We went to Dipu's shop this week to get a new orchestra dress made for me and a new suit for Jeff. We're so proud of Dipu for taking the risk to start a business. Custom clothing is extremely common here (and sometimes the only option for us "western size" girls), and definitely one things tourists take advantage of when they come. We've done very little of it, but are hoping we can go home with a few things that we love, from someone we love! This is Jack relaxing after their "chair wars" while were getting our measurements done.

Jane's always thrilled to go to Dipu's shop. I was touched when we showed up unannounced earlier in the week to see that Dipu had pictures of Jane hanging up in his shop. Iit's hard for me to comprehend how people we've met in just the last year, can sometimes seem so much like family.

I apologize if this post seems thrown together! It's been an exhausting Sunday and with Jane not feeling too well, it's taken its toll on all of us. We're exhausted, so I'm going to bed and looking forward to starting another fun week!