10 August 2008

Sayonara, Kazuya!

This was another week of goodbyes. I know it comes with the territory here, but it sure doesn't make it any easier. We crammed in all the playtime with Kazuya we could, which was difficult considering he had summer school every day this week!

Jack went over to play at his house on Monday afternoon (he lives only about 500 meters away, so it's super easy!), then I invited Kazuya to come swimming with US on Wednesday. I've been realizing lately what a blessing it's been that my kids love the water here. It's such a fun activity for us to do together year round, and everyone here swims! Every time we go to a pool, kids of all ages are really SWIMMING! Not just playing around in the shallow end. They all wear goggles, sometimes swim caps, and are diving down, swimming laps, or anything. Most five year olds here swim better than I do. Anyway, it was a fun afternoon and Jack and Kazuya swam until they were exhausted! Trying to get these boys to look at me for a picture was next to impossible. They are SO silly together.

Backing up a day, on Tuesday, I took the kids to the Children's Meuseum. Before Jack was in school, we went all the time, but we really hadn't gone since last summer, so this was a treat. We took the train to the end of the line, then we walked through the park to get there. As we were walking through this gorgeous park, immediately a woman spotted me and approached me selling bird and fish food. My initial reaction is to always say no, but honestly, how much money could this woman possibly make in a day selling this stuff for ~50 cents? Plus, here, they don't approach the parents so much as they just start shoving things in the kids hands hoping they'll take off with it and we'll just buy it to minimize the hassle. I despise that approach, but am trying to remember the "mai ben rai" attitude here and not let it get to me. I decided to just do it.

After we bought it and started towards the lake, we noticed there were NO fish, and NO birds. We finally found two birds on the other side of the lake, so Jack ran over there. As soon as he started tossing bread crusts to them, FLOCKS started flying in. It was amazing. I wished I'd thought to take pictures sooner. This was after about 1/3 of them were already there. They surrounded us quickly and Jane got to practice her "go away, birds" a LOT. She's not in love with birds when they're right by her toes. Anyway, it was an exciting few minutes for the kids, although I don't think there was one fish in that lake. The next time a lady approached us and started shoving more food in Jack's hands, I stood firm and made Jack give it back so we could move on with our day!

When we got to the museum, we discovered they had lots of changes and a whole new Disney Learning exhibit we hadn't seen yet. We stared off looking at a fun water play area, until Jack dragged me out saying, "Mom, let's go. I want to learn about something. This isn't learning!" Where does this kid come from? We found the Disney stuff and Jack quickly found Belle's library and plopped down with any English books he could find, and Jane discovered all kinds of fun, girly things. She loves Belle, yet has never seen the movie. Nowadays, you don't have to have seen the movies to know all the characters!

They had a whole shelf of "glass slippers" to try on, and seeing as we were the ONLY kids there for a long time, Jane wore them all over the exhibit. She felt so pretty.

They pretty much had a section for all the major Disney princesses and had done the whole place up to look like a big, pink, castle. It was worn, but still a lot of fun to see new things and have a lot of it to ourselves! We found another new area in another building. It was a HUGE room that they had cleared out, except for one corner that had "house" stuff in it (a market, doctor's office, kitchen area, etc.), and the other corner had the coolest building stuff in it. I was totally worn out when we entered this room, but who could stop them when they had both found their favorite things?

Jane played with this doll house FOREVER! She loves doors and windows, and everything on this house moved. She put stuff in, out, on, and rearranged everything countless times. I hated to take her away from it. So, I've started my search for the perfect, simple, wooden doll house for her for a future date. If anyone has any tips, let me know!

Jack would have played with these things for MUCH longer, except the employees were packing it all up after all the school kids left. We made some pretty cool stuff, and I'm now kicking myself for not remembering the name of it. Anyone seen this stuff before?

Friday, we went over to say one last goodbye to Kazuya and his mother, Taka. I was thinking that Taka was crazy to invite us all over two hours before they left for the airport, but after saying goodbye, I could see that she was just really having a hard time leaving. They've been here for six years and Taka does not want to go back to Japan. Not that she doesn't like Japan, but she was one of those who was really well adjusted to expat life here. It suited her well, and she was comfortable with it. I've felt like some changes will be hard to make after only being here for two years, but she's been here much longer. I'm sure she'll love being "home" and it will start feeling like it after not too long.

Taka (on the right, unfortunately, it's NOT a good picture of her!) was one of the first mothers in Jack's class this last year to befriend me. She and Sukma (left) have been great friends for the last year, and the children get along so well. Taka was always SO good to plan play dates for several of the children at her home, and was always super generous with her car/driver, giving me rides home from dropping Jack off, or even just seeing me on the street walking and picking me up. Just a sweet woman who is very selfless and kind. We'll miss her, and Jack's already missing Kazuya. I have hopes that someday they'll run into each other again. It could happen! (Don't I look like a giant next to these two? I was even crouching down! They are tiny!)

The good part about this goodbye visit was that we got to see Sukma, Sasha, and Brandon for the first time since they got back from their holiday in Indonesia. Sasha started at her new school, and Brandon will probably start soon too, so we're hoping they can fit us in there somewhere before WE go! Even though it had been a month, Jane and Brandon picked right up where they left off... best friends! What's better than a big apartment with a ton of toys? A big apartment with NO toys! Everything was packed, so the kids enjoyed all the empty closets and cupboards and had a great time playing with absolutely nothing!

Saturday was a good day. We ate lunch at a DELICIOUS Mexican place that we love, and then I was off to a meeting for Primary leaders in our stake, which was held at the brand new building the Church just renovated not too far from our apartment. We've passed this building a lot, but never gone in, so it was fun to see inside. It's nice to see a little growth in Thailand with projects like this. I only wish this building was the one that OUR ward got to attend!

So, the Primary leader meeting was unlike anything I'd ever attended before. It was all in Thai, besides one short presentation from one Stake leader from Sweden/America which she used a translator for. I fully intended to not understand much of this meeting, but luckily a sweet sister sat next to me and translated into my ear for most of it. I remember being in a meeting the first time here and hearing lots of talking during the lesson. I was thinking it was kind of rude for people to constantly be talking in the back while the teacher was presenting, but chalked it up to a cultural difference. Then, I realized that these people were not talking, they were translating. If you haven't been exposed to it before, you just don't think of it I guess! Or, at least I'd like to think I'm not the only one who would have had to think about it for a minute. Well, thank goodness for whispers of translation. I certainly got more out of it with a translator, than without. Although my head was spinning after a while of trying to get what I can from the Thai, but listening to the translator at the same time. I was exhausted, I can't imagine what this sweet sister was feeling after talking for almost two hours straight!

So, I've been practicing a little this week. Practicing what, you may ask? Well, I used to play the violin, and I'm trying to play it again. My friend's husband is a very successful conductor around the world, and he's doing a concert here this month. His "people" called me and are arranging for me to play in it. I told him I was not in shape, but he seemed to still want me. I'm thinking it's for my foreign face more than anything, but I'll take it. It's motivation, and that's definitely what I need if I ever want to play with the Orchestra at Temple Square when I get back! So, what's surprised me with practicing again after so long is how I can actually get SORE from my violin. I run and lift regularly, and playing the violin made me SORE! Does that seem weird? So, not only am I feeling out of shape musically, but physically more than I have in a while! For all of Brother Barrus' other students who read this (all 4 of you, I think?), I thought of you when I knew I should have been doing my arm flapping exercises that I'm sure you all do every day, right?

Have a great week.


Bart said...

You have so many friends there! I'm always impressed with how outgoing and friendly you guys must be to have made so many friends. That's certainly the way to go.

Good luck with the violin practicing!

karalynstrings said...

Well Mindy, you must be doing better than me, because I can't remember the last time I did the arm flapping exercises. I do them with students who are really stiff, but that's about it. I am sure you will have no problem ressurecting the violin and playing it beautifully when the time comes. The Lord will bless you because your priorities have been in place. You are amazing. I can't wait to see you again - whenever that will be...

Andrew & Vanessa and kids said...

Honestly, arm exercises? I haven't done them ONCE since I left Dr. Barrus' class at Ricks. I guess I've got some catching up to do. I've never seen those toys, but check out "Magna Tiles". We gave them to John for his birthday, and all the kids LOVE them! Worth the money. Love you.

Joanna said...

OF COURSE I do my arm-flapping every day!!! I've got to stay in shape for all the diaper-changing and sword-fighting I do all day!

Bevany said...

Seriously, you are an amazing violinist. I'm sure you will have no problem getting in shape. My problem when I play is the tips of my fingers. They hurt for days. And I don't even know what arm flapping exercises are, so I am way out of your league. Cute pictures as always. The Children's Museum looks amazing.