28 September 2008

So long, farwell...

Like I say almost every Sunday night (my usual blogging evening), I'M EXHAUSTED!  Today was our Primary program, and I'm happy to say it went off without a hitch.  Even our kids who don't speak English, said their parts well, and everyone sang and were even reverent!  One of my favorite 8 year olds stood up the the pulpit and instead of saying what he'd rehearsed, bore his testimony beginning with "My dear brothers and sisters...".  It was awesome, and I've learned so much being a part of it this year!  Hopefully, it won't be my last.

So, we are going out of town this week, and now that this program is over, I can finally start concentrating on our trip!  I was an idiot and volunteered to host Jane's Monday group tomorrow because I forgot we were leaving early Tuesday morning.  (what kind of person forgets they're going on vacation?  Not a smart one!).  I'm sure playgroup will be fun, then hopefully I'll have some time to actually figure out exactly what we want to DO while we are in Singapore and Malaysia!  We're sure to have a few fun pictures to share when we return.  Until then... enjoy your week.  Love from all of us.

24 September 2008

Jane is THREE!

Jane had a wonderful birthday! Thank you to everyone who called, commented, emailed, and such. She loved every bit of it. Her face LIGHTS up when she hears someone sing "Happy Birthday" to her. After getting the first glimpse of her cake Monday morning, she just kept talking about how everyone would sing "Happy Birthday to Jane". She peeked in the fridge maybe a dozen times just to bask in the anticipation of the evening.

I was hesitant to plan anything like a party for Jane because I was worried it would completely overwhelm her. In Thailand, she gets SO much attention everywhere we go. Sometimes she can tune it out (people walking by will clap, whistle, yell, or touch her face or hair and it hardly phases her anymore), but sometimes it's overwhelming and I end up holding her nuzzling into my neck until we are in the clear. I didn't know how she would do with ALL the attention on her, but I'm happy to say it was a complete success! We kept the numbers VERY small, and just invited a few of her favorite people (I wish we could have invited them all!), and she was glowing the entire evening. We invited Ashly, Vibushen, Dipu, Napa, and Nan over for a simple evening of pizza (Jane's favorite) and cake.

Jack and Jane were so excited about everyone coming over. I was amazed the cake didn't even have candies missing until it was time to eat! I did NOT expect that.

Some days I try to deny that my daughter loves princess stuff. We even held out with using the "P" word for a while, trying to delay the exposure. I just don't like all the commercialization of it. Not too long ago, Jack started calling her "princess" and the truth is... she loves it. So we decided to give in, and embrace it by doing a castle cake (plus, this was just a really FUN cake to make!) and letting her be the princess of the day, as if she isn't every day!

Jack was even getting into the theme... what a good brother!

Jane's been close with Ashly for a year or so now. She adores him, and he always takes really good care of her at church when I am in meetings and such. He and Vibushen arrived with toys and loads of treat to spoil Jane and Jack. They both were loving it!

Jane opened this super-frilly dress and immediately started stripping down. She pranced around the house from one loved one to another, peaking in every mirror in sight. My goodness, this girl is spoiled. I think she got at least 1,000 hugs and kisses that night. We were so glad Dipu was feeling good enough to be there, although I don't know if we could have made him stay away! He was in the hospital with shingles just a couple of weeks ago, poor guy. We're glad he's doing much better!

Napa arrived with a puppy that dances and sings. Jane was dancing and flapping her ears all over the place (although this picture doesn't show that for some reason!), and as you can see, everyone was getting a pretty big kick out of it. I don't think there's ever been a party for a three year old where everyone is SO exclusively focusing on the three year old! Even our dinner conversation was mostly all about Jane.

The BIG moment...

Jack was finding himself pretty attached to Napa this night. I was so happy he could enjoy himself so much, even with the focus mostly on Jane. Napa made Jane a scrapbook with all the pictures of her they'd taken over the last year and many love notes for Jane when she's older. It is such a treasure, and with something like that, I can't imagine Jane ever forgetting them!

At one point, Jane invited Napa and Nan into the play room and didn't want them to leave. She loves having company, and by the end of the evening, she and Jack were just figuring out where everyone could sleep for the night, so no one had to go home.

Here's the whole crew: Jeff and myself, Nan, Dipu, Jane, Napa, Ashly, and Vibushen. We were so happy these special people would spend their evening with us. They truly have made Jane's experience in Thailand incredible. How could she not have good memories when she's been SO loved by so many? We love you guys!

One last one from that day... we were sad that Preeya couldn't join us for the evening. She had plans, but I know that Jane would also have loved to have her there. She loves showing Preeya all her fun dresses and toys, and calls out her name when we walk in the house many days, even when she's only here very little. Preeya was sweet to remember Jane's birthday and brought her a couple of fun gifts that suited Jane PERFECTLY!

As a family, we decided to do one of Jane's favorite things once again... swimming. We had a little waterpark recommended to us that we thought we'd try out over the weekend. Can you tell Jane was a little bit excited to get out there?

It was almost empty, cheap, and not too sunny. It made for a nice morning and fun family time!

This is pretty much how they are the entire time we're in the pool. They are fish, and I love it!

We had a fun birthday morning where we finally could give Jane her doll house we've been waiting for! She loved it, and surprisingly, so did Jack!

I love the expression on her face in this.

Jane and Jack feeding their "babies" with the bottles Jack gave Jane.

We had a nice, relaxed day and met Jeff in the park after work for a ride in the paddle boats. Jane was too young to do this for Jack's 4th birthday, so this time she was excited to get on! Jeff peddled, and Jane fed the fish!

Jack and I had fun together, and Jack even peddled some of the time. I felt like I was riding Jane's tricycle the whole time. I don't think they were built for us tall foreigners!

I thought this view was nice. The building on the left with the red/white symbol is Jeff's office. He's on the 32nd floor, and because of that he's actually felt earthquakes that I didn't feel at home on our 15th floor. Interesting.

A few fun facts about my Jane... she NEVER stays in the same clothes once we get into the house. She immediately changes from dress to dress. Today, in just a few hours, she's been through 6 different outfits (some of them 2x!).

She has developed an interesting way of speaking lately. Her "R" sound has changed after being around other children with accents. Plus, right now she always says her words with a hard "T" sound, like in water, pretty, mountain, or caterpillar. She's even started to say a hard "T" for "D" sounds, like Da-tee (daddy), or shoul-ter (shoulder).

She has a thing with doors, cupboards, and drawers. She will always close them, even if she has to walk out of her way to do it. Sometimes, she'll walk into the kitchen to tell me something and close all the cupboards I'm working on without even realizing it. She often has to close the doors and turn off the lights herself before bedtime. If I do it, she has to re-do it. (To my dad and any other therapists out there, is this something I need to worry about???)

Almost anything can be made exciting if you say it with your voice raised up a couple octaves.

When I sing to her at night, I always have to end with "Twinkle".

She loves sticky rice, chicken, spaghetti, pizza, and tuna fish.

She always sleeps with "pink", her favorite blanket. She understands surprisingly well when we have to tell her that "pink is dirty", and she picks another favorite.

Jane's been resisting growing up in her own ways. She still prefers to do #2 in a diaper, which after a year, we're still working on. Slowly but surely! Also, she still prefers to sleep in her crib over her big girl bed (although she does let her dolls sleep in it). I'm not so worried about this one. After all, who wants to mess with a girl who sleeps 12-13 uninterrupted hours and wakes up happy? I hope this resistance to grow up will reappear when she's about 13.

She loves books. Her current favorites are Are you my Mother? and Where the Wild Things Are.

She loves Diego and Dora, and frequently talks about Leatherback sea turtles and Humpback whales.

We love our little Jane. I never knew how I would be as a mother to a girl, but I'm confident that girls are FUN. I think I'd even take another one!

Happy Birthday Jane!

23 September 2008

A little busy...

Hey all, we're still here. We are just a little busy celebrating our BIG 3 year old! Can you believe my baby is THREE? We've had a fun weekend, a fabulous party last night and now on her ACTUAL birthday, we are taking it a little easy. I'll update when I get a minute, as of now, I'm just enjoying my girl.

14 September 2008

"Those aren't PRETTY!"

So, from last week... when Dushan and his family came over, Jack and Jane were overjoyed! I had tried to convince Nilantha to bring everyone, but he said he couldn't for some reason, so it was extra exciting that they had a playmate while we worked on their confusing paperwork. They played for a long time, then they wanted to watch a movie. Jane would shriek every few minutes and say, "I'm scared!" (when it was SO not scary) and run into Dushan's arms. Should this make me nervous for the future? I don't know who was loving the attention more, Jane or Dushan. He took good care of her!

You may have noticed, we have had a LOT of baptisms at our church lately. Several every week actually. It's pretty exciting for everyone and we've LOVED getting to know some of these sweet people who are quickly becoming family. Last week, a family was baptized that I met a few months ago when I went to see my friends, George and Mery, off when they moved to Holland. It's funny that from my evening with them, I met several families that now are regular people we see and LOVE. This is Alfred and his family with Bishop Anderson and the Elders. (I have to apologize for the picture quality, I totally forgot to edit them and am too exhausted to fix them now!). I don't know if you've noticed, but very few Sri Lankans smile in pictures. I haven't figured it out yet.

Anyway, to give you an idea of how our Sundays go lately, we generally show up two to three hours before church starts for any number of things. Today it was a baptism, and to prepare for the Primary Program rehearsal. Last Sunday, it was for a Baptism and Jeff had a meeting. Then, we have our three hours of meetings, then, like today, there was a baptism afterward with a small feast for everyone still in the building. It's nice to spend most of Sunday with our ward, because we really only get to see most people this one day a week. Everyone kind of hangs around, visits, has meetings, interviews, prepares for lessons, etc. at the church. Lucky for us, this brings a LOT of people to play with our kids! One brother said to me last week, "Jane is always being held!", and he's right. She's always got someone holding her, chasing her, and playing with her. In the middle of getting the things done that I need to, I often don't know exactly where my children are in the building, but I DO know they are with someone who will give them all the attention they need! Anyway, after the baptism last week, after things had settled some, I caught this picture and thought it was really sweet. This is Elder Davis (and Elder Ito in the background) with Alfred and his son, who were just baptized. Alfred and his son don't know how to tie a tie yet, so the Elders were teaching and helping them get ready for church after their baptismal service. We just love our missionaries, and I love to watch them love the people they teach.

With all this time in the building, there's plenty of time for the kids to play, especially when there's not enough room for everyone to be at the baptism. Jack found a room full of the Bunker family, and of course, just joined right in, like he always does with big families. I always think that he should have been my third child, not my first. This kid needs siblings! Christopher was sweet to read him a book and keep him completely entertained.

While I'm talking about church, I'll post a few pictures from today. This is Suvee, Vibushen, and Ashly. Everyone was eating and visiting, and we were especially excited to learn that Ashly and Vibushen got the week they'll be leaving for Canada, and we were relieved to realize we would be in town to see them off! They'll be traveling with one individual from Sri Lanka and a family from Nepal. All going to Canada.

It's been so fun to watch Jane's little nursery class really start to connect in the last little while. They've all been growing up together for the last year and they're finally starting to really appreciate each other and get REALLY excited to be together each Sunday. Jane and Sachina were pretending to be puppies (one of Jane's favorite games). Sachina's family is the Nepalese family going to Canada. It will be sad to say goodbye to so many, but we are SO happy that they are moving on with their lives!

I didn't realize I got so many of these two together, but they were having so much fun playing with everyone. This is Aloy, who is often pursuing Jane, trying to win her over amongst many others. He's always got this BIG grin on his face that brightens my day.

This post is backwards, as it's pretty clear the kids aren't so worn at this point! We left this morning at 10am and returned at 6:30pm, exhausted but always happy. If you're wondering about Jane's bandaid, here's the answer that I gave a LOT today... nothing happend to her forehead, she just really wanted a bandaid right THERE. Jane having so many admirers is great, but if she's in anything less than perfect condition, I have to explain myself to everyone! I would never really complain about so many people loving my child, but it is funny.

I said we generally only see our ward members on Sunday that don't live close by, but this week we invited Ashly and Vibushen over for dinner. It took them 2 1/2 hours to get here, even though it only took them about 20 minutes to get home. Does that give you an idea of Bangkok traffic? But, when they were here, we were loving it, and grateful for their sacrifice to come over. We ate dinner, and while we cleaned up they watched a few minutes of Animal Planet (Jack's favorite).

Then, we introduced them to UNO. They had never heard of it, and seemed a little unsure at first, but by the end, they knew exactly what they were doing and Vibushen won by a mile! It was a little confusing to start with UNO Attack, but Jane just loves to push that button, so we were all entertained. Oh, how we love these brothers! Now that we know what city they will be in, we're mentally trying to figure out how we can go and visit them once they get settled and we get back to the States! Luckily, they'll be in the same city as another family who left last year, so we can all catch up together. I think I automatically thought that once we leave here, we say goodbye forever to just about everyone, but now seeing that we have a good chance of keeping in touch with many, the future seems much brighter!

Every Friday morning, I take Jane to a playgroup for kids around her age. Many are younger, but this little Ashley who just joined is really close to Jane's age and they have hit it off so well! They laugh and giggle, and both love playing dress ups. I love watching Jane really connect with kids, which brings out a really fun part of her personality.

A few of the moms from this playgroup are trying to put together an organized playgroup/preschool on Mondays and you wouldn't believe how hard it is to find kids Jane's age who aren't in school! I've lived here for almost two years, and I still just cannot get used to the idea of putting my baby in school so young! But, it's completely the norm for a BIG part of the world, and in a way, I admire people who just jump right in to whatever culture they're currently living in. "When in Rome..." right? With this aspect, I haven't done so well. I have to explain, sometimes several times a day, why Jane is with me and not in school. People say, "you care for the children by yourself?". It's a different world!

Jane LOVES her Daddy. She asks for him first thing in the morning, and even when he's not home to put her to bed, she will ask for him and his special "Little Janie" song he made up for her. She has to hug and kiss him several different times in the morning when he goes, and often walks him to the elevator in her pajamas. This day she insisted on wearing "purple pretty dress" (She rotates between yellow, purple, and blue pretty dresses, but they're always "pretty dress") to take Jack to school and was twirling around for Jeff before saying goodbye. She must have felt very pretty since she insisted I get the camera out, even when it was nowhere in sight!

The other day, I bought some things for her at a market, so I was going through her "to grow into" box. She was loving to try on dresses, skirts, and frilly shirts, but when I asked her to try on a pair of jeans she sternly said, "Mom, I don't want to try those on, those aren't PRETTY!". How did I get such a girl? I explained to her what jeans were and told her they would keep her warm when she played in the snow, and she suddenly thought they were really cool. She then explained to me her new found knowledge that "these are called JEANS, Mom". She's going to have a LOT to learn when we move back to Utah! Luckily, she adjusts quite well, so I am sure it will be all FUN as she discovers all the new things that will come with the big move!

07 September 2008

So blessed.

We spent a lot of time this week doing very normal things. School, running errands, swimming, playdates, church stuff and so on. It was a good week, but I didn't take any pictures! Okay, I did take a couple, but I think I'll just tack them onto next week's post.

The highlight of my week was having Nilantha's family (same family that fed us last Saturday night) come over so I could help them with some of their paper work for their big move to Canada. I was so happy that they knew they could ask for my help, and loved every minute they were in our home. Jeff had a work party, so it was just me, the kids, and Nilantha with his daughter, Nilanthi, and Dushan, the 8 year old. Jack, Jane and Dushan played steadily for nearly 4 hours without any problems, while the rest of us worked on the paper work.

Going through this family's history and the events of their flee to Thailand is so humbling. They had several successful businesses in Sri Lanka and have had to leave it all for the safety of their family. It's just something I'd never even thought of before I moved here. In the last year, I've met countless people in this type of situation. Yet, they smile constantly, have a wonderful outlook on life, and are so genuine in their love for each other. As much as we love to try and serve these sweet families in one way or another, we always feel like we are getting MUCH more than we could ever give.

I've also been very touched this week by watching what is happening in India and Nepal right now. I was watching CNN at the gym on Monday and almost lost it as I saw these sweet people (who look so much like many of our friends here) having to fight to get on a raft to be taken to safety. I've never had to fight for my life. I've always felt safe and my children have never been in any danger. After seeing things like this, I wonder, "does it really matter if I have artwork on all my walls? Do I really need to have matching linens on each bed? Do I really need to worry about if my shoes always match just right?" Silly questions that have actually seemed to matter at one point, just don't seem as important anymore. Knowing that people are struggling to find their next meal seems to change things a little.

This week, as many of you may know, there's been some political unrest in Thailand. I don't want to say too much about it, but if you're interested, look here for the latest. I've followed it to a point, particularly on the days surrounding many of the schools being shut down. There's been some violence, and many people upset with leaders and each other, but we've never felt any threat of danger. It sounds like the worst may be over, as the official "state of emergency" may be lifted soon. As no one seems to be backing down, it will be interesting to see how/if it is resolved.

Part of me has felt very guilty about never having faced trials like this. We have never had immigration problems. Our homeland, although far from perfect, is a safe and stable place to live. We have never felt the true pain of hunger, and we've always had clothes and shelter. As I was feeling guilty about this, I was reminded of D&C 82:3, "For of him unto whom much is given much is required...". This scripture has really helped me to regain a healthy perspective on life this week. We have a lot that is expected of us, but like I said before, the more we do, the more blessings we feel we receive. Living in Bangkok has presented many opportunities to serve and give like we've never been able to before, but we get so much in return by way of having so many people come into our lives who touch our hearts forever.

I know I've said it a million times, but we've learned so much being here. Although we're stereotypically stuck somewhere in the middle of the "rich expat" lifestyle and middle class Americans, instead of feeling bad for all that we're relatively lacking (when compared to most expats), more than anything, I've recognized how absolutely blessed we are. We have a home, safety, work, the gospel, and we have so many people we love who support us. Honestly, what more could we ask for?