Holidays in Thailand: Part 2 Thanksgiving

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The meal: sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, dressing, corn fritters & chicken

The boys enjoying their Thanksgiving meal

Ben helping Lincoln with his mad libs

One of the silly stories

Working on their Thanksgiving coloring page

Apple pie & Double layer pumpkin pie

Decorating the tree

Time to move on to Christmas!

I usually love Thanksgiving, mostly for all the yummy food. I enjoy spending time with our families and relaxing after the meal, but again this year would be different. I didn't want the day to be a nice American meal and then back to whatever we were doing before we ate. I wanted it to feel like a holiday, so we devoted the whole day to Thanksgiving.

We had our traditional Thanksgiving meal, minus the turkey. I was not sure where to get a turkey so we had roasted chicken instead. We had all the yummy sides and even two pies. Way more food than 5 people need, but I didn't want that to stop us from having a regular Thanksgiving dinner. It was so yummy and made me miss home. It was nice to have some American food!

After dinner, the boys learned about the true story of Thanksgiving. No sugar coating here. I really want to boys to learn real history instead of the glamorized version. We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, did a funny Thanksgiving mad libs, & colored Thanksgiving pictures. We all even took that traditional Thanksgiving Day nap! We finished the day up by putting up our Christmas decorations. It was so nice and relaxing.

I think Thanksgiving may have been my favorite holiday that we have celebrated in Thailand so far. I was able to spend the day relaxing and being thankful for the people that are so important to me. It was the first Thanksgiving that I felt we began to understand the meaning of Thanksgiving. When you move somewhere new and only have your immediate family with you, you begin to depend on your husband and children more than ever before. This adventure has given us amazing family time and brought us all closer together. This Thanksgiving I was so happy to devote the day to the people I am the most Thankful for.

Holidays in Thailand: Part 1 Halloween

Heading home after the fun!

My 3 superhero's stopping for some treats.

The whole group.

Lincoln giving a thumbs up for the good meal!

Flash is enjoying the meal.

Halloween themed dinner

Boys going on a scavenger hunt around the house for candy.

Halloween fairy left goodies in Pattaya for the boys.

I thought I would let you all know what the holidays have been like here in Thailand. I knew coming here the holidays would be VERY different. We would not have our normal traditions, families to celebrate with, or even the right season to go along with the holiday. I was determined to make the holidays special here for the boys. Through trying so hard I actually found more joy in the holidays, I found interesting facts and traditions about the holidays, and I found that the whole "spirit of the season" is really what you put into it.

First Big difference: the weather. I LOVE Autumn. It's my favorite season. I love picking apples, hay rides, fall festivals, candles, football games, & cozy clothes. Well, none of that happened here in Thailand. Our October was crazy!! We were running from the massive floods that covered most of the country. (I almost forgot about Halloween!!) It is was hot & sticky, nothing like October in Ohio. We woke up Halloween morning in Pattaya, two hours away from Bangkok, with 3 out of the 5 of us with the stomach flu. Not the most exciting way to spend Halloween, but the "Halloween Fairy" did drop off a few goodies for the boys.

The next day we were back in Bangkok, everyone was feeling much much better and I decided it was a great day to have our own little Halloween party. We had our traditional Halloween themed meal: Severed fingers, pumpkin sandwich, ghost banana, Frankenstein jello & a bat cupcake. Then, Ben took the boys on a scavenger hunt around the house for candy. We finished out our Halloween party watching the Halloween classic, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". We had lots of fun.

The second big difference: Halloween is not celebrated in Thailand. It was sad to know that the boys would not be going Trick-or-Treating. Normally they go to Little Boo at the Zoo with friends, have Halloween parties & then trick-or-treat around our neighborhood. We were so happy to hear that a few teachers from RIS had put together a trick-or-treat night back in our neighborhood the weekend after Halloween. It was a lot of fun. All the kids dressed up and got lots of candy.

I know things are different here. We are making new traditions and have to be flexible, but the best part has been when I hear the boys say, "This is the greatest day ever!" We seem to hear that a lot lately, so it does not have to be the way it was back in Ohio. As long as we are together and having fun, it is perfect!

Back into our Routine

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Koh Samet
Huge leaves in Koh Samet
Letting a lantern go in Rayong
Beach in Rayong
Big Buddha in Rayong
Lots of room service
Flooding in our neighborhood
Pattaya Beach
Mini Siam in Pattaya
Wow! What a crazy couple of months!! The flooding in Thailand was on our minds everyday starting in the middle of October all the way through the end of November. Areas all around us were flooding, but our area stayed dry. It almost seemed like the flooding might pass us. Our main concern was the lack of food and water in the stores. Which is why we left the first time in October. The owner's of our home were kind enough to drive us to Pattaya, a beach town south of Bangkok. We enjoyed hanging out at the pool, the beach, and checking out Mini Siam before the stomach flu attacked half the family. So needless to say, our first evacuation was not much fun. We ended up spending most of our time in the hotel. Thankfully it was a nice place with a kitchen!

We came back to Bangkok on October 31st and our whole neighborhood was still completely dry. Ben's school kept cancelling because of threats of flooding from all around us. It was really nice to have the time off, but yet we almost felt trapped in our home. We were never really sure what areas around us had water coming in. So, it kind of stunk because we would have loved to explore Bangkok, but we were safe and had food and water which was much better than many people in Bangkok.

RIS was scheduled to go back to school on November 15th. I was starting to get very nervous because water had finally reached one of the main roads leading into our neighborhood. We heard about many people starting to evacuate again. We made the decision to leave even though Ben was supposed to be back in school. So thankful we left because his school ended up cancelling that day for another week. Our owner took us back down to Pattaya again.

We stayed in Pattaya for 2 days and went to the beach and saw Big Buddha Hill. Then we headed further south to Rayong. The beaches were beautiful there. We hung out by the pool and did a little Christmas shopping. After 3 days we headed to the island of Koh Samet. It was paradise!! I never wanted to leave. Other than the man eating mosquitoes it was perfect. I felt lucky to be able to experience such a wonderful vacation with my family. This trip would have never happened if we were still living in the states. The boys loved the beach and swimming in the clear ocean. I am really looking forward to going back in a few months!

So now we are back in Bangkok. Life has returned back to normal. The cars that were parked on all the bridges are gone, flood relief signs have been taken down, & people selling rubber boots, boats, & life jackets on the highway have disappeared. You do still see and endless amount of sandbags though. There is enough sand in Bangkok to make their own beach I am sure. I keep thinking what are they going to do with all those sand bags?

We were so lucky to be in an area that was protected from the flooding. So many people in Thailand have had to live in flooded areas for weeks to months. Mosquitoes, diseases, crocodiles, snakes & filth have come with all the flooding. But the Thais have such an amazing spirit and are working to get their beloved country back to the way it was. Now we get to say we were a part of the largest disaster in Thailand in the past 50 years. I am so glad it is over in our area but still think of all the families that it is still affecting and to all those that were lost in the floods. Thank you to all that were praying for our safety during this time.

Threatened by Floods

Monday, October 10, 2011

I really took for granted how safe Northwest Ohio is from natural disasters. I would hear about hurricanes, floods, & tornadoes and knew most likely I would never have to experience one of these. I never imagined when I moved to the other side of the world that Thailand would be having the heaviest monsoon season in 50 years. Much of the country is experiencing flooding or will be affected soon.

This is Ayutthaya, a province about 45 minutes away from my house. When we visited Wat Pho a few weeks ago we were only 15 minutes away from this area. This area used to be the capital of the Thai Kingdom. It has amazing temples & ruins that I hope to get to see. This area holds so much history and it is so sad that it is being devastated by floods. Ben has some students that live in this area that are unable to get to school.

Last week, dams up north were released to try and relieve flooding up there, but that water has to go somewhere and it is headed our way. We live in one of the four districts that will bear the brunt of the flooding. We have heard a couple different dates as to when things could get really bad. Oct. 11th has been talked about as the beginning of the flooding and then worst of it will be here between Oct. 16-18 due to high tides and tropical storms combined with the water from the dams. It is so hard to believe that in a couple of months we won't see rain for months! This is a picture of a road today about 15 minutes from our house. There is also some flooded streets over by Ben's school, but as of right now our neighborhood is looking pretty good.

We brought all our belongings upstairs this weekend and tried to get as much of the furniture off of the ground that we could. We have heard that the water could be up to a meter high (over 3 feet). Our room has turned into our"head quarters". We have 15 gallons of water, food comes upstairs every night, medicine, crafts, & plenty of games & toys. I think and hope we are as prepared as we can be. We are going to the store every other day, just to stay stocked up on what we would need. It won't be fun, but we have to prepare ourselves as it seems this will be impossible to avoid. We just do not know the severity of it. I am so thankful we have an upstairs to our home and my heart breaks everytime I cross the khlong (canal) and see the houses that are built on the water slowly getting deeper. It will be a total loss for these families.

We appreciate all the kind messages we have been sent. We will keep you all updated on what is happening over here. Honestly, I just want it to happen and be done. The waiting is the worst. Thankfully Ben is on his October break next week and will be home with us. I really just want to enjoy our time together exploring Bangkok and be done thinking about flooding.

Goodies from the Street

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This was from our shopping trip the other night out on the street. Next time we go out I'll have to take pictures so you all can see where I am shopping. No sidewalks or safe places to walk. You pretty much just walk down the street and hope all the drivers are paying attention to where they are driving!! Here is what we got for around $15. Two whole roasted chickens, bananas, carrots, peppers, potatoes, onions, pineapple, corn on the cob,6 banana muffins,3 donuts,&5 truffles. Yum Yum!!

The ups & downs of school

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The last three weeks have had a lot of ups and downs. Three weeks ago the boys started their first week at their very first school. I was expecting there to be some challenges and thought I knew what boy would adjust better than the other...well I was wrong.

Lincoln's school experience:
I was sure Lincoln would hate school and would probably cry when he was there. I did not think he would ask questions or give any feedback, but I am so thankful I was wrong. He has an amazing teacher and only 9 other classmates. He found a friend right away that happens to live right across the street from us. Ms. Sharon, his teacher, tells me everyday how great he is adjusting and is full of funny stories and comments. She says he cracks her up everyday. He does seem to enjoy it although he does ask me about everyday if he can be homeschooled again. Ben & I will discuss that towards the end of this semester but for now he will stay at RIS.

Greyson's school experience:
Greyson is really outgoing and does not have trouble just jumping in and playing with other kids, so I really thought he would fit right in at school. He came home from the first day of school saying how much he liked it and was excited about going. Day 2 his tune was changing and by day 3 he was begging not to go. Ben and I had him complete the week and we found out a little more why he was feeling the way he did. We found out he had gotten separated from his class on the first and second day of school and was really scared. This school is huge and it is a really confusing campus. He tried finding Ben's classroom but was on the wrong floor. Thankfully some older students helped him find his class. I was a little bothered that his teacher had lost him especially knowing he was new and this was the first school he had been in.

Now, I know every child has problems with friends, but the kids were not being kind to him. His teacher would try and set up playground games for him, then she would leave, and the kids would tell Greyson to go play somewhere else or run away from him. He was feeling very lonely. This school is not like most international schools where you have a large variety of nationalities, it is mostly Thai. It's hard to fit in when you don't speak the language. I have never seen Greyson so worried, depressed, & withdrawn before, so we pulled him out.

Maybe it was too quick. I know most would say it was, but what a change! He is so happy being at home and is working incredibly hard everyday. It is nice being able to focus just on him instead of breaking up fights between the boys. For now, Lincoln is at school until 12:00, we pick him up and then we have the rest of the day together. This is not at all how I planned this, but it is working out and everyone seems happy. Even little Britton is learning his letter sounds! I am feeling so much better and have decided when it comes to your kids you really just have to follow your instincts!

Our visit to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Over the weekend, the boys and I had our first visit to downtown Bangkok. Much different than our quiet neighborhood, but was lots of fun to see. Every time we drive some where I am amazed that all the chaos seemed so choreographed. People are everywhere...crossing streets, relaxing by the roads, eating, shopping and then there is the traffic! I haven't quite figured out if there are any rules for driving here.

#1: 30 minute drive on highway in a cab without seat belts
#2: Bikes, scooters, motorcycles, cars, trucks all share the road.
#3: Smaller vehicles move to the left and get out of the way of the larger vehicles.
#4: Cars may drive down the center of the road to pass...little scary!!
#5: A car WILL pull out in front of you to make a turn.
#6: You will not hear any horns. It's amazing.

It is like every driver just knows what the other cars next move will be. People back home need to take driving lessons from the Thais. You rarely see accidents. So, back to the Buddha...

We got to Wat Pho ( Wat means place of worship) and right away I was amazed by the detail the Thai's put in to their buildings and sculptures. The building are decorated with glass and gems. All the entrances are guarded by large stone warriors. Wat Pho has over 1000 Buddhas, the largest collection in Thailand. It is also famous for The Reclining Buddha. It is amazing. This Buddha is 50 feet tall and 150 feet long. He is all gold leaf and then decorated with Mother of Pearl. It was really beautiful and the boys kept wondering how this was made.

I was a little worried that the boys would be bored with this trip, but they really enjoyed it. We didn't stay too long as it was 90 degrees and 85% humidity that day, but we can all say we have seen the largest Buddha in Thailand! I am already trying to plan our next sightseeing adventure!

( On a side note...I wonder how many Thais have pictures of my children? Everywhere we go people ask to take pictures of them, have the cell phones out snapping pics when they don't think I am looking, even asking to take pictures with me! It is bizarre. It's like we are the first Americans they have ever seen. Especially Britton with his blonde hair. I also have to get used to people touching my kids. Apparently it is good luck to touch a white child. Hoping my kids bring lots of good luck to lots of people!)

What to do with myself?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday was a big day in our house...the boys first day of school at Ruamrudee International School. The boys did great being dropped off at their classes. No tears or anything! (Not even from me!) The boys have to be at school at 7:10, which is a very early morning. They get a taxi around 6:40 to head off to school. Britton and I pick Lincoln up around 12:00. He would be able to stay for the whole day, but I think 7:10-2:40 for a 4 year old is a little much. He is only missing rest time, stories & a snack. Greyson comes home with Ben around 4:00.

Now, what do I think? Well, to be honest I am having a little bit of a difficult time with this transition and probably not for the reasons most parents have trouble with the first few days of school. When you decide to homeschool, you have already gone against what everyone thinks as "normal". You have had to defend your self and show that you can give your child the very best education that they could receive. Since most people are skeptical of homeschooling it makes you put your all into their school day to prove that you are not "screwing" up your child. My last 6 1/2 years have been devoted to coming up with the very best that I could for the boys. I had complete control of what was taught and loved that they could tell Ben everything they did for the day to him at dinner. I was able to monitor who they were playing with during the day and teach to their own learning styles. I feel like I gave in to the pressure.

I know that I had to take a look at the whole picture and the boys staying with just me was not the best for them (in Thailand), but now they get up at 5:50 am, have homework, cannot tell me what they did during the day, and not have much family time. I know we will all adjust, but I am hoping this was the best decision.

But with this change leaves a lot of free time for me that I am really not used too. Most would love this, but I am feeling very sad about it. I miss the boys, seeing what they are learning and the excitement they have when they "get it". I did really enjoy my day with Britton today though. We took a 15 minute walk to the lake, walked around, and the got some ice cream. I figured I would burn it off on the walk home!! It was 88 degrees and VERY humid today, so I am sure I just sweated the ice cream off!!

I am hoping with this new "free"time I will be able to learn Thai, make some new friends, maybe a massage or pedicure every once in a while, and learn to just enjoy this new phase in my life.
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