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 I have never seen Greyson so worried, depressed, & withdrawn before, so we pulled him out.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.

3 weeks am I feeling?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The last couple of days have been mixed with emotions, mostly frustration. One of my biggest frustrations is teeny tiny ants. These ants are EVERYWHERE!!!! And they are making me crazy. I opened a box of cereal...ants everywhere, ants in my cupboards, ants in my freezer (how does that happen?), ants in the bathroom, all over toothbrushes, toilet paper, in my clean clothes. I even put on my clean bathing suit the other day and did not realize until ants were all over me that they were all over my suit. Does anyone out there have a good way to get rid of ants? What is frustrating is that they are not just in food, but clean, washed items. I have doubled bagged all my food, keeping most of it in the fridge or freezer, have put toothbrushes in bags, and I guess I will also have to put my toilet paper in a bag. We are hoping to get the house sprayed soon and I really hope that helps because I am losing my mind over these ants!!

On Saturday, we went to the mall to find the boys some shoes for school. How does one find children's shoes in a mall with a bazillion people that do not speak the same language as you? Well, you don't. It was very difficult and the 2 places we did find that had children's shoes did not have the boys sizes in stock. Then when you need to use the elevators you have to wait about 10 times before you can finally squeeze in. This mall clearly does not have enough elevators, especially when the whole entire city spends their weekends at the mall. I was about ready to maneuver Britton's stroller down the escalator. After a very stressful trip to the mall we left without shoes. It's funny though, you don't want to lose your cool there because all the Thai's are so calm and would be shocked if you showed your patience was wearing thin. So, you continue to smile even though you are boiling inside.

I am also feeling a bit sad. Ben and I made the decision to enroll the boys Ruamrudee International School (the school Ben teaches at.) This was a very difficult decision for me. When you have the mindset to home school you have chosen to do so for feelings towards public education, religious reasons, safety issues, protecting your children socially against bad examples, giving your child personal attention compared to a class full of 30 kids and so on. Well, for us it was a quite a few of those reasons and I really had no intention of sending the boys to a traditional school. In the states, we had an amazing home school group that kept us very busy. The boys were involved in clubs, field trips, classes put on by the libraries, and fun play dates. Here, in Thailand, there is none of that, which is keeping us very isolated. I need to keep the boys active and have never wanted them to only be with me, so this situation is not really working out here. So, the decision was made to send the boys to school.

We went last Friday to start the registration process. The boys had their pictures taken for the id cards, picked out their uniforms, and met both of the principals. Everyone is so kind and the school really is amazing. It will be a huge adjustment though. Both of the boys will start at 7:10 am, which means they will have to leave around 6:45 am. I will be picking Lincoln up after lunch around 12:30 and Grey will be done with school at 2:40. The boys will have 2 specials a day including PE, music, art, values, Thai, & computers. I am excited to meet with the principals on Monday to hear more about their curriculum.

Now I just have to get over feeling like I failed at homeschooling and on to being excited about the boys making friends and starting after school activities like swimming, soccer, tae kwon do, & rock climbing, I know they will be fine and I am sure it will be harder on me than them. On to a new phase in my life and getting to spend lots of one on one time with my little Britton!

Our new house

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I have had a few people ask to see what our new house is like. So, here are pictures of our new house. I really like it. It is in a quiet neighborhood where I can actually take the boys on a walk. And yes, my laundry room is outside!!

What a weekend!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

This was the first weekend that we had where Ben didn't have any school obligations, so we decided to fill it up with checking out our new neighborhood. Friday Night, we went out and went to a cute little cafe called Mood Food. Most Thai restaurants serve food family style,so we ordered Pad Thai, Spring rolls (my new favs!), chicken curry dish and a cheeseburger for Lincoln! ( Still working on Lincoln's love of American food :)

I love to relaxing feeling you get when you go into the restaurants here. No one is being impatient about the time it takes for the food to be made. Many of the places have one server and one cook, so it takes a little time but so worth the wait!! You almost have the feeling of being on vacation and having no worries. "Mai Pen Rai" no worries as the Thais say.
Saturday was a fun day for all. I went on a motorcycle tour of our neighborhood with a colleague of Ben's. It was a blast! She showed me where the great local Thai food places were, massage & pedicures shops, a place that makes frames for you, the local seamstress, & a great coffee shop. Then we took the bus to the grocery store and she showed me how to do a few things I wasn't so sure of. For example, in the bakery you put your baked goods on a tray and and then take it to the cashier who packages it up for you and then you pay for it first. When buying fruit at the store you have to weigh it and then print off the bar code before you can buy it. Glad she showed me because I hadn't bought any veggies or fruit at the store because I had no idea how too!!

While I was out, the boys met some friends at Ben's school and played soccer, t-ball, & swam. They were so happy to get out and play with other kids!

Sunday was also lots of fun. We went out and shopped on the street which is much cheaper than shopping at the stores. We bought lots of goodies and only spent about $4.50 American. We then hung out at the coffee shop called "Lord of Coffee" named after the owner. His name is Lord. That's one thing we noticed to be very interesting. The Thais have their given name and then a preferred name. Here are some preferred names that are interesting...Thank You, Party, Gun, Kids names after colors, letters, is all very interesting. We then went swimming at Ben's school. It was a great weekend.

As each day passes, I start to love this place even more. It is so strange how we live on the other side of the world, but I don't feel that way at all. This is definitely a place to visit. If you ever head this way, give us a call. You may never want to leave either! that's a little different

Friday, September 2, 2011

I have been finding that here in Thailand there are a lot of little differences.

#1: When shopping for food, everything comes in much smaller packages. For example, if you buy cookies you will get just one row in a pack instead of 3 or 4 rows like back home. The cereal boxes are individual boxes are at least half the size of back home. What I think the Thais are trying to say, "Eat less processed food!" and "Stop super sizing!" I think that is a great idea too.

#2 My broom is different, but I like it better than the ones back home.

#3 Outside laundry room. Great idea since it doesn't ever get below 70 degrees here. Trying to get used to my clothes taking much longer to dry and really having to plan ahead on outfits.

#4 Buying clothes in Thailand is kind of like shopping in the Junior Department at Kohls. I wear like 3 sizes bigger here than I would back home.

#5 Driving on the "wrong side of the road" For the first week I was here I was pretty sure we were going to be hit head on. Now I am getting used to it and almost think that it looks normal. Along with driving, the boys are often in the back of taxis without seat belts, which terrifies me. But there are not any other options.

#6 When you go to a food court you have to put money on a card first, and then you can go to the vendor and pay for your food. Good thing Susannah & Diane told me about that or we would still be trying to figure out how to pay!!

#7 You do not have a top sheet in Thailand. The bedding packages come with a fitted sheet, pillow cases and a duvet, no top sheet. You can not them anywhere, so needless to say I only have a duvet cover as my sheet/blanket.

#8 All the showers are tiled. The bathrooms all step down and water really just sprays all over the bathroom. You keep your bath mats outside of your door to wipe your feet when you leave your bathroom. I made the mistake of putting a bath mat right outside the shower and when I got out it was completely drenched When the maid cleans the bathroom, she actually just sprays the whole thing down. Makes for easy cleaning, although you have to wait for it to dry.

#9 The service is amazing here. We were having furniture delivered and I expected them to drop the boxes off and Ben would be putting them together, nope not here in Thailand! The guys came right in, put it all together, and then even moved it to the rooms they belonged! When you buy something at a store, they will test out the product first for you so you know it actually works. It's kind of nice and I am sure cuts down on returns.

These are just a few of the differences, but they are all reasons I am beginning to find great charm with this country!
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