We are back and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I did not mean to take such a long time off from posting.  We have had a such a crazy schedule the past few weeks, as I am sure most of you can also relate.   We had a huge surprise for the boys on Thanksgiving night.  My mom flew in from the States to surprise the boys.  They had no idea that she was coming!  It was so funny to watch their little faces try to process what was going on.  There were a lot of very confused looks for a few minutes before an eruption of smiles and giggles.  I'll post more about my mom's whirlwind week in Thailand later.

This time of year flies by so fast.  It seems like it is October to New Years in the blink of an eye.  I have so much to share with all of you and my hopes for our very low key winter break is to catch up on all that has been happening here. I still have to tell you about my two weeks in Europe from this past summer!  Last year, you may remember we had a massive surprise for Christmas. (Read here about our Christmas gift to the boys.  It was something I never imagined would ever be able to happen!)  This year, we decided it was time to take a break,  catch our breath, and just spend some much needed quality time together.  As much as I love traveling, I was really needing a little break.

I hope you are all enjoying this holiday season, really taking it all in, and not letting the busyness consume you. I will be back with  more in the next few week, but for now I will leave you with our Christmas card for this year.  Happy Holidays from all of us!

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Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's that time of year again, when international teachers are handed their contract and have to decide if they want to stay or resign and then try to find another job.  It's the most stressful time of the year. This is when you and your spouse discuss hour after hour what the best choice will be.

Working at an international school is different than being in the States.  Back home, you know that most likely, you will stay with your current school district for a long time.  Possibly, even retire from that school. That is not usually the case when you teach internationally.  You take the job knowing that this will be a short term teaching position.  Every November you are handed the contract and the decision will have to be made. Some families choose to stay a little longer, but other decide to change schools every two or three years. Why not?  It's a great way to see the world.

When Ben took this job, we thought it would be just for two years.  When it came to contract time, we were right down to the wire, with him signing the day before the contract was due.  Same thing happened last year. We think we could be ready to leave, but then all the great things about Thailand start to remind us why we really should stay a little longer.

Ben and I start talking about our decision almost right after the current contract is signed and continue to weigh the pros and cons all year long. It is a tough decision.  This is not something we take lightly.  We are constantly worried about the boys and if this is still the right place for them to be.  Are they progressing the way we would like or able to be involved as much as we hoped?  Are we happy?  Is this too much of a strain put on our marriage?  What's best financially?  What about our families back home? We are constantly discussing.

So, when we announce our decision, it can be difficult to respond when the recipient of our news is disappointed, upset, or possibly even mad at us.  We have spent countless looking at it from every angle. We are trying to do what is best.  It all comes down to what is, in the end, the best for the boys and for us as a family.   And it is a decision we have obsessed over for many, many months.

So, here it is again. Yet again, thinking one thing and then ultimately deciding another.  We will be staying in Thailand for a 5th year.   This was not what we expected, but we are completely at peace with our decision and know it is right for us at this moment.  We are thankful Ben has a job he enjoys and students that are happy to learn.   We are overwhelmed by the experiences we have had and places we have been able to travel.  We are happy.  Thailand, you can't get rid of us that easily.  We are here to stay for another year.

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Laundry Room

Have I ever showed you my laundry room?  I thought you might all like to take a peak at laundry rooms, Thai style.

Let's go through this door.

Outside.  Yep outside.

Here is my trusty washing machine.  It takes days to get all the laundry done as I can only fit about 6 towels in the washer.

No, I didn't forget to take a picture of my dryer.  These rickety drying racks and rope strung all over are my dryer.  We air dry all year long, which sounds like great fun until your child gets sick or has an accident and you only have one set of bedding for each of  them.

Clothes dry great during the dry season, but during rainy season it can be a bit of a challenge.  You can usually get by with leaving the clothes out all morning, but by afternoon, everything must come in or it will get soaked.

It took some getting used to, but I have come to really love my outdoor laundry room.  Even if I have to I peak out the door EVERY.TIME to make sure there are no snakes or monitor lizards. This is just one of the things that changed once we moved to Thailand.  Same. Same. but Different. :)
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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ok, I am not a food blogger at all, but I just had to share this soup I made today.  Chicken noodle soup is such a comfort food.  Whenever I don't feel well, I always want some soup to help make me feel better. Thailand is full of street stalls offering noodle soup, but they are just not quite the same. For one, the noodles are all rice noodles, and I really love egg noodles.

I have searched over the years for egg noodles in Thailand, but they do not taste like the noodles from the States. Canned soup can really only be used in desperate situations and they only carry the condensed noodle soup here. I don't really like that kind, but do keep some on hand in times of need. I  can say that I have never once considered making my own noodles, but then I found this recipe and she made it sound so easy.

Greyson was sick yesterday and the only thing that sounded good to him today was chicken noodle soup.  I was up for the challenge.  Oh my is so easy!  Just make the dough, roll it out and let it set for an hour. While the dough is setting out, throw the chicken stock, chicken and veggies into a pot and boil.  Put the noodles in 30 minutes before you are ready to eat...and there you go.  Amazing soup!

I even got all 3 boys approval!  That is almost unheard of.  Even my middle son, who was complaining about the soup all morning, ended up eating 2 bowls!  Give this soup a try, but let me warn may never eat canned soup again!

Recipe found on For the Love of Cooking.

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Week in Review: Week 12 November 3-7

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We are still chugging along, trying to get all of our work accomplished.  This seems to be getting harder everyday to stay motivated and on top of everything.  I am still, yes STILL, trying to figure out the best schedule for us.  I am finding it really hard to fit in history, science, and our language arts after lunch for the big boys and work on science and language arts with Britton.  There is just not enough time.  I have been tossing around the idea of switching history and science every other month, so I feel like we actually put the time in that I would like too.  We will see.

We are slowly working on our FIAR & BFIAR books.  It is taking between 2 & 3 weeks for us to complete one book, due to so many other projects and activities.  Greyson and Lincoln are reading Storm in the Night and Britton is reading The Big Green Pocketbook.  Both are great stories and I hope to finish them up next week and move on to Thanksgiving activities.

Britton filling his green bag

Britton is learning about the 5 senses in science.  We worked on hearing and smell this week.  I hid a timer around the room and he had to listen for it, we read books on hearing, and we did a hearing Safari where he had to listen for different sounds outside.  I had him smell all different types of spices and he put them in good and bad groups.  This was funny to do with him!

 Sound Safari

 Writing good and bad smells
 bad smell
Much better

Greyson and Lincoln just started their Nancy Larson Vol. 3 science. They are learning about the solar system.  We read quite a few books about the sun and had some great discussions about how important the sun really is.  They also did a fun sun craft.

 Smooshing (that's a word, right?) colors together to make a sun

We made it almost every single after school activity this week!   Next semester we are simplifying a bit.  I need at least one day off after school.  They are all doing great with swimming and the big kids are still loving soccer.  They also were very excited to get their Christmas songs for piano. They have been practicing for their Christmas recital.

One exciting thing that happened this week was that I was pretty sure that my motor bike was going to explode on the way to the school.  About halfway there I almost turned back home because the sound was getting louder and louder.  By the time I made it to the street the school is on I made the boys hop off because I thought any extra weight was just going to push my bike over the edge.  I pulled into the drive thankful I had made it.  Ben tried driving it and it completely stopped moving! We called the bike shop, they came and picked up my motorbike and had it all ready for me the very next day!  Service really is amazing here.  They even fixed my broken break handle for no extra charge!  Thankfully, my bike wasn't completely dead and  it just had something to do with the clutch.

We celebrated our favorite Thai Holiday, Loy Krathong this past Thursday.  Check out my post here. We had a great time at the neighborhood festival.

This week, we also said goodbye and a massive thank you to our maid, O.  She has been with us since we moved to Thailand and I could not say thank you enough for all she did for me everyday she came to my house.  Honestly, she kept me sane!  She kept me organized and and feeling like I had some control in my life.  She actually works right across the street from us, so we still get to see her everyday.  I am very thankful for her!

Lincoln completed reading 40 chapter books so far this school year. Once you read 40 books, you can pick an activity to do to celebrate, so Lincoln chose to go to the mall and play video games.  We had a great morning celebrating Lincoln!

We also finished reading Hatchet  by Gary Paulsen this week.  If you have not read it, put it on your list.  What an amazing story!

So, that was our week.  Ready to move on and start planning Thanksgiving.  And have I mentioned the HUGE surprise we have for the boys?!  It's happening on Thanksgiving and I cannot wait. Anyone have any guesses?

One more sweet moment:  Greyson & Lincoln both reading at breakfast
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Loy Krathong 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

My favorite Thai holiday, Loy Krathong, just took place last Thursday. The holiday takes place usually in November on the full moon.  The Thais make beautiful floats (krathongs) made out of banana stems and cover the base with banana leaves and flowers.  They are floated out into the rivers and lakes after you make a wish for the future.

The Krathong the boys chose

I love the beauty of this holiday.  I love that we are able to take part in one of Thailand's favorite holidays. This is also the same holiday that they send the floating lantern's into the air. My hope is that we get to Chiang Mai to see the lantern festival up there!

The first year we were here, we were able to set off lanterns on the beach, one of my favorite moments here. Last year, we tried making our own krathongs, which was a lot of fun.  We collected flowers from the neighborhood and put it all together. They were beautiful.

Loy Krathong 2011
Krathongs the boys made in 2013

This year, Loy Krathong was early and snuck up on me and  we didn't have a chance to make our own krathongs.  So, we bought one at the festival.  Our neighborhood throws a great celebration with vendors and games.  We spent a couple of hours at the festival and had a great time.  We made our wish and enjoyed some yummy food.  Here are some photos of our time celebrating Loy Krathong.

 Setting the krathong in the water
 Some are made out of colored dough to be environmentally friendly
All the floats
 Eating some yummy ice cream
Sticky rice & pork, the boy's favorite food

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Halloween 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I thought I better share what we have been up to over the past month before Halloween is completely forgotten and we move on to Thanksgiving.  I love Halloween.  I'm not really sure why, but it's one of my favorite holidays to prepare for.  Every year, I plan an activity a day as a countdown to Halloween.  Here is what I planned to do.  But, life happened and I think we only ended up crossing about 6-10 activities off the list, but we still had fun.  We did watch plenty of fun Halloween movies like Hotel Transylvania, Ghostbusters, Hocus Pocus, Ernest Scared Stupid (my boys have been loving the old Ernest movies), and a really cute Curious George movie.

Britton pretending to be a mummy at the library

Reading Halloween books

My pretty orange Halloween roses

We made some fun snacks.

Here are some of our Halloween crafts we made.

We made Halloween t-shirts.

And I set up for our Halloween themed meals on Halloween day.  I love theme meals!  We had a theme breakfast, snack, and lunch.

Orange smoothies, sausage mummies, & donuts
Halloween puppy chow

In our neighborhood, all the teachers throw a small trick or treat on one of the streets since Halloween is not celebrated here.  The boys got all dressed up and went trick or treating with their friends.  It was a very fast trick or treat as the sky turned black and we were entertained by a beautiful lightning display.  But after living here for 3 years, we know that if it is thundering and lightening like that, there is going to be a major storm. We made it home just before the skies opened up!

Darth Maul, Zombie & MotorCy driver

First thing the boys did when they got home... counted their candy.

It was a great month of all things Halloween.  I am trying to remind myself (daily) not to put these crazy, unrealistic expectations on how to celebrate a holiday.  Pinterest is really a blessing and a curse all at the same time.  Now time to prepare for Thanksgiving and a very special surprise for the boys! Stay tuned!

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