Finding the Perfect Fit - Part 2 ( A NEW new job)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A few months back I shared with all of you that I would be going "back to work" after 9 years of staying home with my boys.  I had taken a job at my husband's school working with their boarding program.  I had found a job that was going to mesh perfectly with my life as a homeschooling mom.  It was a really great fit and a great opportunity for me to get back into working outside of my home.  I really enjoyed it.  The students were very welcoming and the staff was wonderful, but I soon came to realize that working with high school students was really out of my comfort zone.  Working with elementary kids has always been where I am the most comfortable.  And then I heard about a job teaching/tutoring at a tutor house.

I am so grateful for my job at the boarding school.  Even though my time there was very short, it made me realize that there are jobs that I can do that will still allow me to teach the boys at home, but give me the freedom to have something that is mine outside of my house. When I decided to homeschool the boys, I didn't think there would be any way that I could work and balance the boy's schedules. I love how over the past 9 years, I have been lucky enough to have had some amazing jobs & wonderful start-up companies that have provided me the flexibility to continue to teach my boys.    I decided at the end of the 2013-2014 school year not to renew my job at the boarding school for the upcoming year and interviewed at the tutor house.

I started teaching at Wise Tutor House this past May.  So far, it has been a really great experience.  I work around 12 hours a week over 3 different days.  I am tutoring 9 children ages 5-11 in English and Math.  I am able to work in the evening after my husband is home from work and on the weekends, so we do not need to find a nanny for the boys. It really could not fit our schedules any better. I am so happy that I finally have a job that allows me to use my love of teaching and does not cut into my family time. It just goes to show that when you are really ready for a change, opportunities will present themselves. Although, we may have to be really patient while it is all falling into place.

How many of you work and homeschool your children at the same time?  I would love to hear how you keep it all balanced.

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24 hours in Kanchanaburi

Saturday, July 26, 2014

When we first moved to Thailand I had no idea that the Bridge over River Kwai was in Thailand. I had heard of the movie but really had no idea what it was all about. Once I realized that this place was actually in Thailand, it made the list of places I wanted to make sure that we would visit before we move away.   My husband had a long weekend and some friends invited us to come along with them on a whirlwind trip to Kanchanaburi. We would be spending 24 hours there and we made it quite an adventure  

How to get there: you can always take a taxi, bus, or hire a driver, but we decided to take the more adventurous route. We met up at 7:00 am to catch a train from the Bangkok Thonburi train station. The ticket was around 100 baht ($3 USD)  per person. We have never done a train trip before and I thought this one would be a great one to introduce the boys too because it is only a 3 hour trip from Bangkok.

 Thonburi Train Station (this is not the large main station)

 The station seemed like it was right out of a movie. Men, hand ringing bells when the train was departing, open windows, and in Thai fashion, no signs really explaining what to do. We hopped across the tracks to get on a waiting train when the other masses of people did thinking it was our train. Thankfully, some very nice people told us that was not the train to Kanchanburi. If you're not sure which train you should be on, just ask.  Thais are very friendly and will be willing to help you out. We managed to get on the right train, but it was packed. Due to it being the weekend and a holiday weekend on top of it, we were packed in. Out of our group of 8, two people had to stand the entire time. The train is not air conditioned, only open windows. It was a great first train experience for all of us, but I was thankful it was only 3 hours long. 

The whole reason you go to Kanchanburi is to visit the famous Bridge over the  River Kwai. We went right away and had lunch at the floating restaurant ( I would skip this. Too expensive and not very good food. We ordered many dishes and none of us were very pleased. Find a small local place to eat!!). Then we walked along the bridge. A small train can also take you across the bridge.  This is not the original bridge, as that one was bombed. 

 Welcome to Kanchanaburi

Floating Restaurant (Save your money and search for a less touristy place!) 

 Green curry & rice noodles

The Bridge Over River Kwai

Little train that takes you over the bridge

After we checked out the bridge we went to the JEATH War Museum. The museum is not that well organized, but it did give us a better idea of what actually occurred at the bridge site. It's so interesting when you actually see a landmark in person that you have heard about in history class. To think about what really happened there and how this city has taken a terrible event and turned it into a positive memorial for the people it affected is quite amazing.  We saw original pictures of the bombings, memorials with the skeletons of men that were killed that day, replicas of what the prisoners would have gone through while they were being forced to build the bridge and many other pieces of memorabilia from the war.   It was a great history lesson for all of us.

 JEATH War Museum

Day two we decided to do something a little lighter and headed to the beautiful waterfalls outside of Kanchanaburi. To get there we went to the local bus station, bought tickets for Erawan National Park and took the hour bus ride up to the falls. ( Just to add a little more adventure, the door on our bus would not shut and Britton and I were in the seat right by the door. Only Thailand !  ).

The waterfalls are a  7-tier waterfall. You can stop along your climb to the top and jump in the water. At about tier # 4 we decided to jump in. The water was freezing and you are welcomed in the water with masses of people and fish nibbling your feet. None of us liked the fish bites, but it saved me from ever needing to try a fish pedicure! No thank you! We only climbed to tier 4, but that was enough on a sweltering hot day.  I have heard if you make it to the top, you will not be disappointed.  With four little ones climbing some very steep steps, tier 4 was enough for us. 

  There are places to eat outside of the falls and we noticed many locals that were taking lunches onto the grounds of the falls. After a quick lunch, we hopped back on the bus.   They will tell you when you need to get back on the bus to Kanchanaburi. There are multiple shuttles going all day. Our bus driver was even nice enough to drop us off at our hotel instead of the bus station! We hired a private driver to take us back to Bangkok instead of the train home.  The cost was around 2200 Baht.  We set that up before we went to Kanchanaburi,

So, that was our 24 hours in Kanchanburi...a beautiful town filled with history and gorgeous waterfalls. I really recommend visiting it for yourself. It was a nice weekend getaway. 

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Saying Goodbye

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goodbyes are never easy.  It's hard for the ones who are moving away, but it is equally as hard for the ones who are left behind. Living as an expat, you tend to rely on others quicker than you would if you lived near family. Friendships become deeper much faster. Friends become your family and your support group. Great relationships are made and your surrogate family is born. But, expats do not usually stay in one place forever, which means saying goodbye every year to a number of families. We have been lucky that we have not had to say goodbye to many close friends over our 3 years in Thailand, but at the end of this school year the time came to say goodbye to some of our closest friends.

"T" was one of the first people I met when I moved to Thailand. She showed me around our neighborhood and made me feel very welcome. She has a son right between my two older boys and they became fast friends. Over the next 3 years, we went on vacation together, had theme meal nights, had girls nights, went on adventures in the city, and spent holidays together. Some of our favorite moments while living in Thailand have included them. 

They decided it was time to leave Bangkok and accepted a job in another country.  I didn't realize how upset I would end up being. It actually took me a bit by surprise. But, when a person who has been a constant in your life, someone you can talk to openly, someone you look up to as a mentor leaves a hole. My boys were losing one of their best friends and we were losing a family that we have really enjoyed spending time with. It took many conversations with the boys to digest the loss they were going to be experiencing. They are doing better with it now.  Thank goodness for skype and care packages!  Now we have friends on a new continent and who knows, maybe a new country to visit!   

Life as an expat brings so many hellos and goodbyes. Of course the goodbyes are sad, but we get to say hello to many new people all the time. I am so thankful for the people that have been brought into my life living as an expat. I have friends from all over, with different backgrounds, religions and cultures and I feel my life is fuller because of it. So, now this family has a special spot in our hearts and a photo on our wall of people that have left a mark in our lives. 

Saying goodbye is never easy, but I know it isn't forever.  We will meet up again.  Good luck "L's".  We look forward to hearing of all the great things to come to you this year!
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