Thursday, January 7, 2016

First Semester Recap

In a perfect world, I would have been posting a lot more regularly and done {at the very least} monthly updates.  It would be a great way to connect with family and to help me remember in years to come what our lives look like these days.  That would have been nice.  

Instead, I was busy and consumed emotionally with transitioning to our new lives in Thailand.  I'm allowing myself some leeway.  However, one of my 'outlets' and ways of processing is to write.  I want to document these days for the reasons above and also to help me truly experience and find joy in the present.  So, I will be a bit more active here.  
In the interest of chronology, and because I'm a bit too particular to start with now, here's a bit of a recap of our first 5 months in our new home.  

August~We literally landed in BKK on the first of August which makes it wonderfully easy to remember how long we've been here.  Most of August was spent in the awe of being back here with our son in tow.  We made LOTS of trips to Big C (the Nonthaburi equivalent of Super WalMart) to make our home more home-y.  We eventually purchased some living room furniture, a 50" tv, some rugs and decor to help us settle in.  Each day, this new place became more our home.  We spent time reconnecting with friends and students who were here 7 years ago as well as beginning to get to know all the new faces.  MUCH has changed.  Some things are the same.  Once school started, we liked getting into the new routine and learning the new schedules and students and systems of life on a school campus.  We had a couple of weekend outings to explore the city.  We went to Dusit Zoo and got annual passes to Ocean World. Mostly, we focused on adjusting to our new jobs and home.  Speaking of jobs, here's what we do: 
Matt is teaching second grade and has 14 kids in his homeroom.  He also teaches the higher-level English students for all of Grade 2 and Science for both Grade 2 classes.  In the first semester, Tricia was working 3 days a week as a substitute teacher for all grades.  When she wasn't subbing, she was working in the office as an assistant to one of the school administrators.  (This is changing for 2nd semester.) Tyndall goes to Nursery Monday-Friday from 8:00am-3:00pm (naps for a couple hours there).  It's on our school campus, and we get to peek glimpses of him during the day.  

September~September was definitely about settling in.  We had a staff retreat out of town for a couple of days.  During that time, Tyndall fell off an incredibly tall ladder, so we had a bit of a health scare.  Thankfully, he was totally fine, but it was definitely a monumental day for our family.  I think it helped us become closer to more people here as well.  In September, we started investing more in relationships with people here.  I had a couple of one-on-one coffee morning dates with new friends, and we went out with a couple families for dinner.  We also spent a lot of time in the evening watching shows like Parenthood, The Walking Dead, and Bones.  I started doing a women's Bible Study group through our church on Monday evenings and was teaching ESL at our church on Tuesday evenings.  We also had Overnight Camp on campus where all of elementary school kids have extra time at school (grades 2 and above spend the night).  Matt became really sick that weekend, which caused him to miss a couple days of school the next week.  Everyone said our immune systems would be weak this first year as we adjust to a new environment and living at a school.  Which brings us to October... 

October~was a very different month.  We had committed to teaching Joy Club, which is English school on Saturdays for (mostly) kids who don't go to GES.  Matt teaches K2&3 (ages 4-6), and I teach K1 (ages 2-3).  We started that on Saturday mornings, but we were both feeling run down.  Matt started feeling better after about a week, but I started feeling worse.  I broke down and went to the doctor one day and found out I had pneumonia.  Yuck.  They wanted me to stay at the hospital, but that was intimidating to me in a new country, away from my family, so I opted to just travel to the hospital each day for breathing treatments and IVs.  That lasted about a week, and then I just had to go a couple times a week.  By the third week in October, I was starting to feel better but was still just wiped out.  That happened to coordinate with October Break for the school.  We had originally planned to travel to Cambodia for the break, but opted to stay home and do day adventures instead.  We did things like Imagania, Ocean World, Safari World, Ikea, Tyndall's first movie at a theater, and hanging out with families at the school.  The Ikea trip was fruitful in that we got lots of more things to make our home more home-y.  My birthday also fell over October Break, and I share a birthday with another teacher here.  So, we took our families to lunch and to the Children's Museum together.  Then, we left the kids with Matt and went and got foot massages. Then she babysat Tyndall so Matt and I could have a date night.  So sweet!   Even though I probably should have rested a lot more, October Break was fun!  I remained pretty exhausted and out of gas for the rest of October, even though I returned to work, and we both started tutoring kids after school.  Our friend George started hanging out with Tyndall after nursery while Matt and I were tutoring.  My pneumonia stayed around until the 2nd week of November, but I was feeling much better by the end of October.  

November~November was busy.  I did a LOT of subbing and even worked extra days to make up for time that I would miss from school in December.  We also had a lot of teachers out for various reasons, including the birth of a new baby. While the new daddy was out for a week, I taught his high school chemistry classes.  Hilarious.  I also spent a few days shadowing one of the first grade teachers because I will be long-term subbing for her while she is out for maternity leave.  Between normal jobs and tutoring and Joy Club, we kept ourselves busy.  In November, I was also back to Bible Study and ESL on Tuesdays most weeks.  But when I committed to teaching full-time this coming semester, I knew I wouldn't be able to teach ESL as well.  I was a little sad to give that up, but I know I can do that in another season.  I realized that my time at home with Tyndall was becoming pretty limited, and I want to have more of that.  Thanksgiving was definitely different.  On the actual Thursday, we ended up having friends over for dinner at the spur-of-the-moment and didn't actual realize it was Thanksgiving dinner until after. Our school did a BIG Thanksgiving dinner the Saturday after.  We had about 100 people.  Ham, chicken, and sides-a-plenty!  It was good.  Definitely started missing family (and familiar traditions) more though.  

December~was CrAzY.  Matt was getting his kids ready for the big Christmas program, and for the end of the semester.  The first week of December, I worked extra days to get ready for the time I was about to be off...
On December 5th, I flew to Cancun, Mexico for my best friend, Ginger's wedding!  Mom met me there, and we spent a few days on a beautiful resort hanging out with the Henry~Hudson wedding guests which was so much fun.  It was honestly the best resort I've ever been to and the people were really fun to get to know.  Very, very fun and refreshing few days.  Not to mention getting to watch Ginger marry the man of her dreams, a man we have prayed together for for years!  After Cancun, I flew to SC for a few days and spent a little time trying to see a lot of people and get a lot of stuff done.  Overall, it was a great few days.  I feel like I got to have time with almost everyone I wanted to and it was even quality time.  I got to see Valerie and Zeb's new house and dance around to Disney songs with my niece Sadie.  I got to have a mock Christmas breakfast with the Flagler fam and even a typical Sunday lunch on my "bonus day" (my flight was delayed leaving Charleston, and by then I had missed all connections to Bangkok, so I had to stay an extra day).  Got to see the James Island Christmas lights with the Flaglers and my other nieces, have Panera dates with friends and even an airport breakfast with the fresh-from-her-honeymoon Mrs. Hudson.  A great, whirlwind trip for sure, but praise God, jet lag didn't put a damper on things!  Once back home in Bangkok with my boys (and SIX suitcases!), it was straight to working in the office then time for Christmas program (a 3 day intense event right in our front yard.)  Tyndall handled the change in schedule and loud music outside his bedroom window quite well.  But we were also really glad when it was over because then it was time for CHRISTMAS BREAK!  

{Forgive the lack of pictures.  Again, this is really just for my remembrance down the road.  Plenty of pics can be found on Facebook.}

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tyndall James is 3 Years Old!

I wrote his last milestone update half his life ago.  That's crazy.  And, now he's 3.  So, I was due for an update. I love looking back on these already, so I assume they'll be really special 10, 20, 30 years from now.  When he's my age.  Oh dear.   That will happen soon enough, but for now, he's 3.  
On a boat on our recent trip to Chiang Mai

Nicknames:  T, T-man, T-baby,  Bubba, "Kendo", "Tindon"

Favorite things to do:  Play outside, play trains, watch Play-Doh videos on YouTube, watch shows, go on adventures, drink milk, play with friends, go to Nursery, "ride" his tricycle (he is just now starting to pedal instead of scoot), read books, play hide & seek

Looking through a new book on Christmas morning
Favorite books:  We're Going On a Bear Hunt, Jamberry, God Is Bigger than the Boogie Man, God made You Special, A-Z Alphabet book, 5 Little Monsters, There's A Nightmare in My Closet, Jesus Storybook Bible, (and lots of other books about construction trucks and animals) 
His Bedtime Buddies
Favorite toys:  CinnaBear! (might even be his best friend), other stuffed animals (Pig, Shark, Octopus, VanillaBear, Monkey, Cocky, etc.), matching game, cars, Play Doh, train set, play kitchen, dinosaurs, Connect 4 in Daddy's classroom, games on Mommy's phone. 

Favorite TV Shows/Movies:  Peppa Pig, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Frozen, Despicable Me 1&2, Play-Doh videos on YouTube (especially DCTC), Jake & the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, 
The Lion King, Curious George, Spongebob, Horton Hears a Who

Favorite Foods:  PB&J sandwiches, eggs, cheese, fruit, broccoli, protein shakes, chicken, fruit shakes, rice, noodles (Apparently he eats a lot at school but not too much at home.), ice cream, quesadillas

Friends:  Boyda boys (Keaton, Landon & Trevor), Ezra, Emma & Ellie, Rooney, Alisia, Sa, Meacha, In-In, Shita and many more! 

Ring-around-the-rosie with the Boyda boys
Basket swing with Ezra and Keaton
Favorite Sayings:  What is this?  Why?  I want to hold you.  Let's go outside.  Will you play with me?  Can I have some?  Why?  Can I watch ...?  I want to play a game on Mommy's phone.  Let's play...  Why?  "I Tyndall James Flagler", There's monsters in there?  Why?  Monsters can't get us here.  That's not scary.  Why?  No, thank you.  
silly face on the swing

Things he doesn't like:  Fireworks, Thunderstorms, swimming, being told "no", bugs, 

Things that happened while he was 2:  Kept going to MMO and made good friends with Khyla, Capers, and Aaron.  Went on the boat with the Petersons.  Spent lots of time with family and cousins Hailey, Kayte and Sadie.  Loved our back yard at our old house and playing in the yard with Zoe and neighborhood friends.  Started bilingual preschool at Papa & Gigi's church.  Had 2 visists to the ER because Mommy thought he ate some Tylenol (same week). Went to BeBe's house for July 4th weekend.  Moved to Thailand.  Started going to Thai nursery 5 days a week.  Went to Thai ER for falling 5-6 meters off a ladder.   "Helped" Mommy teach an English club for 3 year olds on Saturday mornings.  Loved going to church nursery and playing "Play-Doh".  Fed giraffes.  Performed in first Christmas program on a big stage. Rode on an elephant.    

Hanging with Hailey right before we moved
with Grandma in July
with Sadie in the moving boxes in July
first tuk-tuk ride
playing with Ezra after school
with Daddy in Thai style
first elephant ride

This has been a big year for our boy!  I love watching him grow and his personality develop.   He has handled an international move like a pro!  For the most part, he jumps right into things and is quick to make friends.  He's fearless, adventurous, and brave.  He loves trying new things.  In Thailand, his blonde hair and fair skin really stand out from a crowd, and Thai people are quick to notice him.  I've lost count of the number of people who have taken pictures with him, touched him, kissed him, and asked to hold him.  He handles it well, for the most part, but can be grumpy about it sometimes.  We are discovering that he is a true extrovert by getting charged up from being around people.  He looooooooooooooves being around people and laughing and making others laugh.  He keeps us giggling and moving! He is not a boy who likes to stay still, especially outside.  Thankfully, he can also enjoy relaxing, chilling and watching some shows or snuggling and reading books.  Recently, he has started saying, "I need a break from..." whatever he's doing and then he will change gears.

Christmas Eve 2015
Even this last month, his growing vocabulary and skills are blowing me away.  He can say all and recognize most letters of the English alphabet and even say most of their sounds.  He can also do the same for a few Thai letters, though Mommy and Daddy don't work on those as much at home (since we don't know them yet ourselves).  He can count to 10 (most of the time) in both languages too!  It's fun to watch him learn and grow! He is currently mastering going to the potty exclusively and riding his tricycle. 

He is kind.  He is loving.  He is fearless and brave.  Others describe him as wild and busy.  We are thankful to the Lord that he is healthy, strong-bodied and strong-willed.  Well, at least, people tell us we'll be thankful for the last one eventually.  For now, he keeps us laughing, busy, tired, but full of joy.  And we remain incredibly grateful to the Lord for creating and sustaining his life and choosing us to be his parents.  

Happy 3rd Birthday, Tyndall James!

Birthday cupcakes at dinner on 12-28-2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tyndall Adjusting to Nursery

(Originally written in Spetember)
The first week, Matt and I had trainings and orientations during the day.  As a part-time teacher, I didn't have to go to all of them but most.  Our friend Ro watched Tyndall a lot of the time the first couple days, but one of the days she wasn't able to.  So, I took him to the Thai nursery for the first time. 

That was hard for my Momma heart... It was just for an hour, but I knew it would all be in Thai.  He was in a new country--lots of new surroundings, new language and new people. He did well the first time since it was just for about an hour.  The next day was a couple hours and the next day was a few hours more.  

The next week, we started easing into our work schedules.  I work full school days on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Those were long days for him.   He started crying when we dropped him off which was brutal. And I would get reports throughout the day that he was crying a lot. We were really struggling with whether or not Nursery was the best situation for him.  It didn't help that none of the other teachers' kids were in school that week.  

Once school started, it got a little bit better where he wasn't crying as much through the day.  He also got on the schedule with the other nursery kids where he was taking naps with them too... that has made a world of difference! It also helped that the Nursery class changed to a new classroom... a bigger, brighter classroom that is not within eyesight of Matt's class building.  (Tyndall used to stand at the nursery door and get upset when he saw Matt go in or out of his classroom.)
in his school uniform
Now that we are about 10 days into school, it is going really well.  Tyndall didn't even cry when I dropped him off this morning.  He is absolutely adorable in his nursery uniform.  And I love that he is learning Thai AND Chinese and is in a fun, structured, loving environment.  It also helps that he's super close. He's making friends and even talks about his teachers and nursery friends when he's not there.  So thankful we decided to stick it out.  

with Kru Nok on a Thai-style Friday

Update: We are 3 months in, and the child LOVES Nursery!  He talks about it all the time when he's not there.  He talks about his friends. He sings songs from 'school' and busts out with Thai words randomly at home.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Settling In

Have we really been here almost a month?!  Wow! It's cliche but true: some days it feels like forever and others feels like we just arrived.  

Here are some of the bullet points from getting settled in:
  • We arrived really late and were missing a bag.  Took awhile to get that figured out, especially in another language. We are truly so fortunate that English is so universal. 
  • We met up with another new teacher in the airport who I had 'met' on Facebook prior to arriving.  That made it a little more fun waiting for the school van and getting together with the other couple who flew in that night. 
  • We got to the school (our new home) really late on Saturday night, and we spent a few hours getting acquainted with our new place.  
  • Jet lag was rough the first few days.
    • Our townhouse is on campus, fairly close to the gate. Above an office, beside the textbook storage room, you take a few steps up to our door. Up that first flight of stairs, you find our living room, bathroom and kitchen.  It was recently remodeled and looks great!  
    • Up another flight of stairs is the 2 bedrooms.  Tyndall's room has a twin bed and a wardrobe and dresser.  Our room has a king bed with 2 wardrobes, a dresser, and a desk.  
    • 3 rooms in our house have 'air-cons' which help cool the rooms down.  We are not supposed to leave them on when we are out of the room.  The 3rd floor rooms get especially hot, but we have learned to turn on the air-cons awhile before we go up for the evening. 
Went to Big C first thing when we woke on up Sunday for 'essentials'.
  • A couple weeks into being here, we learned that we are not supposed to be flushing our tp.  That has been an adjustment. 
  • The campus has changed so much and is much nicer!  
  • As we expected, we LOVE having playgrounds so close.  And having other families around who are in the same boat.  

  • We have spent a lot of time with 'familiar' faces from our first time here and also getting to know others.
  • The town is changing a lot.  Growing UP (there are skyscrapers we can see from our house!) and out. Several teachers live off campus now which is different than before.  Apparently the BTS (sky train) is being built really close to here now.  
  • Big C is still the go-to store, which is a short tuk-tuk ride away.  The most immediate area hasn't changed much at all... the main difference is in the people.  I noticed today most of the workers in the street shops were looking on their smart phones... such a paradox.  Live chickens and fresh eggs and no advanced sewer system... but smartphones.  
  • I think the biggest, noticeable change for me has been the community of the school.  I'm sure most of that is because we are mow and old, married couple with kids.  But the general campus makeup is now families.  There are almost more kids than adult who make up the 'farang' (foreign) community.  Very, very different from 2008-2009 where most teachers were fresh out of college. 
  • Jet lag had Tyndall up before 6am most mornings the first week. 
    Lots of snuggling in bed and watching shows on the iPad.
  • I LOVE watching Tyndall embracing life here.  He's fearless.  No surprise there.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

GoodByes and Closure

Our families are awesome.  Our friends are beyond great.  Our life in Charleston was good.  It made leaving very hard.  Especially because we were making new friends through the leaving, or reconnecting with old ones.  

Our special friend, Jaylen. He has been at out house almost everyday for the last year+.

When we just began discussing the idea of heading back to Thailand, one of my fears/hesitations was how FAST it was going to be.  We knew we would need to be in Thailand at the beginning of August, and it was the end of June when this came up.  I talked to one of my good friends, Kristen Fransman, who was also in the process of moving overseas for missions.  She said in some ways, she wished it would have been faster.  Preparing for over a year and a half was difficult in lots of ways.  That made me feel better.  And I knew it was probably easier on my heart to not drag things out.  Maybe harder on those we were leaving though.  

July was FULL of tasks and packing and details, but it was also full of visits and special memories.  I was intentional to soak things up.  Enjoyed watching Tyndall playing with his cousins, with our neighbor Jaylen, with my business helpers Adrienne and Bekah.  Enjoyed coffee and breakfast dates and family dinners and rides in the car.  Taking in the little, everyday things that usually just fly by.  It was special to be able to soak up those moments.  

Those things made it easier to let go of the cars, the house, the 'stuff'.  Majorly downsizing my Mary Kay business was one of the hardest for me.  At first, it almost kept me from coming.  I invested a lot of time, money, energy and prayers into my business for over 2 years.  It was hard to be asked to let go of that.  Eventually, I felt "released".  I'm so thankful I had a year-end celebration with my unit and got to see most of them.  I'm thankful that our meetings in Charleston had some special time for me to say goodbye.  Though I'm not fully done with Mary Kay, it will be very different.  

Rehoming Zoe was difficult.  Thankfully, Zeb made the arrangements and found a family for her who is perfect.  Mom and "Aunt" Brenda made the actual exchange which also made it easier.  The hardest part was Tyndall asking for her.  When we would come home from somewhere, he would say, "Zoe, we're home!" and wonder why she didn't come see us.  We told him Zoe had a new family, and he would be okay with that.  We told him we were moving to Thailand, and he always asked who else was coming.  Precious boy.

The GoodByes were very hard.  Very hard this time.   I know Tyndall is going to be so different the next time most of our family sees him.  I know our nieces are going to change so much.  We know things will change.  That's hard.  Pray for all these relationships and transitions.  We miss our family so much already, and it's really just the beginning!