Monday, February 13, 2017

A Day at the Barn

Today was a special day. I didn't know how much it would mean to me to share a barn with my son. It was unexpectedly awesome.

I spent a lot of time at barns when I was young. 4th grade is when I got the horse bug, and I was pretty obsessed for a few years. Outside of school, it was pretty much horses and volleyball.  This carried through college when I spent a couple of years on our school's equestrian team competing at other universities. For our school, it was a club sport but the competitions were funded by the school, and we got to travel to huge universities and spend days at their awe-inspiring barns and equestrian training centers. One year, I was the team manager which my brother-in-law branded as equestrian team cheerleader to irk me. It's still a thing. 

Anyway, today was so cool. I got to spend a few hours at a stable with some students and their families--and Tyndall. 

The smells. The dirt. The manure. The hay. The leather. The tack. It was so very familiar yet not. Because we are in Thailand, and everything is different on this side of the world. Yet not. Because the horses/ponies/dogs of the barn were so very familiar. 

You know what else? My dad often made the trips to be at my horse shows. I have several special memories of him watching me ride. And today I got to watch Tyndall ride, and it made me feel close to my dad. I'm tearing up even as I post this. It was so unexpected but delightful. A day I will treasure for a long time. 

Tyndall? He was okay. He was proud that he was brave to ride the pony. He liked the cool stuff he got to wear, especially the gloves. He was nervous and wanted me to walk beside him. I did for awhile but then let him go by himself. Then he was bored and wanted to go faster. Or get off. He tried to get off, but then it was his turn to go into the trotting area, so he decided to give that a try. When the instructors and leads had the pony trot, he liked it but his hat was too big and flopped around a lot. He was ready to be done after that, so I let him be done. He was more excited about petting the horses and the hedgehog that my student Nut brought to the barn and the barn dogs. Tyndall is definitely a lover of animals. I'm so very thankful for that! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tyndall James is 4 Years Old!

Tyndall James is 4 Years Old! 

Nicknames:  T, T-man, T-baby,  Bubba, "Su-Tin", Ty, "Kendo", "Tindon"

Swinging with Eddie at school
Favorite things to do:  play with Friends, play outside, watch shows, go on adventures, dress as a superhero, take "baths", play on mommy's phone, dig for bugs, "help" in the kitchen, play in mommy's classroom, try to catch animals, ride his tricycle, go to play places like Kidzooona
Finding worms with Mommy

Favorite books:  Go, Dogs, Go!, Miss Nelson is Back, Bernstein Bears & the Spooky Old Tree, "How Do Dinosaurs...", Goose Goofs Off, Where's the Dragon, Dinosaur Police, other dinosaur books, the UsBorne "Shine-a-Light" books that we have, and many, many more!


Favorite toys:  CinnaBear! (might even be his best friend), dress up clothes, any containers to collect bugs and flowers and leaves, other stuffed animals, matching game, Go Ape game, cars, Play Doh, train set, play kitchen, dinosaurs, the rocket tent he got for Christmas

Favorite TV Shows/Movies:  Bo on the Go, Paw Patrol (lately he's saying it's boring), Peppa Pig, Home Alone movies, Lion King movies, Aladdin, Frozen, Despicable Me 1 & 2, Jake & the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,
Spongebob, Grinch


Loved the Easter Egg Hunt this year--especially the candy!
Favorite Foods:  He still eats a lot at school but not much at home. Rice, noodles, chicken, eggs, cheese, "chocolate milk" aka protein shake, lots of fruits (persimmon is a new favorite), veggies (likes raw peppers).  He also loves sweets.  Candy & cookies & crackers are often requested.  He will eat basically anything we put in front of him, but not much of it in one sitting. 
with Trevor and Landon at Finderland
Friends:  Boyda kids (Keaton, Landon, Trevor, Jillian), GES kids (Bauers, Andreassens, Wattanabanjongkuls, McLatchers, Brights, Gurnetts, and anyone else on the playground). P'Nui, Mr. George, Binda, Jishah & Johnny, K1B friends: Eddie & Ellie, Yuki, Sa, Shita, In-In.  His cousins in America. He makes friends very easily.
With Sadie and Kayte this summer in America
Favorite Sayings:  Can I touch it?  (in reference to any animal that he sees); I LOVE this or I HATE that; that's so pretty; that's BOOOTIFUL; body parts (ugh!); No; That's a Poooooooooor Choice; (lots of questions, conversations about death--probably due to the King of Thailand's recent passing); I DON'T WANNA...; Oh!  That's a good idea.; Right?
Got into Mommy's makeup
Things he doesn't like:  Loud, unexpected noises; anything that's not his idea; being touched by strangers (happens a lot in Asia to a blonde boy); being told he has to do something; hearing no.


Things that happened while he was 3:  Changed from Nursery class to K1B class (did better with more structure and more English); Mommy started working full-time, so T got an after-school nanny "P'Nui" who has become part of our family; First SongKran celebration; Had first visitors from America (Emmy and Sheila); Stephy & Bubba came to visit, and we explored SE Asia together (went to Cambodia & Malaysia); saw Angkor Wat and held & swam with sea turtles; spent the summer in America (lots of playdates, family time, pools with friends, and playing with dogs); back to GES and K1B for a full year; went on a beach trip with friends; first sleepover at Boydas'; performed in Christmas program without crying and running off stage; had a big birthday party with friends.
Holding a turtle hatchling before releasing it in Malaysia
Silly faces in his Thai outfit 
This past year definitely held less changes than his previous year but still some adjustments.  He is pretty resilient with all the new things with school and our home life.  For this first time in his life, mommy has a full-time job "away" from home, but he has handled it super well.  It probably helps that we see each other throughout the day and my classroom is only 143 steps from our house.  He knows where to find both mommy and daddy when he wants us.  But, he's usually pretty content to play after school with his friends on the playground or at home once he has checked in.  

Riding the golf cart in America this summer
He has been described this year as a "ring leader" and "life of the party".  He still gets lots of energy from being around people, but is becoming more self-aware about needing some down time too.  At his birthday party, he took some time away so he could "chill".  In our first parent-teacher conference with Mr. Jaspher, we learned a lot about how he has grown in the last year, but we also learned about how that day he had "led an uprising" at naptime.  So, we are aware of some ways to trust God with his strong personality! :) 
On a boat in Thailand with Uncle Steven and Aunt Stephy
Bedtime has become more structured and are some of my favorite times with him.  He thinks of amazing questions or lets us in on what's he's thinking about.  Of course, sometimes bedtime is a nightmare, too, and we wish we could understand what made it different.  He keeps us on our toes, for sure!  
He loves dress-up!
One other meaningful thing about this year is that his birthmother contacted us over the summer.  It was the first we had heard from her in over 3 years, and it has been wonderful to be back in touch with her.  We are enjoying getting to know more about her and her family and trust that Tyndall will treasure these contacts as he gets older when/if he wants to know her better.  
 
with Sadie and Sawyer on July 4th

He is kind.  He is loving.  He is fearless and brave.  Thais often describe him as naughty and busy.  We are thankful to the Lord that he is healthy and has gained a whole pound this year!  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. 
Holding a python at GES Christmas program.  Zero fear. 


Happy 4th Birthday, Tyndall James!
Christmas Day 2016



Friday, December 30, 2016

Interview with Tyndall on his 4th Birthday

Well, the day after his 4th birthday.  
1. What is something mommy always says to you? Don't eat something.
    What is something daddy always says to you? You're not having the balloon. (Note: ?)
2. What makes you happy? When I don't have spankings.
3. What makes you sad? Nufing.
4. What makes you laugh? When you tickle me. 
5. How old are you? Four!
6. How old is Mommy? 12.
7. How old is Daddy? 16.
8. What is your favorite thing to do? to play! play trucks, tracks
9. Who is your best friend? Keaton! and Ezra, and Eddie and Elinor. No, not Elinor. (Note: Sorry Ellie)
10. What do you want to be when you grow up? Daddy!  (Note: awwwwww)
11. What are you really good at? helping
12. What are you not very good at? not helping
13. What did you do today? Go to Children's museum (Note: that was yesterday)
14. What is your favorite food? Chocolate cake.
15. What is your favorite song? Jesus Loves Me.
16. What do you want for your birthday this year? another teddy bear, please
17. What is your favorite animal? Horse. No, not horse.  Lions!  Do you like lions, Daddy?
18. What is love? I hate.
19. What does daddy do for work? Nufing. 
20. Where do you live? at Thailand.
21. Where is your favorite place to go? That's too many questions!

Thai Adoption {So Far}

We had such a great time with our family in the States over the summer-- catching up with friends, shopping, hanging out and watching HGTV.  Lots of things that were definitely "treats" for us.  It was priceless seeing Tyndall WITH his cousins--from the backyard pool days to the tickle fights on Grandma's floor.  Those experiences will be some of my favorite memories of all time. 

Of course, there were challenging moments.  Times we questioned our ability to parent AT ALL, much less (an)other child(ren) from hard places.  There was even a time I decided we should probably withdraw our names, BUT GOD.  Within hours, God used multiple things to confirm in my heart, through His Word, through my husband, blogs and many other things... We are meant to pursue it.  To do what we can to be a family for one(s) who need us.  The specific one(s) God has for us.  

So, anyway, I thought it was about time to "document" the process.  Here goes:
  • Even before coming back to Thailand in 2015, we knew we would pursue adopting here.  It was part of our reason for coming back. 
  • Once here, we quickly connected with a couple who was in the process and got paperwork and got information on what to do.  (And more importantly, buddies to share the process with. Unfortunately, their adoption was not approved, but they are still very much part of this story.)
  • We knew we had to wait 6 months of living here before we could start the process.  So in the first 6 months, there was just a lot of adjusting to living back in Thailand and praying and dreaming about our future kids. 
  • January 31st marked our 6 months in Thailand when we could have submitted paperwork.  At the time, I was consumed with adjusting to teaching full-time and just couldn't get everything together.  I was also nervous because our friends' adoption had recently been denied, and we had another family start the process who were told they were not qualified.  Since both of these families are AMAZING families, I struggled awhile with not understanding the reasoning and wondering if we were really meant to pursue it.  
  • In February, we worked to start gathering documents and getting things ready for "the list" (one of the 3 versions we were working from at the time of things needed to submit with your application for InterCountry Adoption in Thailand). 
    • We got physicals from a local doctor. 
    • We got psychological evaluations and official letters from a psychiatrist about our ability to parent. (Even though we sometimes question it ourselves! haha!) 
    • Gathered LOTS of documents for our Thailand and USA/FBI background check.  
  • In March, we got serious and set the goal of having everything ready to turn in on the 31st.   
    • We had our fingerprints done (old-fashioned ink style) at the "Royal Thai Police Headquarters" which involved a lot of hand motions and using Google translate :) 
    • Gathered many other documents and racked our brains about details of our lives that are complicated when you move around as much as we have. ;)
    • Submitted our paperwork to the FBI for our USA background check. (Still waiting to get this back.) 
    • It was in March that our friends told us about an orphanage they became connected to, and we got connected to the Australian couple who started it and started learning about their hearts for the kids there.  We started to think this might be the place that our child(ren) come(s) from.  And praying for the kiddos there no matter the outcome.  
  • On March 31st, we both took off work and went downtown to the Child Adoption Center to meet with a social worker and officially start our file.
    • We really liked the social worker who was assigned to us.  When we first met, she asked a lot of clarifying questions about our application. 
    • She seemed surprised that our application was "different" in that we said we are open to boy(s) or girl(s), sibling sets, and ages 3-7, with special needs.     
    • We told her about the orphanage we had learned about and how we thought it might be a good fit, and she said that was an option but wanted to know if we were open to other kids as well.  We said we are.
    • At this time, we received an "official" list of what is required for the full adoption application. And an email address for communication that is used by ALL the social workers in the organization.  (Didn't exactly walk away with warm fuzzies on that one.) 
  • In April, we worked on finishing up everything required of us for our file:
    • We wrote a family history
    • We did pictures of our school and home and did explanations of where the kid(s) would live
    • We received an official request to have a Thai police clearance done from the adoption agency.  (We had attempted to do this at the same time as the FBI background check since most of the requirements were the same, but they required an official letter from the agency in order to be able to do it.)  
    • With official letter in hand, we went to our local police station to have fingerprints done (again, in old-fashioned ink style) and lots of paperwork done including a detailed listing of Matt's tattoos. Thankfully, our friend Jikky from school went with us to help us with translating because we would have been in trouble. 
    • We took another trip downtown to complete our Thai police clearance paperwork--basically we just had to have the forms verified from the local police station, pay fees in one building, turn everything in to another building, and then get a form from yet another building.  That was an adventurous day.  It was also our 2nd attempt at doing that particular task.  The first time we went, all of said buildings were closed for a holiday we had forgotten about.  
    • While downtown, we attempted to meet with our social worker again to turn in more forms. But she was unable to meet, so we ended up emailing the stuff in. 
  • In May, we got word that the documents had been received, and we got our official invitation to attend the "Workshop for Prospective Adoptive Parents" at the end of the month which is held only once a year.  We were very grateful to be able to attend in 2016 and not have to wait until 2017.  
    • The workshop was May 30-31 which happened to be during Stephani & Steven's trip.  It worked out that we were able to stay downtown together, and they took care of Tyndall while we were in the meetings.
    • The actual content of the workshop was good, but we also found ourselves very grateful that we have been to other adoption seminars and conferences.  
    • We met several other families in the process which has been a huge blessing and comfort in getting clarification on things.  
  • When we came back to Thailand in August, we got in touch with our social worker and scheduled our Home Study.  It was completed on August 29th.  At the end of that meeting, our social worker said that the next step would be to be matched.  She also said that since we are open to older kids with special needs, that it probably wouldn't take "as long" to be match.  But the average wait time is 2 years. 
  • In October, we called and checked in for an update which was a very confusing and discouraging call.  We understood that it would be 12-18 months before we would hear anything from them at all.  Looking back, some of it was probably cultural and language confusion.  
  • On December 23, we went to the adoption center and took a Christmas gift to our worker.  We planned not to ask about our file and just reconnect with her, but she shared that we were already on the waiting list and might hear something during the first couple months of 2017.   Trying not to set our hopes on that, but also getting very excited that 2017 will most likely be a year that our family grows!        

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Flagler Family Asia Adventure! Part 1-Thailand

Stephani and Steven arrived in Thailand late on May 26th. Their flights were smooth, and all their luggage arrived with them, which made the reunion at the airport extra sweet!
We came right back to GES where our friend Sarah was staying with Tyndall who had been too excited to sleep!  So he got to have some aunt and uncle snuggles in the middle of the night and stayed up a couple of hours because everyone was so excited.  We ate nachos and Face-Timed Mark and the girls and eventually settled in enough to get some sleep.  

Matt and I were still working the next day, but we took Steph and Steven to P'Nee's for lunch and to 7 for drinks and for a tour around the school.  When we were done with work, we took them on a tuk-tuk to the pier where we caught a water-taxi to KhaoSan Rd.  

At KhaoSan, Steph and I got fish pedicures. And we did some shopping and lots of snacking (coconut ice cream, fruit shakes, waffles on a stick) mostly while walking around in the rain.  For dinner, we met the Boydas at the robot restaurant at Central Westgate then had Coldstone.  Tyndall and I caught a ride home with the Boydas, but Steph, Steven and Matt went back to KhaoSan for more adventures.  


The next day was a Saturday and Matt and I taught our last Joy Club.  Steven and Stephani went exploring at BigC that morning while we taught.  For lunch, we went to SamSep, which is a restaurant owned by one of our student's family.  The food is delicious, and we ate a ton of it! Stephani said it was the best fish she's ever eaten. After lunch, we went to Chatachuk Market to explore but got lost and turned around more than usual. (It's the largest outdoor market in the world where we have gone quite a few times but still manage to get turned around, especially if looking for something specific.)  Amidst the wandering around, there was still lots of shopping and snacking.  After JJ, we came back to get Tyndall and then went to The Mall for dinner.  We just ate at the food court there and were going to get massages, but they didn't have any availability.  And then we were going to see a movie, but that didn't happen either.  So we came home to get ready for our next adventures.  


Sunday we took it easy in the morning while we packed for the upcoming travel.  We went to check-in to our hotel downtown Bangkok where Matt and I had an Adoption Seminar.  After checking in, we went to Beirut for Lebanese food.  Though we had a slight sidetrack at "Le Beirut Cafe" which is more French food, we eventually got pointed downstairs to the real Beirut, and it was sooooooooooooooooooo good.  I had heard about this place for years, and yes, it is worth the hype.  So, we all ate a ton of food to the point where we were too miserable to do much else.  But we headed to Siam Paragon to walk around.  That was such a cool thing because I had envisioned going there with Stephani and Steven for so long.  As expected, the luxury hall was ogled over, and the car stores (in the mall!) were drooled over by Steven.  From there, Tyndall and I head back to the hotel, and the siblings went on a tuk-tuk food tour which they all loved!  They went to a few different stops for different types of food but also got to visit different wats (temples) and learn about Bangkok history in between food courses.  


Monday, Matt and I were in Adoption training from 8-5.  We were a little bummed that this training fell during Steven & Steph's visit, but it also worked out because it meant Tyndall got to have some special time with them.  While we were in training, they slept in, had breakfast and then explored Siam Paragon on their own.  They went to the aquarium, had high tea, and did shopping.  Apparently Tyndall was a perfect angel.  We met up after training at Terminal 21 and ate dinner at Sunrise Tacos and then had leg massages (and a manicure for Steven) across the street before heading back to our hotel.  



Tuesday, Matt and I still had training, and Steven and Steph were sick of malls.  So they arranged for a Grand Palace tour with transportation by boat.  But there was some mixup (and probably tourist trap), so they didn't end up doing the Grand Palace but saw some of the temples downtown and went to some markets where Steven had some pants tailored.  
After the training and waiting around for said-pants to be ready, we made our way back to GES. Sadly, we got back after most of the local restaurants had closed, so we had a hodge-podge of a dinner while we packed for Cambodia and Malaysia.