Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Many Seasons of Bangkok

At almost 11 pm here, it's 86 degrees outside. Having just come in from LifeGroup, our house still is still quite warm. We are not allowed to have the a/c on unless we are actually IN a room.

Anyway, thought it would be interesting to share with you about the seasons here.

Right now, in the States, leaves are changing colors, evenings are cool, and days are pleasant. This is my favorite time of year in the States because you can wear sweaters and flip flops at the same time and still be perfectly comfortable. Plus, it's just beautiful!

Even though it's almost November, it's quite warm here in Bangkok. To some though, it is 'summer'. The school is on a two-week break right now. Matt and I are teaching during this break, and it's actually referred to as 'summer school'. It feels weird. But, it's true. Last two weeks of October are 'summer school'.

Then, on the way to lunch today, we walked by a Toyota dealership. There are SNOWFLAKE decorations in the window. Snowflakes. In Bangkok!! Awesome. The funny part though, is that right below the snowflake decorations are flower decorations. It's like they were saying, "Yeah, we know it's never going to snow here in Thailand... so, here are some flowers to be a little more realistic." I got a kick out of it!

So, here we are. We hear about Summer and see Wintry Wonderland in the same day. Maybe Fall will show up eventually. :)
P.S. The picture above is from one of my favorite places in Uz... such beautiful Fall leaves!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thai Beauty


Apparently, in Thailand, you are seen as more beautiful if you are pale. Check out this whitening lotion... a stark contrast to the tanning lotions that are so popular in America. I see billboards like this frequently. It's interesting to me how beauty is all about perspective.

Happy Birthday, Caedmon!


What is one thing that's worth losing sleep--lots of sleep--over? Kids!

Some friends from Charleston who live in another Asian country were flown here about a month ago with pregnancy complications. They already have two kids, Kate who is 3 and John David who is 14 months. Kelli started going into labor at 31 weeks, but when they got to Bangkok, doctors were able to stop the labor.

Kelli was in and out of the hospital this past month, waiting to be further along in pregnancy so that the baby boy would be healthier. The last 10 days or so, Kelli was out of the hospital and able to be at the hotel with John and the kids. As of yesterday, she was 35 weeks along. This was a huge answer to prayer!

Last night, around 10:00, we got a text asking if we were still able to be 'on call' to watch the kids when Kelli was ready to deliver. We said, of course.
Around midnight, we went to bed, texted them a reminder that we would have the phone on. Around 1:40, the phone started ringing. Yep, it was time.

Matt and I threw on some clothes and went to the street to find a taxi, which, thankfully, wasn't as hard as it probably should have been at that hour. We arrived at their hotel in 25 minutes-- record time. (Once when we had gone to babysit, it took over an hour and a half to get there!)

Anyway, Kelli and John left for the hospital immediately. At 3 or so, I texted to check on them. Labor wasn't too far along, but they still thought the baby would come today.

He did! I woke up at 6:30 am to a text saying "He is here!". Shortly afterwards, the other two kids woke up.

When I went in to wake up little Kate, she was already awake. She said, "you're here!" And I said, "Yep, do you know what that means?" Kate: "Mommy's having the baby!!!" Me: "That's right, actually he's already born." Kate: "I prayed last night to Jesus that he would come soon... so we can go back home. I prayed, and he came!" Me: "That's right, sweetie, God answered your prayer."

(John and Kelli had already told us about that prayer, and it was a sweet reminder to me of a child's faith and of God's willingness to answer our prayers.)

Then she started a long rant of things I could tell her parents had prepared her for: "when baby Caedmon comes out, he's going to be all bloody, but then they're gonna clean him and then they're gonna wrap him up and put a hat on him, ... and then Daddy's gonna come over here and say 'Kate, let's go see baby Caedmon.'" I cannot tell you what this was doing to my heart! Precious! Meanwhile, John David, the little man was standing up in his crib just a smilin' away!

I'll be less detailed about the rest of the morning... but you can see for yourself what part of it entailed. Be sure to notice the "I'm a big sister!" shirt. This girl was born to be a big sister! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

!Birthday Weeks!

Isn't that how everyone does it? Birthdays are celebrated all week, right? :)

Growing up, birthdays at our house were the BEST! You would wake up to someone attacking you with butter (not sure why, that's just what we did--mom can you explain that one?), go downstairs or to wherever the breakfast area was. The house would be decorated. There would be special breakfast. Maybe not presents but definitely cards and decorations... something that made it feel different than a regular day.

Sadly, as I'm growing up, birthdays don't seem so exciting. I still love them, but it seems that not everyone has the time to cele
brate all week with you.

I am definitely NOT writing this as a 'oh, sad' kinda post. I just thought I would reflect on some of my most memorable birthdays.

--sleepovers, skating rinks, money machines, 'raiding the pantry', jumping on the trampoline at all hours of the night (this is mostly for my sisters, Megan, Lisa, and anyone else from that era who may read this.) :)
--hockey games (middle school era)
--joint Sweet 16 parties with Maeg Ryan and Josh. Yes, note the PLURAL. We had a big dinner at Fonduely Yours for just mine... a joint bowling/driving the classic car all night party with Maeg Ryan, then a joint party for family with Josh.
--18th birthday was a huge blowout. we rented out a farm that belonged to some family friends and just had a huge cookout. i think over 80 people came to that--even some family from out of town. that was a blast!
--19 was fun... my first one at college. Mom secretly sent a box of deco
rations to my roommate. Steven took me out to a nice dinner, and we came back to the dorm room, which had been decorated and filled with friends and goodies! My roommate, Philly's birthday was the same week, so I think we kept the decorations up for like a month!
--21 was very memorable. I spent the weekend hiking up a daggum mountain. which for some of you is not a big deal... but I've been a big girl most of my life. I had lost a bunch of weight that year and decided to spend the day hiking up Table Rock with my best friend Ginger. We had such a great time, and it's definitely one of those trips that we always refer to. I'll spare you the details, but even though I had shed a bunch of pounds, I was still not in tip-top shape. But we made it, and it was exhilarating!
--22 was great! i was leading a Bible Study with a great group of girls. Some of them cleaned my entire apartment during the day, then we went on a mini-road trip to go to this really great Mexican restaurant. they had fun decorations, yummy cake, and just a good time! --23--Uzbekistan! this is one of my favorite birthdays too! I woke up, and my roommate, Debbie, had decorated the house, baked special muffins! We had only been in the country for a few weeks, so I saved a shirt to wear for my birthday (i.e. it still smelled fully clean)! the day was just really fun, and my team really helped make it special. Emily and Forrest made some great food, and we just enjoyed hanging out (picture), playing Texas Hold 'Em (my first time!). I felt very special. 24--awesome trip with friends and Matt to
Gatlinburg for the weekend! again, awesome.
(Picture to right)



Also dinner with friends in Raleigh at PF Changs, one of my favorites. :) (Picture below)









Okay, so I realize this is getting lengthy. I just wrote this all to say that I love birthdays! I hope I'm never one of those people who refuses to celebrate. I think it's fun to be extra-excited about life during the week of your birthday. :)

So, thanks so much for all of you who have helped make
this birthday week special!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Bank Run

I had an hour and fifteen minute break yesterday, and I REALLY needed to transfer money back to the States. I thought it would probably be about a 45 minute process, at most, so I went ahead and did it. Keep in mind, I've never done this before, and I was going on the advice that "it's really not a big deal and won't take long." I figured my 45 minutes left enough time for me to stop somewhere and get something to drink afterwards.

First of all, in order to do business at the bank, I needed my passport, which the school office had. It took about 10 minutes for the office lady to find it, so I was down to just over an hour for my break. I caught a taxi in front of the school, carefully noting that I only had 70 Baht with me (about $2). The taxi ride should have been about 50 Baht... but I didn't know exactly where I was going.

So, we got lost, and every time I tried to give directions to the taxi driver, Uzbek words came out of my mouth--which is not very helpful in Thailand. Though I'm thankful that I can remember so much Uzbek, it's really frustrating that it seems to be the only foreign language my brain has room for these days.

The taxi meter climbs up to 83 Baht, and he pulls over to ask someone where the closest Bangkok Bank is. He then drives me to it. Unfortunately, it's not THE branch where you can transfer money. This is Thailand after all, and you can't just go anywhere to transfer money. So, I get on my cell phone and call someone who tells me how to get there. Eventually, the taxi driver and I finally understand each other, and he gets me to the right place.

Only now, the taxi meter is at 112 Baht, and I only have 60. It's also 38 minutes into my hour and fifteen minute break. I ask the taxi driver to wait. Because I can just get more money while I'm inside and use that to pay him after he takes me back to the school.

I walk in the door to what I think is the bank, but it's only the Parking garage. You have to go up the stairs to the actual bank. Once inside the bank, a helpful woman approaches me and asks if she can help me. I say, "I need to transfer money to America." Everyone in a 10 foot radius starts laughing. I'm still breathing heavy from the stairs. Anyway, she points me to where I need to go.

The nice lady behind the specific counter helps me immediately and hands me the 4 forms that I have to fill out in order to transfer the money. Everything needs to be translated, but thankfully, I had all the necessary information with me. LOTS of information. So, after 20 minutes of sitting with the nice lady at the counter, my money has been transferred to America (I think).

I go back down to the taxi, but I had forgotten to get more money to pay him. So, I go back upstairs and head over to the ATM machines--only they are not ATM machines, they are "checkbook update" machines and "express deposit" machines. The ATM machines are downstairs. Of course they are.

I go back downstairs, to the ATM (outside of the parking garage door), get some money and climb back into the taxi. The driver didn't even ask me where I needed to go. Thankfully, he just assumed that he could drop off the poor foreign girl back where he picked her up. This was where I needed to be, only for some reason, he asked me WHICH DIRECTION to go: "U-turn or right turn?" he asked. "Leo- qua" I say, which means, "turn right." Whatever that means. I don't know which way is better.

Fifteen minutes later, I start thinking, oh dear, maybe U-turn would have been faster. I have 5 minutes to get back to school and walk back to where my next class is. I start thinking about calling the office and having someone cover my class because I'm lost, but that would be really embarrassing. I start looking for my cell phone anyway in my purse. Took a minute, but when I looked up after finding my phone, I recognized where we were. Not too far from the school.

The driver drops me off at the school, I pay him the 178 Baht with my new crisp bills, and I dash off to teach just in time.

So much for my quick bank run.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Couple of Things

Hey All,

1-- If you are 'subscribed' to this blog and receive something entitled, "What do these things have in common?", please ignore it. It was deleted from the blog but apparently still went out in email form. Sorry about that.

2-- In case you are hearing about the political protests going on here... it's definitely worth keeping up with... but it's not affecting our daily lives here. Except for the fact that we were told not to wear yellow shirts for awhile... this is definitely nothing to be sorry about. Two days a week was a little much to begin with. In case you're interested in finding out more about the situation, here's a link: http://www.theage.com.au/world/troops-move-in-on-bangkok-protest-20081007-4viw.html

3-- Praise God for 4 giant-spider-free days-- seriously, I do!

4-- Prayer request: Compared to a lot of things going on in the world, I know this is very minor... but it has become a big concern for me. At the moment, I do not have health insurance. The company denied me. The school applied on my behalf twice and received nonacceptance letters both times. The school finally called to ask why and was informed that it's because of my weight. Well, the school then mentioned to the insurance company that there is another teacher here who is also a 'big girl' (well, I don't know how they worded it, but that's what we call ourselves)... so, the insurance company checked into it. Instead of saying, "Oh, you're right. Since we insure her, of course, we can go ahead and insure Tricia too." They said, "Oh, yes, we checked, and you were right. We will cancel her insurance today. No refund."

As I said, it is minor compared to so many other things, but it is a distraction at the moment (along with the economy in the US and the fact that paychecks don't seem to go very far.) I'm also feeling a little guilty for affecting our friend's insurance situation too. Please just pray that this would be worked out quickly and effectively for all involved.

Thanks for keeping up with us!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

SsSsS...SPIDERS....SsSsS!!!

Ick! I freaking HATE spiders. But the ones that I encounter in Thailand really, really scare me. They are gi-normous! Huge!

My first giant Thailand spider encounter was when I was walking alone back to our house, through the school hallway. I noticed something moving to my left, and when I looked down, there was a spider, almost the size of my foot. Freaked me out! Though, I managed, out of fear, to just jump OVER it and continue home.

My second one was this Monday at our house. Just a giant spider was walking across our living room... Matt noticed it first and, thankfully, killed it quickly.

Third one was in Science class on Tuesday... one of the students killed it.
Fourth one was in English class on Wednesday... we had to take time out to kill the thing... 'twas HUGE! It got away. :(

Fourth one was today (1st picture).

This Not-So-Little guy was hiding in our toilet. Matt says to me, "honey, will you bring me the bug spray"... and I said, "Where is it!?!?!" Then he said to come and look, so I took the camera. Now I have a way to prove to you peopl e how big these things are. Needless to say, I am now afraid of going into any of our bathrooms! Fifth one: same day. (Just now actually). I was walking INTO a different bathroom and noticed something moving above my head... yep, it was this guy. Matt was out, so I had to wait for him to come home. It took him quite a while to kill this one... he was a brave spider and fought valiantly. He ran down the wall and up a few times before finally surrendering to the half a bottle of Raid that was sprayed on him. Shriveled up, he's about the size of the face of an ipod... seriously. Imagine what he was spread out in his days of glory. Ick!

Please, truly, pray for me to be able to deal with these things better. Apparently, they are just part of living here. :) Thanks, friends!