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!  

Here We Are Again! (Thailand)

It's our 12th day in Thailand, so I figure it's time to start catching up and processing/documenting things before I get too far behind!  

I LOVE having the blog book from this blog last time around, so I know this will eventually be a great resource of looking back and remembering the great things God does! An "Ebenezer stone" of sorts.  

I guess I should start with how we got here.  I remember being on the beach one day with Matt and Tyndall.  We did it a few times this summer, which was super nice.  We were talking about our long-term goals for our family and our dreams for the future.  Our current situation (at the time) was not sustainable.  Matt was working 3+ jobs, and we literally had opposite schedules.  Our family time was pretty limited, and we felt very stressed and worn thin.  It was not fun seeing my husband like that when he is generally such a laid-back, easygoing guy.  So, we had known that something needed to change and had been tossing around options for awhile.  

On our beach day, (June 23rd), we decided for sure to sell our house and simplify our life.  Get rid of STUFF.  Live more simply.   We met with our realtor the next morning and were thrilled with finding out the state of the market and our house's value.  We could pay off all of our 'bad debt' and start fresh.  But the "where do we live?" was harder to answer. We talked about what we wanted... to live with more purpose. To be able to do ministry as a family.  We looked into Cares again.  We looked into other schools overseas, and we even applied to a few.  And then we started talking about being back at GES.  For some reason, it seemed quite obvious.  Things would already be somewhat familiar.  We would know some people already.  It wouldn't be as HUGE of an adjustment as the first time since we would already somewhat know what to expect.  Within that next week, we applied, we interviewed, and we were offered positions.  (Matt's IDEAL position, by the way, which wasn't available when we first started interviewing only a few days earlier!) We had lots of conversations in the meantime and started throwing the idea around to family... Tyndall and I actually were able to be with my family in Saluda the weekend of July 4th which was wonderful family time!  While I was there, the house went under contract after only 4 days on the market. 

So we decided. Back to GES. It was confirmed in our hearts, in our spirits in so many ways.  Just a few days later,  the house contract fell through... time for the 'test'.  Did we really want to go? Was this the right timing?  Lots of prayer and conversations and Scripture, and we still knew we were to go.  So we continued selling all our things, closing down my Mary Kay business, preparing to go.  Visas, passports, original documents all mixed in with the details of selling a house and packing up our household.  Then the house was under contract again, after only 5 days this time.  I was VERY happy to be done with showings.  Keeping the house tidy and leaving for extended periods of time with Zoe and Tyndall was harder than I imagined it would be.  :)  But, we made it, and it was a pretty short amount of time.  Thank You, Lord!  

The whole process was only a few weeks... less than 5 weeks.  Kinda crazy.  Very faith-stretching.  Very humbling and even painful in some ways.  But, through it all, we pray we are being made more like Jesus.  Less earthly stuff.  More focus on eternal matters.  As hard as it is to leave family, especially this time with Tyndall, we knew we were supposed to be heading into this new, different season. So, here we are again!