21 days? that can’t be possible

sidebar: i’ve been gone so long that i no longer recognise (my new fangled computer speaks the queen’s english and i find that rather quant.  eventually i might find it annoying and that’s when i’ll go about trying to figure out how to make it speak good ol’ american english) wordpress.  i’m not even sure how to work it.  but i’m sure i’ll get up to speed again – if i manage more than one post this time around.  end sidebar.  (i hope i’ve used the term sidebar correctly.  if not, oh well.)

so i was chatting with one of the kids’ teachers today and noticed a countdown on the wall.  a countdown for how many days of school are left.  if you guessed 21, you’re right.  which means 21 days until graduation.  c19’s graduation to be specific.  time keeps on moving right along, doesn’t it?

we have been preparing for it, sort of.  at least the school has.  we’re pretty lucky that the school takes care of ordering graduation announcements.

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because i haven’t been able to do much other than think about how all five us are heading to the states this summer and only four of us will be returning.  and that feels sort of impossible.  i know it’s all gonna work out.  he’s been accepted to university – his first choice (go him!)  and that school is close to family – and family is good.  but that’s only the first step.

we’ve still got to figure out the money.  the school gave an initial scholarship and yes, we’ve filled out our fafsa and it indicated that there should be some money for us – but should isn’t a very firm word.

and we’ve still got to figure out just how do we do this?  i know we’re not the first to do this, but it’s not really something someone can give you the play by play on because the experience is different for each of us.  (however, the tips i’ve gotten have been greatly appreciated. and knowing so many others have survived this transition makes it seem like we might, too.)

there are also the practical things like getting the stuff he needs for a dorm room.  making sure he has contact numbers for people he can reach in case of an emergency.  (not that his grandparents won’t do that, but it’s nice to have more than one number.)   and figuring out how he’s gonna make it without his momma. (that’s probably mainly my concern.)

but there are other just as important things that have to happen while we’re in the states.  a16 is gonna need to visit some colleges, most likely not her dream colleges, but we can see different kinds of campuses.  we’ve got some doctor-y type maintenance to see about.  and we’re gonna need to be sure we take time to just be a family.  which is hard to do when you’re couch surfing.  (we won’t exactly be couch surfing, but i feel cool saying that’s what we’re doing.)  we’re planning to get a good start on that – we’re gonna take a family vacation in japan before we head to the states.  but we also want to spend quality time with friends and family.   (each year that we are here i feel more of a need to work on the connections we still have in the states – and i’m really, really bad at it.  thankfully we have some amazing friends there who are very patient and determined to keep these relationships going.)

i keep thinking i’m going to get around to the actual planning of some of what needs to happen this summer, but i’m having a very hard time doing that because i want to be fully present in the here and now.  i have taken some baby steps – made contact and set loose-y goose-y dates for where we’ll be staying this summer – but at some point, preferably sooner than later, i’ve got to pencil in some concrete plans for this summer.

sort of like a field trip

…but without the adult chaperones.

this summer the kids headed to their grandparents’ house in america.  and to get there they had to fly. unaccompanied.  by themselves.  without parents.  i would say without adults, but one of them is an adult. (wow – i have an adult child).  but he’d never flown alone, much less with his siblings in tow.  to get to my parents house they had to manage four different airports, in three different countries.  but at least they were together.

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ticket counter in chiang mai

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security

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passport check

one of the airports was in frankfurt, germany.  where the drinking age for beer and wine is 16 and hard liquor is 18.  and since they were flying lufthansa that was the drinking age on the plane, too.  go c18.

they were there five weeks.  five weeks.  that’s a long time to be childless.  and it seems a long time for my parents, who have been childless for quite a while now, to have kids around.  but i wasn’t worried about that.  they all coped.  and they made memories.  and then they returned.

the oldest two returned together.  they left d/fw a little late.  which put them into washington d.c. a little late. a little too late to catch their connecting flight to germany.  so they stayed overnight.  the airlines put them up in a hotel and gave them vouchers for food.  but at 1am they decided it would be a good idea to head out looking for a 7-11.  i haven’t heard a lot of positive things about the streets of our nation’s capital.  but they were fine.  got some snacks.  made their flight the next day.  instead of germany they went to tokyo.  and instead of about 8 hours in the air they got to fly for 14.  and they got to spend the night in the airport in bangkok.  they arrived in chiang mai a day later than planned, but they arrived.

the youngest returned with michael.  they had flight issues, too.  but nothing major.  their biggest problem was arriving without luggage.  but the luggage had all made it by the time we picked the big kids up.

all three kids made great memories.  my parents were awesome.  they really tried to find something that each kid would enjoy. however… if the occasion every rises for us to send the kids to the states again, we will definitely ask permission before booking the flights.  but i sort of think this was a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  next summer we’ll all be in the states and we’ll most likely be leaving one behind.  and then who knows what summers will bring.

can someone mail me a brown bag??

lately i’ve been finding myself in a bit of a panic.  time is marching on and i’m not liking it.  and even more than not liking it, i feel like i’m encouraging it – but what i want to do – with every cell in my body – is stop it.  c-17 is at the root of my panic.  18 months from now he graduates from high school.  and it’s entirely possible, even most likely probable, that he will head to the states to college.  and, by the states, i mean the united states of america.  the ones that are many, many, many thousands of miles away.

would i be feeling this way if we were living in america mid-term during his junior year of high school?  i’m not sure.  and why, 18 months out, am i panicking?  i don’t know.  maybe it’s because he’s off at the beach.  the beach in southern thailand.  without us.  i know he’s having a great time.  and i know he’s making great memories.  (and i’d be lieing if i didn’t admit to a few fleeting thoughts about what a cool mom i am letting him go to the beach with his friends over christmas break.)  he managed the overnight train from chiang mai to bangkok with a friend.  no adult help.  and together they managed to figure out a solution to the train being late and causing them to miss their connection to hua hin.  and they managed all this without a rescue call.  which is reassuring.  and i’m incredibly proud of him for being such a responsible kid – or rather young man, but i’m also a little bit sad that he managed that without me.

i know i’ll always be his mom, but the level of dependency is changing.  and all i can think is how much i’ve wished his entire life for him to be more dependent.  starting as a tiny baby.  i remember how happy i was when he slept through the night without me having to help him get back to sleep.  what a momentous occasion it was when he walked – knowing the days of me carrying him or pushing him everywhere in a stroller were coming to an end.  his first day of school (okay, that didn’t happen until the 4th grade).  and on and on go the milestones.  how i wished them to come.  and all that wishing has gotten us here.  to the point where he’s responsible enough to handle a trip like this without us.  to the point where we can even begin to fathom him living half way around the world without us.  it’s very possible my worries are unfounded.  that he’ll be fine.  that he’ll flourish.  (that’s what i’m hoping for.)  but what if he needs us.  what if it’s not all unicorns and roses (i know it won’t be all unicorns and roses and i also know that that’s not the actual saying.)  what then?  there’s not much we’ll be able to do to help.

and while it is still 18 months away, and it seems a tad silly to be so worked up over something that is 18 months away – i am most certain these will be the shortest 18 months of my life.

 

CU Boulder campus tour #1

c17 is starting 11th grade this coming fall – that seems impossible – and it’s fairly likely we won’t be back in the states before he graduates high school. so we figured now was as good as any to get in a few college tours. we started with the university of colorado boulder (CU). a good friend of ours attended school there and was more than happy to show us around. he also – very generously – drove us all up there. this required both of his cars and for him and his lovely wife to drive.

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CU has the prettiest campus i’ve ever seen. nestled right into the rockie mountains with lovely open spaces and beautiful buidings. and the 80 degree weather at the end of june is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

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we told him that it’s not likely we’ll see a prettier campus this summer. and he wasn’t really sure what he thought about it – since he’s not really in college mode just yet and this is the first campus he’s seen. we’ve got plans for 4 or possibly 5 more campus visits. we’re hoping that that will give him something to think about. and just in case he does decide on CU and i decide i need to go with him – i scouted out a few houses i could stand to live in.

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3 day weekends rock

and two of them in a row rock even harder.  and when they sandwich a 3 day school week they rock the hardest.  at least that’s how i’m envisioning this week.

no school today in observance of his majesty king bhumibol adulyadej’s 83rd birthday.  and friday the kids are out for constitution day.  (a holiday that does not require fire works – fingers crossed.)

so, what do we do on the monday of a three day?  head to the ortho – i’m a good planner like that.  i did follow it up with a trip to starbucks for a peppermint mocha for me and a peppermint signature hot cocoa for the one whose mouth is gonna be hurting soon.  pain that is totally worth it because – wow – her teeth look so straight. and i’ve been freed from the 24/7 wearing of the retainers.  the orthodontist said i was obviously a model patient.  heh, heh, heh.

other things we’ve done over this three day?  we’re trying to get our festive on – a few more decorations have gone up, the jesse tree is in progress (f.y.i., if a jesse tree is in your future, the instruction to get a small tree should include the words “but not too small”), i’ve even put some spray snow on a few windows. saturday night we watched rudolph the red nosed reindeer – the claymation version.  and i’m positive there’s material in there for an amazing mashup of hermey, the elf who dreams of being a dentist, and orin scrivello, dds (steve martin’s character in little shop of horrors.)

this evening c16 has play practice.  he has a performance on saturday night and needs a tan.  our people don’t tan and i’m pretty sure the chance of finding self-tanning lotion in a country where whitening is the thing is pretty much nil.  thankfully a friend had some she’d brought with her from the states.  looks like getting his tan on is gonna be project numero uno for the next three day.  well, that and a13’s birthday party.

Another Word Up, YO! post. This week’s word is “festive.” You can join in, too.

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next… the big screen

i’ve now made my acting debut.  and i was stellar.  or at least adequate. the kids’ school is putting on a christmas play

and i’ve been cast – if you define being cast as throwing your hand in the air and yelling “pick me, pick me” – in the role of mrs. mccarthy.  she’s a bit of a busy body, but she has a heart of gold.  (i ad-libbed that description – it’s very mostly accurate.)  one of the best parts of being in this play is that i spend the first half of it in my pajamas.  and then there’s the rash.  or lack there of.  when i was a kid i played the viola.  and before any and every recital, concert, audition, etc. i broke out in a bright red rash.  a bright red rash is hard to hide when you’re a very, very white girl.  so, for the first performance, i caked on the makeup – just in case i needed to camouflage the rash.  but guess what?  no rash.  i must have matured more than i realized.

c16 is also in the play.  he’s a herdman.  and he’s a very good herdman – i mean he’s good at being a herdman, because none of the herdmans are good at all.  and when he’s not a herdman he’s a backstage hand. he’s good at that, too.  tonight he took on the task of angel wrangling.  there’s a gaggle of 5th graders in the play and i’m not sure if they come in hopped up on chocolate or soda or what, because they’re mighty wound up.  (which could also just be the result of getting a gaggle of 5th graders together.)  and he took it upon himself to get them settled at the start of the play by story telling.  i walked backstage and came upon all the kids gathered around listening very intently to the story c16 was telling.  which, i’m sure, was perfectly appropriate for 10 and 11 year olds.

we had 4 performances this weekend.  there are two more to go.  one this coming friday – for the other international schools in our area –  and then the following thursday is the last public performance.  so, if you live in chiang mai and are around at 8pm on the night of December 9th, come on out and see us.  tickets are available at the door and there’s not a much better way to get into the spirit of christmas than watching the worst best christmas pageant ever!

the big mango – recapped

or the post where i throw a bunch of pictures at you with very little explanation.  or possibly lots of explanation – depending.

i’ve already explained how we took the train to bangkok on sunday night.  but instead of a train we were on a bus.  and we got a snack – room temperature soy milk included.  and i got a special kink in my neck.  that managed to get worse as the trip went on.

the bus got us to bangkok a few hours earlier than planned.  not being sure of what our options were at 6:45 in the morning we just headed to the guest house.  my highest hopes were that we’d able to leave our luggage and then maybe wander around looking for food.  but, surprise, surprise, surprise (think gomer pyle) we were able to get into our room right then.  and take naps.  which worked nicely because my priority numero uno was to be sure we were rested for the doctor’s appointments.

*this is the no picture part of this post – since i forgot the camera*

we were up and out by noon.  the front desk told us to allow 45 minutes or so to get to the hospital.  and being the type of person i am  (you know – one who highly values being on time) i figured i would allow an hour and a half.  which meant we had 2 hours before we needed to hail a cab.  so we headed out.  found subway for lunch.  rode the sky train to the mall area and had a quick look-see around.  we then caught a cab and headed to the hospital.  one and one-half hours before our appointment.  good thing we did, too.  because had we not made it to the hospital one hour and fifteen minutes early we would have missed out on an afternoon snack of au bon pon and starbucks.  we spent several hours at the hospital – we talked to doctors together, we talked to doctors individually, we compared notes and we waited.  once we were done at the hospital we caught a cab back to the guest house.  then we headed out for dinner.  after dinner we went back to our room and settled in for the night.  for the kids this mean cartoon network – a night of non stop garfield.  too much fun.  for me it looked a little more like passing out.  i think i got the better end of that deal.

the next morning we were up bright and early and shocked to discover that they quit serving breakfast at the ridiculously early hour of 9:30 in the morning.  since desperate times call for desperate measures we headed straight for au bon pon – a different au bon pon than the day before.  bagels turned into a bit of a theme for this trip. after we carb loaded we headed out for our big adventure.

*resuming pictures now*

starting with the sky train.

followed by ocean world.

after a rousing good time at ocean world it was snack time.  today’s snack was sponsored by coldstone creamery.  (by sponsored i mean we gave them mucho dinero and they gave us ice cream.  i’d forgotten just how yummy cake batter ice cream is.)

we also took advantage of the many photo opportunities provided at the malls in bangkok.  (yes, s11 is picking the nose of the big yellow head and he is giving the big silver guy/thing a purple nurple.  seems normal to me.)

we saw a guy and his squirrel.  just before this photo was snapped the squirrel’s hat was knocked off it’s head.  too bad.  and michael jackson. he kept his hat.

and that was all we could take in one day.

day #next.

this morning began remarkably like the previous one – breakfast was served too early and we were left with no other option than to start our day with carbs.

the plan for today?  a movie.  grown ups. and then a snack.  we took a gander at this line.  krispy kreme bangkok.  kraziness.

but instead settled on cinnabon.  which was turned out to be genius.  and delicious.

and off we headed to the train.  the train that was gonna bring us home.

until it changed it’s mind.

day #extra

it was getting very groundhog’s day.  breakfast – we missed it.  bagels – we had them.  today’s movie cats and dogs: the revenge of kitty galore.  we spent some time reading.  had some coffee.  no snack.  we picked up some chicken wraps and headed to the train station.  to be taken to a bus.  located not at the bus station.

i over paid for our tickets and i knew it when i did it, but it was only about 100 baht too much and i didn’t care so much about that at 1 in the morning.  the other guys on the bus with us?  they paid twice what i did.  that’s nutz.

we made it home.  the crick in my neck, well, if it didn’t hurt and if it weren’t keeping me from turning my head or raising my arms or sleeping well then it wouldn’t be a problem at all.