Oh, hi.

So it’s been a while… like a year and a half or so, but I’m hanging in here – until recently, like the last month or so, I would have added “barely” to that statement.  I feel like I’ve been hibernating and it’s now time for spring to get here.

I’ve got lots of reasons for my absence, but the biggest one is I don’t know how many ways I could say I just can’t function or even more, I don’t have the words to explain why I couldn’t function.

In the past 18 months…

I returned to America.  Not by choice, but at, what I do think, was a good time for our family.  And turns out many people had expectations of what this would mean and I found that very overwhelming so I responded in ways that could and did damage relationships.

I got a part-time job at World Market – great store, but also overwhelming to work retail at the holidays.

Then I spent Thanksgiving with my immediate family.   Michael arranged for Chan and Aly to make it to Colorado.  And there were friends there.  It was good. It was probably the first big positive in our return.

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And somewhere in this time, I discovered that I brought a great big ol’ helping of social anxiety with me when I returned to America.  I don’t know where or when I picked it up, but man I caught a massive case of it and it seems like it might be a permanent part of who I now am.

Christmas came.  Parts of Christmas were good.  When we heard we’d be returning to America I thought a few of the positives that would come with that would be time with friends and time with family.  We had a great Christmas with some awesome friends.

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We made it into the New Year – 2017, I was determined I would get things under control.  I didn’t.  But I didn’t give up.

In January of 2017, my older brother died.  It was devastating. Not because he died.  But because I’d wished him dead for many, many years and his death changed nothing other than to cause me more pain than he’d caused me while he was living.

The holidays were over, New Year was over.  I needed to do something that felt like forward motion so I got a job at Caption Call.  It was also part-time, so between my two part-time jobs, I had a full-time job.  And what’s the best thing to do when you have two part-time jobs? Find a temporary full-time job.  A temporary full-time job that is a Monday – Friday kind of job.   The kind of job that makes you quit your two part-time jobs.

In March of 2017, I started working at Compassion International.  Yes, the same place that Michael works.  The reason we were in Asia.  It was just the kind of job I needed.  Set hours and responsibilities that didn’t extend past the hours I was required to be at work.  In May of 2017, I was able to turn my temp job into a permanent job.

About this time Sam came to us and wanted to know if his graduation trip could be to Thailand.  He’d taken his GED and passed with flying colors with college credits and all that jazz.  When Chan graduated we took a family trip to Japan.  When Aly graduated we took a family trip to New Zealand.  Sam wanted to return to Thailand to see his friends graduate high school.   Michael and I thought this was a great idea, but it couldn’t be a family trip.  Finances and jobs wouldn’t allow for it.  So it was a Sam and mom trip.  It was a healing trip.  It was the first time I heard Sam speak of Thailand as his home and not as a place he’d never wanted to live.  It gave him an opportunity for closure.  It also gave me an opportunity for closure.  I saw friends.  I made my way along roads that for years had been home for me.  I saw life had gone on without me.  And that it was okay.  I returned from Thailand knowing Thailand was no longer my home and recognizing that I hadn’t made a home in America, either.

Life was painful.  Interactions with people hurt.  And that makes life very difficult.  When you want to put your best foot forward and make a really good impression, but every single time you try you fail, it doesn’t make life easier.  It’s caused me to mess up relationships with some neighbors and to not even try to have relationships with other neighbors.  It caused me to mess up relationships with friends and it’s caused me to mess up relationships with family.   It’s hard to navigate life when you feel like with every hello you say you owe that person an apology.    And when you see all the failed relationships around you and you see that the common denominator of them all might be? could be? is?  you, it’s crushing.

But that’s where I am. And the funny thing is that I do feel like I’m turning a corner.  Every day no longer feels like a challenge. I don’t think the tension of finding my home will ever go away, but I now know that I can live with that tension and thrive in that tension.

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Michael W. Smith is an idiot

Pretty much every summer of my teen years was spent at youth camp. It wasn’t uncommon for camp to end with the song Friends by Michael W. Smith. Everyone cried and hugged and the feels were so real because goodbyes were so hard. And then we all saw each other again on Sunday at church. At that time I thought goodbye meant that summer camp was ending and we wouldn’t be eating s’mores together until summer camp next year. I had no idea that goodbye could mean it’s most likely we will never see each other again. Ever. But I’m beginning to realize that it does. And the goodbyes don’t stop. They don’t stop. They do not stop. Almost every day I say goodbye to someone. Yes, some of them I just met the same day, but I’m at the point that every hello is really just a trigger warning that a goodbye is coming.

 

making a home

one of the things i’m looking forward to in colorado is making a home for our family.

i currently have three things hanging on walls in my house and they are all in odd locations because that’s where the nail or screw just happened to already be and that got me thinking…

when we moved to thailand we assumed we’d be here a long time.  a really long time, but we’ve never had a timeline.  we didn’t really know how long we’d be here when we arrived and each year came with either the promise of another year or the threat that we could be moving.  that makes it hard to create a home.  i’ve never put a nail into a wall here.  if something happens to be hung it’s because there was already a nail in place to hold it.  for christmas decorations we used temporary tape type things.  nothing permanent.  nothing that left a hole that would require filling in when we left.  we’ve lived in three houses here and i’ve painted one room.  the kitchen in the current house.  but it still doesn’t feel like my kitchen.  it’s just a borrowed kitchen i’ve painted yellow.

a while ago (while i was cooking christmas dinner) michael and i had a fight over a ladle.  i was cooking and i commented that i would be glad to not see this particular ladle once we moved.  he said that we should take it with us, a new ladle would cost money that we didn’t need to spend.  his statement might be true, but my only thought was that this ladle belongs in a kitchen that is in a house that’s never been our home (i also thought ladles are cheap and if i want a new ladle i’ll get a new ladle.)  i think it might have been the first time we had to think about our return being more than just a move.  while a lot of the steps are the same as the moves we’ve made in the past – making to do lists, packing boxes, arranging logistics… all that fun stuff – there’s something different on the other end.  something that i’m not totally ready to embrace, but something that i know will be good.

i’m looking forward to making a home.  i’m going to paint walls (lots of walls, but not all the walls) and i’m going to hang pictures.

 

 

 

 

making plans, dragging feet

time marches on.  it just won’t stop and i’d like it to.  i’d like to pull back on the reigns and say, “whoa” and have time stop.  and wait until i’m ready for it to move forward, but it won’t.  it just won’t.

right now i count the days by the thens.  michael’s in indonesia right now.  he’s been gone for almost 2 weeks and has another week to go.  then he’s home for a little less than a week.  then he’s in africa for approximately 2 weeks.  then he’ll be home for close to a week.  then he’s in america for 4 days.  (yes, he’ll spend almost as much time traveling for that trip as he will actually be there and he’ll spend way more time recovering from that trip than he will be there.)  then he’s home.  and for some reason that’s when time really starts for me.  time starts in april.  not sure what my mind thinks happens between now and then (mid Feb and early April), but for some reason it doesn’t feel real.  it doesn’t feel like progress.  about the same time michael returns from america family starts arriving.  aly (i cannot wait to see her, it’s been so long!!!), her boyfriend (we’ve never met him), my mom, and my aunt will all come to chiang mai.  and i’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that chan will also be coming (that feels like a bit of a long shot, but also not impossible).  we’ll have two weeks of family and tourist stuff and songkran and time not stopping.  overshadowing everything is the weight of “this is it”.  this is good bye.  this is our last smokey season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last hot season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last songkran (not always miserable and something i will definitely miss).  and i think what makes it harder is that it doesn’t feel like there are any firsts to come.  it isn’t our first time to live in america.  it’s not our first time to live in colorado.  it’s not even our first time to live in the house we’ll be returning to.  it feels like too much.  but it can’t be stopped.

so, we make plans.  there are the we need to sort this plans, the we need to do this plans – the logistical stuff that comes with moving.  those are sort of easy (easy to see, not necessarily easy to do.)  but then there are the we have to do this plans.  and they aren’t the same for all of us.  michael is ticking off some of his through work.  i know with each trip he makes he’s saying goodbyes.  and it’s not easy for him.   the hardest plan of all is the final how do we leave chiang mai plan.   figuring out how to do goodbye isn’t easy.

it’s much easier to say late july is forever away.

She graduated!!

Hi.  It’s been a while and a lot has happened while I’ve been away.

Our biggest 2015 news?  SHE GRADUATED!
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Academically? She definitely deserved to graduate.  But when it came to get out of bed and actually making it to class?  Well, that’s a different story.  Luckily for her it’s the school’s job to enforce their requirements and they aren’t so keen on doing that.  Go class of 2015!!

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In all seriousness – I am incredibly proud of her.  This third culture kid thing we signed her up for isn’t so easy and she has just plowed on through with very little complaining.  Senior year is hard for these kids and they know it and we know it and there’s nothing we can do about it but to bravely keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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Hopefully, in the next few posts, I’ll catch up on what’s going on with her and us since her graduation.

**Spoiler alert – In January she’ll start uni in Japan.

seven years

Seven years ago today the kids and I arrived in Chiang Mai and began fumbling our way through the ins and outs of living here.  The only thing that is still the same as that day is that we are still pretty much fumbling our way through.

So what are we all up to now?  Chan is 20 and living in America, he’s taking a semester off from college and working.  We’ll see where that leads.  Aly has just started her last semester of high school, she’s applying to colleges and trying to decide just where it is she wants to go.  She’s trying to decide between Japan and the U.S. – that’s a big decision to make at 18.  Sam is now 15.  He’s currently studying for his G.E.D.  We’re still investigating how to make that happen.  He goes to school for Drama and is enjoying that very much.  Michael’s still working for Compassion, that’s who we moved here with 7 years ago.  He still travels a great deal, but maybe it’s slowing down a bit for the time being.  He’s also finishing up his Master’s Degree.  He’s worked hard to keep all those balls in the air and he’s done a great job.  I’m still rehabbing from my hip surgery.  Things are coming along, but it’s slow going.  I’m coaching CrossFit classes and have even been able to do some of the workouts.  That’s progress!  I’m currently working to lose my rehab weight.  Rehab eating was lots of fun, but the pounds I gained aren’t helping my hip.  I’m doing a Whole30. I’m almost half way through my 30 days and am seeing positive results.  If you’re interested I’ve started another blog keeping tabs on what I’m eating and what I’m doing during these 30 days.  I’m not sure if I’ll continue it past the 30 days, but we’ll see.

What does the future hold?  We’re not sure.  We know we’ll be back in the U.S. this summer for a few weeks, but we don’t have any plans to move back.  It’s kind of the same time line we’ve had since we moved here, we just don’t know.

Seven years has passed crazy fast.  We fumble through fewer things, but also find more things to fumble through.  I think that might be a never ending struggle.

2009

2009

2011

2011

2013

2013

2013

2015

i’m not a sentimental person

i’m the kind of mom who thinks kindergarten graduations are stupid silly.  i mean, i didn’t see my children’s completion of their first year of school as a reason to go all cap and gown crazy.  i sort of expected them to make it into first grade.  i know there is alot accomplished during kindergarten, but really, a graduation?  this could also be because only one actually went to kindergarten.  the other two spent several years being tortured taught by me.  perhaps they deserved a celebration of sorts when they gained their freedom reported to a regular classroom.

so when the kids’ school had a meeting for the 6th grade families about the upcoming bridging ceremony (bridging ceremony:  a ceremony to mark the end of the elementary school years and the moving on to secondary school) i might have rolled my eyes and i’m certain i thought, “really?  that’s stupid silly.”  because i don’t see the completion of 6th grade as that big of a deal nor the moving on to secondary school – which, i think it is important to note, is on the very same campus as the elementary school and not only that it’s in the very same building.  but because i’m an involved parent – which is really not true, i’ve only just recently gotten involved and i have a whole other post all about that (it’s a bit of a downer) – i volunteered to head up the food bit of this shin dig and to try to find someone to take on the decorations – since noone else seemed to be willing.

i think it’s a little funny that the person in charge of getting the ball rolling on the parent end of this thing doesn’t see the point of doing it.

so today was the day. the program was kicked off by the whole audience standing for the king’s song.  which – i believe – is how it goes at all public gatherings.

then the students performed a virtue rap they had written themselves.

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there were performances by a few students – including a12 on the harp.  no picture, batteries were very low.  speeches were given by the top student from each 6th grade class, they were very funny and charming.  much more confident than i remember being at 12.

the final thing was the actual crossing of the bridge.  the leaving behind of elementary school

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she seems pretty determined about getting across that bridge

into the jasmine lei bearing arms of secondary school.

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then all the other elementary kids were kicked out – unless they were a sibling of a 6th grader – and the party began. many parents volunteered to bring in finger foods from their country.  we had swedish meatballs (switzerland), suishi (japan), chicken tandoori masala & nan bread (india), chicken satay (thailand), custard (europe – don’t remember the nation), brownies (america), chips & queso (texas – which is totally a nation), sticky rice (thailand), tempura veggies & spicy dipping sauce (burma), some crusty bread topped with veggies and ham (germany), some pickled veggies – not kimchi (korea), sliced roast beef (america) and there was more, but that’s all i remember.  there was also a very lovely cupcake set up.

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this amazing 100 cupcake cupcake creation was made even more amazing by the price.  baht 700 – which when converted into u.s. dollars came to $20.35.

and as silly as i think the notion is – i will admit it was a lovely ceremony.  and the purpose was better explained to me by the person who thunk the whole thing up.  (whom i happened to be sitting by and it’s very possible i mentioned that i thought it was an unnecessary (and i might have even said stupid) thing to do – but, of course, that was before i know it was her brain child.)  she told me the purpose wasn’t really a graduation but more to allow closure and to make for a better transition for the students into secondary school.  it seems that tck (third culture kids) have difficulty with transition so anything that can be done to assist them is a good thing.  i’m not sure what i think about that.  i guess i’ll see as my kids become third culture kids.

oh, and i just have to share with you what i think is the most fascinating tidbit from the tck wiki link – dr. ruth hill useem, the sociologist who coined the term third culture kids, named her three children flopsi, penny and dipsi.  it’s possible the whole third culture kid thing wasn’t her children’s biggest issue.  or maybe i shouldn’t believe everything wiki has to say (you can find her obit at that link.  and it seems her kids aren’t the namesakes of the teletubbies.)