added value

we are a movie going family.  we were before we moved and that hasn’t changed.  i think part of what makes it enjoyable to go to the movies here is that it’s something familiar.  a movie theatre is a movie theatre – sort of.  in america we don’t stand up to honor the president right before the movie begins, but here we do do that for the king.  and in america there aren’t thai subtitles across the bottom of the screen, but we don’t even see those anymore.  and in america the commercials that come on before the previews are in english – as are all of the previews.  but other than that, it’s pretty much the same.  you can get popcorn and a coke.  well, that’s a bit different, too, because you don’t spend $15 dollars on popcorn and cokes for two people here – it’s much cheaper here, maybe around $4 or $5.  and when you get your drink in america you can’t get a fancy topper like you can here.  and the kids are big fans of the fancy topper.  they usually go along with whatever animated movie is currently out or getting ready to come out.  like right now the fancy topper is from the soon to be released movie up.  and it’s a pretty cool topper.  and it also made drinking through a straw somewhat hazardous.

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in the past year we’ve managed to acquire the a pretty impressive topper collection.

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and not all of them are included in this picture, because we can’t find them all.

and i’m not really so certain this is something to be proud of.

another t-shirt in the making

monday evening i went to a “what happens to the kids when a parent is coming and going” seminar.  i came away with all kinds of things to think about.  like how we handle michael’s comings and goings.  which i think, for the most part, we don’t so much handle them.  we just sort of absorb them.  there’s no time between the return and the leaving to have a proper hello or a proper goodbye – whatever that might look like – they’re so constant that if we took any time to try to deal with his return he’d be out the door again before we were done.  but one of the handouts/tools/charts the speaker/counselor gave us was the transition bridge.  i’d never seen it before, but many had, it’s apparently not an uncommon tool used in cross cultural training.  and it’s got me thinking.  not so much about what’s happening with the kids when michael’s coming and going and coming and going and coming and going and coming and going and coming and going… you get the picture.

it’s had me thinking more about our move here. and what we did not do to prepare for it.  and all that.  i actually spend a fair amount of time thinking about this.  especially with our trip home coming up… i’m wondering what might rear it’s ugly head because we didn’t do the whole move thing right.  so you can see what i’m talking about, here’s the bridge.

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and for the purpose of comparison here’s what i think the bridge might look like with the steps we actually did well.

transitionbad

and i’m not sure exactly where that leaves me. have i been shot into the cloud of chaos? am i doggy paddling in the river of transition? i’m certain i’m no longer safely on the shores of belonging.  but have i even touched the banks of entering, coping and belonging?  (i do think i have, but i’m an all or nothing girl. so i have difficulties recognizing this.)

one thing i do know is that i feel very tightly wound.  one good jostle and i’ll come undone and it might not be too pretty.

I think I’ll be ready

our home leave is coming up.  only 5 months away. and while 5 months isn’t quite the same as tomorrow it will still be here before we know it.  and – until today – every time I’ve thought about returning to the states I’ve had a near panic attack.  the memory of our trip here hasn’t become funny, yet.  I sort of thought it would have by now, but nope, still quite scarring.  and because of that I’ve really had no desire to board a plane to fly for hours and hours and hours.  and I was sort of thinking I might never, ever fly across the ocean again.  but this afternoon, while talking to a friend about our impending trip, I realized I’m excited about it.  and it’s not just seeing friends and family that I’m looking forward to.  I’ve started a little list, that I will continue to add to, of things I miss.

here’s the list…  (people not included)

  • knowing, without a doubt, that public restrooms are not squatty potties
  • being fairly confident that there will be toilet paper available in at least one stall in a public restroom
  • being able to flush toilet paper
  • channel surfing
  • drinking tap water
  • hot water in the kitchen
  • Panera
  • bagels
  • tacos from Jack in the Box (what?)
  • diet cherry limeades from Sonic
  • drive thru windows
  • Chipotle
  • Target

maybe I’ll move this to my sidebar.  wonder how long it can get.

a little exposure

today my parents and I took a walk down to Thapae gate.  We stopped and ate lunch and looked in some of the shops.  eventually, my mom and I caught a tuk tuk to the kids’ school so we could walk them home from school.  we left my dad at Thapae gate.  he had plans to get a hair cut and then would make his way back on his own.  as we were walking home from school, our mâe bâan’s husband stopped to offer us a ride.  and we took it.  and that’s how 7 of us ended up riding home on a mordtersai (motorcycle).  it did have a side cart.  and we have no picture.  my favorite part?  after we were all situated and on the way home my mom says, “Monica, do you know this guy?”

and my dad made it home. with a haircut.  not a bad outing.

it’s been a year!

a year ago today I wrote the following two posts.  I don’t think I had any idea how well we would do here.  how good this move would be for us.  I think the biggest surprise for me this year has been the kids.  I had no idea how much this would require of them and how brave they could be!  they are amazing.

a very quick update…

we are in bangkok. at least the kids and i are. bh has just left for singapore. the rest of us are waiting to get to chiang mai, because of our delay we have to fly standby. we will know in the next few moments whether or not we will make this flight. if not, there are others today. right now we’re cranky, tired, smelly and really just ready to be done. one day this will be the funniest of stories.

we’re here

we made it.  we’re tired.  and when the day comes that we can tell this story as the funniest story ever i’ll be sure to include the part where half the luggage doesn’t get here.  because what could be funnier than two stinky boys with no clean clothes.

our first Christmas abroad

we’d been warned that it would be awful – the worst ever – because that’s the way all first Christmases abroad are.  I don’t really believe they are all that way, but I was prepared for ours to be.  and set my expectations thusly.

I expected misery, complaining, tears, gnashing of teeth, etc…

what we ended up with was one of the best Christmases I can remember.  I think low expectations were definitely beneficial.  we had a very low key day.  Christmas Eve we attended the 11pm candlelight service.  I don’t know that that would have been on the itinerary had A12 not been playing harp for part of it.  by the time we got home it was late.  like 12:30am.  we did our best to get the kids off to bed quickly with the instruction that we were not to be woken up before 6:30am.

and we weren’t woken before then.  down we went to open presents.  not alot under the tree.  the big gifts weren’t wrapped.  after presents – which we somehow managed to drag out until 10am – we ate breakfast.  a bagel, bacon and egg breakfast casserole.  then spent the day playing spades.  puttering around on the computer – trying to figure out how to get it all set up, playing ping pong table tennis laying around in our pjs, and catching some shut eye every chance we could.

eventually we had to start thinking about Christmas dinner.  we had rotisserie chicken, corn, mashed potatoes and whole berry cranberries.  the chicken and the corn both came fully cooked and still piping hot from the market.  the mashed potatoes I slaved over for like 20 minutes of actually having to be in the kitchen.  I even managed to make some cream gravy using the left over bacon fat from breakfast.  and the cranberries were sent from an awesomely awesome friend in Colorado.

and when the day was done there was no disappointment.  I didn’t hear one complaint about what we were missing or what it was like when we lived in the states. everyone seemed very content.

besides, it would be totally nearly impossible to top A12’s first Christmas as the worst ever.