Triple Threat

Last week was a big week for Sam.  It began with the school awards assembly where he was recognized as Best Male Performer for the Spring semester.


Mr. Turner and Sam

It ended with the school’s “Monologue and Songs Competition”…


where he danced, and he monologued, and he sang.  He was so good!

We knew about the dancing, it was a group thing, everyone had to do it.  Sam’s on the right side of the screen front row.


We also knew about the monologue.  He wrote his own monologue this year and I’d heard him rehearsing it through his bedroom door, but this was the first time I saw it performed.


We did not know about the singing.  And when I say we didn’t know about the singing I mean we didn’t know Sam sang.  We knew he was able to sing, but we didn’t know he sang in public.  We also didn’t know he wrote lyrics.  So we were as surprised as everyone else when he got up on stage to sing an original song.  His friend who accompanied him on guitar wrote the music.


Seeing how this was a competition there were trophies.  Sam came home with second place for his monologue.


Mr. Turner and Sam



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.





the beginning of the end of an era

today is the first day aly’s last year of high school.  and – if no one in my family changes their mind – it’s also the first day of our family’s last year of traditional school.  i’m finding dealing with both has me feeling all kerfuffle-y.  it hasn’t been all that long since chan went through his last year of high school and i still remember how raw it was.  how all year long the coming change felt so close to the surface.  i’m trying to not protect myself from those feelings this year.  i want to fully experience this whole year with aly (appropriately, of course, i have no plans to go to prom).  i don’t want to fall into a been there done that attitude, either.  this is her experience and while it will have its similarities to chan’s it won’t be the same at all.


at the end of the last first day of high school.

she and michael were in the states this summer and she toured college campuses.  she even found one she wants to apply to.  she also wants to apply to a college in japan.  so much change to come.  so little time to savor and no way to stop the clock.  i wouldn’t really want to.  she’s gonna have an awesome year.

along with her last year of school is our family’s decision to not send sam back to school this year.  over the past few years it has become more and more apparent that traditional school is not the best for sam.  we’re taking the road less traveled (so to speak).  he’ll come out of it with a high school certification and he won’t be shutting any doors he might want to walk through in the future, but for his well being – and the well being of our family – this is the best path we can find.  we are very thankful that the school will allow him to audit drama this year and that they have left the door open should he decide the classroom really is where he wants to be.  it’s scary for me.  i’m a rule follower and this isn’t how high school is supposed to be done.  (this is a little funny because we homeschooled our oldest two for several years, and that’s not how elementary school is supposed to be done.  even better?  it was my choice to do it.)  i also think it’s good that we live abroad as we are making this decision.  not that there aren’t plenty of people who support homeschooling in the states (i think that’s what you would consider what we are doing).  at this age it feels like it’s more sam schooling with a some parental oversight.  many of the non-american westerners around us have been very encouraging of our decision.  they’ve told us it’s not uncommon in their countries for how a kid is educated to change at this age.  it seems only us americans have a one size fits all attitude when it comes to education.

so big changes ahead for us and i’m just holding on to the knowledge that we’ll come out okay on the other side of all this.

yoyogi park

tokyo – day one.  (i’ve done the planning for this vacation with the help of the many people who have taken the time to rate must see attractions in tokyo.)  today we started with yoyogi park.  getting a late start (it was after 12:00 by the time everyone got up and dressed) wasn’t the best for being able to fully enjoy the goings on at yoyogi park, but we still had a great time.

we started our trip out hungry so first order of business was finding lunch.  which meant a walk out of our neighborhood for a little exploring.  right off the bat we came across a picture of tommy lee jones hawking canned coffee.  who knew?

then we found a mirror.


we walked down ninja alley – that’s not an official name, but since we know we are staying in the ninja district michael’s certain this is where they did their ninja stuff.  just like michael.

a restaurant.  where we had to point and pray that the pictures were a good representation for what we ordered.

not one complaint – everyone left happy and full.  right now we’re all in agreement that japanese food rocks.


dr. pepper in japan – what the what??


we tackled the train system next.  i didn’t get any pictures of our struggles doing this.  it wasn’t overly difficult, but the language barrier was noticeable and it took a lot of focus to make sure we got headed the right direction.  but once we got where we were headed we came out of the station to see takeshita street and lots of people – including these gals who seemed to be just hanging out.

and then we got lost.  so we did lots of walking.  and this drove by us – i had no idea what they were but the guys got very excited.  from what i could gather from what the boys were saying is that they’re like life size rock ’em sock ’em robots.  i can see that they could be pretty cool.


chan decided to see if he could help.  he took the map and had a seat – a wet seat.  he was a big help – laughter always lightens the mood.

eventually we found yoyogi park.  where we were greeted by some very friendly folks.  we grabbed a few free hugs and high fives, but they were so fast we didn’t get any pictures.


finally we headed into the park.

it was beautiful.  and cool.  but not too cold.  just right.  there were fish to look at and turtles to watch.

and some not so fancy potties with worrisome signs.

barrels of sake wrapped in straw.  you can read about it if you want.

casks of wine for consecration.

and incredibly we came across the travelocity gnome.

it’s a little known fact that gnomes take all the get-up-and-go out of you.

eventually we did get up and go again.  and – amazingly – we found another mirror.

we finished at the park and headed out for the two other things on my list that we had to do while we were in this part of tokyo.  one was find the hachikō statue.

go us!  and the other was see shibuya crossing.  conveniently, that’s where the hachikō statue is located.

we were all exhausted and hungry so we ate at mcdonald’s.  that was chan’s choice.  he says you’re supposed to try mcdonald’s everywhere you go.  it’s some kind of travel law – or something.  i don’t know what i ordered, but it was pretty good.  everyone else ordered what they would have at any other mcdonald’s and they said it was better than they’d had before.  the only thing i’m certain of is that this extablishment had the best  fancy japan potty i’ve ever experienced at a mcdonald’s.

the button that looks like it plays music doesn’t really.  it plays toilet flushing sounds.  my guess is for discretion.

better with age

last year there was a post on the oprah blog that listed 24 things that get better with age.  24 seems an odd number.  25 would be better.  i’ve got an excellent idea as to what number 25 should be, but first the 24 from her list:

  • Ford Mustangs
  • A wheel of gouda
  • Sea Glass
  • A cast-iron skillet
  • Amish friendship bread
  • Cowboy boots
  • Scrapbooks
  • Single-malt scotch
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Ivy-covered walls
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Blue jeans
  • A rib-eye steak
  • Stereo headphones
  • Your sense of self
  • Love letters
  • Hardwood floors
  • Peonies
  • Sexual satisfaction
  • Chinese century eggs
  • A baseball mitt
  • Diamonds in the rough
  • Your vocabulary
  • George Clooney (this one seems somewhat subjective)

and here’s my suggestion for number 25 –


this could also serve as a reminder that 10 years is too long to wait to have pictures taken.

and now the catch up begins

no worries, i’m not gonna try to catch you guys up too much, but you might ought to prepare yourself for the next few posts to be about the mostly recent past – starting as recent as this past weekend…

michael was invited to train a course in muak lek, thailand.  the folks who invited him were kind enough to invite the rest of the family along, too.  c19 had other, more pressing, senior-y type things to do, but a16, s13, and i were game for a weekend at a resort and 24/7 air con.  the other thing we were all looking forward to was picking up krispy kreme donuts while we were at the don muang airport in bangkok – i’ll get back to that.

we flew into DMK – that’s don muang airport.  and were picked up and given a ride to muak lek – a few hours outside of bangkok.  we arrived after the dining room was closed.  but not to be starved we headed out to find some dinner and lucked into a little mookata restaurant – a thai bbq place where you’re in charge of your own grill.

after dinner we checked into our rooms (wish i’d taken a picture, we had a very nice 2 bedroom/2 bathroom with a living room cabin).  we quickly (there might have been a little drama) divided up boys’ room and girls’ room.  turns out brothers and sisters – when they are a 16 year old girl and 14 year old boy – aren’t so keen on room sharing.

michael had to be up bright and early to start teaching, but the rest of us slept in, then breakfast and an entire day of nothing.  i had a little work to do and some reading i wanted to catch up and some air-con i just wanted to soak up.  so it was sort of a day of nothing.

on sunday we got up, headed to worship and then the kids and i ventured out to chet saonoi waterfall.  it was nice and cool and very pretty.

Imagewe hiked around for a bit and then headed out to what see what google said muak lek was famous for – the milky way.  there are a lot of dairies.  big ones.  and farm chokchai is all set up for tourists.

2013-05-05 11.07.30the kids fed calves.  they had ice cream shakes.  really, really good ice cream shakes.  we felt a little guilty about eating burgers.  and we skipped the tour.  i was the only one really interested in it – it was 2.5 hours long and all in thai.  if we’d made prior arrangements english could have been arranged, but since my dairy thai isn’t all that good i figured the kids were right on this one.


no matter how hard those helpful thai ladies pushed those cows wouldn’t move

and besides, i was coming down with a migraine.  and if you’re gonna have a migraine and take to the bed, it’s very, very nice to be able to do that in an air-conned room.

michael had to train a good bit of monday and then it was time to return to the airport.  michael was a little slow getting through security – he’d forgotten about the 8 pairs of scissors he had in his backpack.  but they were discovered and confiscated and then we were on our way.  we quickly located krispy kreme.  it was open.  and it was donut-less.  not one donut.  there was a little disappointment, but not too much.  everyone knows we’re only weeks away from the land of donuts.

we got home a little late on sunday night and kids returned to school on monday.

there was a little bit of melancholy on the trip as every so often someone found it necessary to comment on this trip for four being what next year would be like all the time.  (it’s possible i’ll work c19’s imminent departure into any posts between now and the day it happens.)

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.


ticket counter in chiang mai




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.