trying to be legit

for christmas this year we got the family a desk top computer.  one that could sit in the living room where everyone could have access and we could also keep an eye on the internet surfing.  we purchased this computer at a legitimate electronics store.  they set it up, loaded a windows operating system and microsoft office software for us, so when we got home and plugged it in it was good to go.

a few weeks ago we start getting a message that microsoft wanted to verify the validity of our windows operating system and – since we live in thailand – i figured we probably should not allow microsoft to do this.  and i thought i’d warned all the kids about this.  turns out i hadn’t.  and one of them thought that verifying the software would be a very good idea, seeing as how we did buy the computer from a real live electronics store, which to them meant that everything that came with would be on the up and up.  now we’re stuck with this message on our computer screen and we can’t make it go away.


and a few times a day we get an urgent pop up message from microsoft telling us that if we will just click this button right here they can tell us how to fix our little problem.  i’ve threatened to remove the fingers of anyone who decides it might be a good idea to allow microsoft to tell us how to fix our problem.  because i’m thinking their solution is going to be something like wiping our computer clean of all software and operating systems and maybe suggesting to us that we buy some genuine windows software.  which could be a problem since i’m pretty certain you can’t buy the real thing here.

all present & accounted for

except Michael. he’s accounted for, but not present – he’s in Manila.

we picked up my dad this morning. his flight was delayed. so we did what we always do when we have to wait for a delayed flight.


yep, those are waffles.  eating waffles is what we always do.  at least the kids always do.  C14’s waffle hasn’t made it off of the waffle cooker, yet.  but he got one, too.

once the plane landed we all started scouting the crowd for my dad.  and we spotted him.


and just as quickly we lost him.


but wait, we didn’t lose him…  it seems he was trying to lose us.


and he tried hard…


apparently he thought that by removing his shoes and socks before he came out of baggage claim he could either completely fool us or cause us to deny we knew him and then he would be able to make a clean get away.

(I would have had a much better picture to insert there, but the family member (name withheld) who appointed himself picture taker was busy taking 800 pictures of this.


i’m certain he’ll be glad he took them.)

once we’d all regrouped we headed home.


once home, we put the kids off as long as possible with the Christmas present opening.  and after it seemed it had been a decent time we opened presents

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and all was good with the world.

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.

the obligatory look at my loot post

which isn’t really obligatory at all.  but I think it looks better if it appears I’m being forced to show off my presents…

Michael is one of the best gift givers I know.  but somewhere along the way I’ve lost my gift receiving enthusiasm.  not that I don’t love to get gifts, because I do.  it just seems I’m incapable of an appropriate gift receiver reaction.  I can’t muster a sincere “ooh” or “aah” to save my life.  I haven’t always been like that, maybe only in the last 10 years or so, and I’m not exactly sure what caused the change….

anyway, this year I got a stove.  which was a Christmas requirement.  not a request.  I had to have a stove.  without it my head would start spinning or maybe i would curl up in a fetal position and rock.  it wasn’t a surprise.  I went to the store myself and picked it out.  but I was somewhat surprised that it was delivered 1/2 an hour later!


underneath the hood it has three burners.  and conveniently, the propane fits right beside it…

Michael’s impulse gift to me – these are usually something I haven’t asked for, may never have mentioned wanting or just casually mentioned, and are almost always something I love – was a Mahjong set.  from China.  you can’t get much more authentic than that.


I am slightly intimidated by it.  I’ve played plenty of solitaire Mahjong on the computer, but I’m not sure how well that will translate to real play.

from A12 I received a candy dispenser.  I think in her 12 short years of life she has noticed that some days just go better for us all when mom has a little chocolate.


and S9 gifted me with a very cute change purse.  which will come in most handy for all the baht coins I’m always digging around for at the bottom of my purse.


there were a few family gifts.  a desk top computer.  which sat right beside the tree for probably an hour and 1/2 before S9 noticed it and asked, “hey, who’s the computer for?”


and, lastly, another family gift.


table tennis, anyone?

it’s a start


decorated the tree.  found the camera.  proof that A1112 had no reason to be concerned about not being able to put ornaments on the tree.  the real worry is that we can’t put very many ornaments on the tree.  luckily,  this just happens to be all the ornaments we have.  and all of them, except the elephant, were made by ladies from the Northern Tribes here in Thailand.


our stockings were also made by tribal ladies.  well, not the names.  I did the names.


I still have the nativity left to put out.  but I have no table to display it on.  I’m trying to fix that problem.

our decorations will be staying up until after my parents get here.  figure that gives us plenty of time to enjoy them.

and, yes, I do know I’ve now shown my children’s names.  oh, well.

pressure – it’s on

lately I’ve had this question sort of niggling in my brain and last night, one of my lovely children, actually asked it out loud.  “what are you going to cook for Christmas?” and then he went on to present an entire thesis on Christmas food and how important it is.  not just important necessary.  because without it Christmas will just suck.

I’ve managed to procure a tree, decorate it, place wrapped presents under it, hang stockings and locate the stocking stuffers.  I’ve spent absolutely no time thinking about what we will be eating come Christmas day.  and now that I know appetizers are expected?  the pressure is on.