normal, that’s us

it’s official. the counselor’s declared us and all that we are going through as normal. i know, i’m just as surprised by that as you. actually, i’m not, i knew it. everyone keeps telling us that this is all normal, everybody who moves across the world goes through it. but yesterday, finally, someone said to me – that while this is normal – it still sucks. and that’s really what i needed to hear. deep down i have no doubt that we will make it through this transition. but every once in a while i do have those niggling little thoughts that scream, “what in the world were you thinking!?! you are a crazy woman and nothing is ever going to be alright again!!” niggling little thoughts can be quite loud. but yesterday we decided to embrace the normal. we went to eat lunch at normal ol’ kentucky fried chicken, then we went plant shopping where the boys did what boys are normally wont to do and complained that they had to be there. but we did get home with these

and once we were home a11 pointed out in her very normal way that if i was intending to pot these plants we had no pots and if i was intending to plant them in the ground we had nothing to dig with. (but i really have a much more sinister plan. since my mom is coming in may and she has an excellent shade of kelly green thumb and i have a not at all green thumb i’m hoping she won’t be too put out if she gets to take the lead on help with some landscaping. and that looking at the tropical plants that are so easy to come by here will get her very excited about the prospect of traveling half way around the world to garden. mom, don’t worry we will do so much more. gardening is just an if we get time kind of a thing. oh, and i will get those plants potted before you get here, i’ve purchased a green permanent marker to color my thumb with so the plants will feel more confident in me.) where was i, oh yeah, normal. (don’t all normal people have sinister gardening plans?) anyway, once home we went swimming at the very normal swimming pool in our neighborhood. and then i worked very hard at convincing the kids that cereal would be great for dinner since it was 900 degrees outside and that was way to hot to be cooking over a hot flame.  i finally convinced them when i told them, “all the normal kids are doin’ it.”

haiku friday – culture shock

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

are we adjusting
is ev-e-ry-thing normal
today we find out

no joke culture shock
thailand’s not america
that’s not suprising

kids are still having
occasional crying jags
don’t know how to help

think that it’s best to
look to the professionals
help us get through this

~~~~~~~~~~

today we, the kids and i that is, head off for a head check. the kids are going to meet with someone while i’m meeting with someone else. and then i get to meet with both of these someones to see what’s next.

so far c14 really seems to be doing great. my only concern about him is that he seems to have developed some sort of funky accent. i have a tendency to mimic the accents around me, not intentionally, sometimes i don’t even realize i’m doing it and i think he might do the same. it seems that c14 apparently is turning japanese, i think he’s turning japanese, i really think so… okay, well, maybe not japanese, but you get the idea. however, i am worried that maybe there is something hovering just under the surface, waiting to break or crack or whatever it’s gonna do.

a11 is doing okay at this moment. but that might not be true for the exact moment we walk into the counselor’s office or even the exact next moment from this exact moment. things change quickly with her.

s8 hated thailand before he got here and this hasn’t really improved at all. he has good moments, but when he’s having a bad moment – it’s bad. it’s heartbreaking.

hopefully today we will get a bit of help. really, i think for the kids someone other than their parents saying this is normal will be very helpful, but also some tools to help process all of this.

bh isn’t left out of all this because we think he’s doing all that great, he’s left out of this fun because he isn’t here to participate. he gets back saturday from a two week jaunt to india and singapore. and this time his being gone has been so much better than mongolia. no freak-outs on my part. it has helped that i have had some contact from him, but i think the biggest difference has been that i have been so very busy informing the whole of thailand that i farted.

haiku friday – speakin’ it

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

a good week i’ve had
something to do ev’ryday
occupied is good

not a thai master
but simple conversation
am able to hold

ask for directions
order at a restaurant
give some opinion

need to be braver
and try to talk to locals
i want to improve

~~~~~~~~~~

i am enjoying my thai class very much. but still have a great deal of difficulty using what i’m learning. i know i need to and that i won’t ever be fluent if i don’t, but i have this thing about not wanting to look like a fool. i am taking baby steps – i order in thai at the food stalls and am understood pretty well, i sometimes have to repeat myself 2 or 3 times but i get there, and only once have i ended up eating something that i know i didn’t order – but it was good. of course, i have no idea what it was so i couldn’t order it again.

and, this just in, i’ve gotten word that company might be coming my way. to see me. here. in thailand.

visa run

our current visas require that we leave thailand every 90 days. and before you start thinking, “oh, my goodness. i can’t believe they’ve been there 90 days already” just know – we haven’t. we still have a few weeks, but today is the only day we could all clear our schedules to go. so, bright and early this morning we set out to cross the border into burma (it’s officially the union of myanmar). we hired a minibus and driver to get us there and it took us about 4 hours. that’s with bathroom breaks and some pretty rough road – mostly issues with construction, resurfacing and the like. our first bathroom break was at a resort and restaurant that was created to provide financial support for the population and community development association.

img_1998.jpg

this establishment has set some pretty high standards for their food prep – and i now have all new worries about dining out.

img_2002.jpg

our driver dropped us off in mae sai, thailand – maybe 50 yards 45.72 meters from the border.

img_2003.jpg

while having our passports checked i happened to look up and notice the clocks. the time in burma/myanmar is 1/2 an hour behind the time in thailand. i wish i’d taken a picture of it, but i didn’t. i was too preoccupied with the dangers of border crossing. and i was all preoccupied over nothing. it reminded me of another border crossing experience i’d had.

when i was 15, the orchestra at my high school made a trip to the 1986 (don’t stop reading to tax your brain trying to figure out my age, i’ll do the math for you. i’m 37) world expo in vancouver, canada. we flew from dallas, texas to seattle, washington – which in and of itself was huge for me. (i’d only flown one other time and that was from dallas to houston on a southwest airlines peanut plane.) in seattle we boarded a bus and headed for the border. the entire drive i was nervous, like sweating buckets nervous. we got to the border and were stopped by guards. who boarded our bus – just like i knew they would. and then they got off the bus and waved us through. and that was it. i was so let down. i’d expected so much more. i’d expected guns waving and people yelling at us in a foreign language (you know, canadian english.) i’d expected our luggage to get tossed. i’d been holding my birth certificate tightly in my clenched fist – so i could produce it as soon as the nozzle of some high powered automatic rifle was waved in my face. but none of that happened. the weren’t at all interested in a high school orchestra from dallas, texas. but we did stay on a cruise ship. you know, just in case those canadians decided we were dangerous and we needed to make a quick get away. (yes, i did believe that story then and now you’re not gonna convince me other wise.)

anyway, back to this border crossing. after our passports were checked we crossed into myanmar/burma.

img_2005.jpg

where they took pictures of us, we paid them and they kept our passports for processing. and we proceeded on to tachilek, burma/mayanmar to do a little shopping. then we returned and picked up our passports and reentered thailand.

img_2008.jpg

on our way home, we noticed several fires. in an effort to improve air quality it is now illegal to burn in thailand, but it is part of their culture and old habits die hard.

fires.jpg

i could have taken this exact picture a dozen times on our way home. the smoke was heavy and the stink was strong. we can see the smoke from our house and the haze in our area is awful. and at times the smell is almost unbearable. i hear it gets better once the rainy season comes and that this year is nothing compared to last. which makes me thankful i didn’t experience it.

update – house in the u.s.

so, i’ve been pretty quiet about this house sale thing. hate to jinx anything, ya know?

a week or so ago we received the inspection report for the sale of our home in colorado and it had me way down. they seemed to want it all – i mean they seemed to want us to tear the place down and rebuild it. but after a day or so of looking over and over their list of requests it became much less daunting. the list became doable, but possibly expensive. and today, we’ve heard a rumor. from a most trusted source – who i’m interrupting this brief post to say happy birthday to, his birthday was yesterday. they have come up with a money amount that we find most acceptable. and it is reasonable and we are all over it. we are now one day short of a month from closing.

monday, is it over yet?

today started bright and early with parent/teacher conferences for s8 and a11. which means the kids were out of school, but bh and i had to go. so off we went.

we met with s8’s teacher first. he’s doing okay academically, but is a poor citizen. he’s rude to her and his classmates. he seems angry and he’s still having difficulty adjusting. and, as his mom, i so wanted to make excuses for him. but i couldn’t. i’m pretty sure they would have fallen flat. because the truth is he’s just not all that happy. i mean he has days that are great, but far more of them are not so great. and i’m not really sure it’s improving for him. so i sat with his teacher – and in all fairness to her she was wonderful, she fully understands how difficult this is and how he’s never been the new kid before – and i listened and tried not to cry. sat there and wondered what have we done? how have we damaged our son?

next up was a11’s teacher. an equally wonderful teacher. very understanding about our move and adjustment and all that goes with it, but… a11 isn’t doing well either. she’s withdrawn and really somewhat cold to her fellow students. the other girls in her class have given up on trying to be friends with her and now a11 has an uphill battle trying to make friends with them. and she’s become very unsure of herself. in the last year she has made some great strides in her self confidence levels, really come out of her shell. and now she seems to have completely regressed. so for the second time in an hour i’m absolutely certain we have damaged our kids.

also on the agenda today was a birthday party for c13, harp lesson for a11 and a school project work session for a11. i got c13 to the birthday party on time and got lost on my way home. which made us late for harp lessons. which made us late for the school project work session. we ended up getting home in time for me to make dinner and then head off to get c13 from his birthday party. and, of course, i got lost on my way to get him. and so you don’t think i’m a total loser – the pick up place wasn’t the same as the drop off place. it took me an hour and a half to find where i was supposed to be. turns out it’s only about 10 minutes from our house. so i was very late getting him. when i do get him he mentions that he left the change of clothes he was supposed to take to the party in the song thaeuw they had ridden in to get from the first location to the second. which might not be such a big deal if it hadn’t been one of the four pair jeans he owns. and since he will only wear jeans at this time – his thing, not ours – that leaves him 3 pairs and one of those three has a nice rip in the upper inner thigh (also known as the crotch). and then he says to the birthday girl, “the gift i got you got all wet, so i’ll have to get you another.” (they’d had a water balloon fight, thus the need for a change of clothes.) it was a gift voucher to swenson’s. not like we could take it back. so i gave it to her mother so she could lay it out flat and then they would be usable.

and now i’m home. working on a to-do list for tomorrow. it only has two things on it. one is go to cooking class, which i’m very much looking forward to. the other is call the counseling center and make appointments for our whole maladjusted family… we need help and it’s available so we’re gonna get it. i have no doubt that they are going to tell me that what we’re going through is normal, that it will all be okay and i’m hoping that they will give us all some tools to help us get through this and thrive here, i’m sure that they will.