A family of 5, Super Mom, USMC Dad, & three boys ages 5, 7, & 9. This is glimpse into the daily life of raising 3 American boys while living in Bangkok, Thailand.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why International School Bangkok (ISB) is an Awesome School

Look at me go, two posts in one day...  Well all the kids are in bed and the husband went to sleep early too.  I still have some residual coffee caffeine floating in my veins so here I am.  On Monday, the 18th of November, 2013 I was able to chaperon a field trip of 8 kindergartners. They are beginning a unit in science on wood, or something like that, so they decided to take a field trip to a local lumber yard.  At 9 am, 8 kids, 4 parents and 1 teacher got in a 15 passenger van and headed out of Nichada to Samakee Road.  Samakee Road is where we go to get gas for the golf cart, go to the bicycle shop, and get photos custom framed.   I am sure there is plenty of other stuff on Samakee Road but I have yet to look or to follow it to the other end.  Once we got to the Lumber Yard there were two Thai's that worked there ready to meet us.  They walked us around and explained the difference between hard and soft wood, showed us bamboo, wood from papaya trees, eucalyptus wood, teak (and an actual teak tree), particle board, and several other types of wood.
       In addition to showing us the different types of wood, they also showed the kids different methods of cutting (chainsaw, handsaw, and a bamboo splitter).  They demonstrated what happens to young leaves from a teak tree when you squish them, they turn red, and are used to make a dye, and also explained that the cutting of teak tree's is now government regulated. We were at the lumber yard for about an hour.  Right before we got back on the bus each kid was given a digital camera to use to take photos around the yard.  Then, one of the hosts (I believe his name was Kuhn M) gave each kid two pieces of bamboo.  One is to be used as a piggy bank, the other can be used for a pencil holder.   Then, we got back on the bus and headed back to ISB.
    So, why do I think ISB is an Awesome school?  Because they take the possibilities and turn them into reality.  Maybe it's a Thailand thing, maybe it's a private school thing, I'm not sure because this is the first time I have experienced either, but I just don't see a short field trip this this happening at a public school in the states.  I was also shocked by the idea of handing a 5 or 6 year old a digital camera and saying go, take pictures of whatever you want.  The kids all knew how to use them and were pretty comfortable with them so it seems like it was not their first time.  Their teacher said that in addition to the field trip, they will be making particle board later on as part of their science unit.   I have heard of other schools saying that they take a hands on approach to science and learning but ISB follows through with it.
   Apparently field trips are a pretty common thing at ISB.  Next week I am accompanying 1st graders to Ko Kret, a local island for them to get hands on with their rocks and silt unit and I believe Justice's teacher said that they will be going to the snake farm in downtown Bangkok at some point.  Other elementary school grades have done overnight trips...and it's only November.
    On November 8th, ISB had their first "Passion Day".  Basically someone said what if we asked all the kids "if they could do or learn anything what would it be?" Then all the teachers and staff got together to come up with ways to make those passions become realities for a day.  This must have been a HUGE undertaking for the school as there were many activities that the kids went to that were off campus, like wakeboarding and scuba diving.  It was a bit more controlled for the younger kids but still very elaborate.  Arcadian, my kindergartner, went to learn about Marine life.  The teacher contacted a fish store that was able to bring in aquariums with baby sharks and misc. touchable creatures.  The children were able to put on goggles and snorkels and stick their heads in the water to watch the animals.  Brosnan attended a cooking class where they made chocolate chip cookies from start to finish, and Justice went to a computer gaming class.  ISB teamed up with places all around Bangkok including local colleges where some students were able to go to learn about things like fashion design.  The kids came home happy and excited!
     Its the big things coupled with all the small touches of ISB that I know makes the kids enjoy school and makes me happy that they have this opportunity of a lifetime.


Monday, November 18, 2013

What We do in Thailand

   The weeks are very busy for all of us and although we would like to sit at home and relax, I fear that in 3 years when we return to the states and people ask what we did, I won't have anything to tell them.  Or, the last 3 months of our time in Thailand will be spent running around like crazy people exhausting ourselves trying to do all the sightseeing we should have done over the last 3 years.   So, we do try and do things when we can and we force ourselves to leave the house at 5pm on Sunday to experience a Thai festival, or we brave the heat and humidity to see what a Thai Safari park looks like, or go to a snake farm to see what the local snakes look like (eww).   So, I am going to spend some time working backwards to show you some of those things that we have done.

Loy Krathong

Justice and Arcadian and their Loy Krathongs made at school. 
        According to Wikipedia,  Loi or Loy Krathong (Loy means to float, while Krathong is the name of the thing being floated) is a Thai holiday in which people make (or buy) decorative floats to put in the rivers.  The floats are usually made out of banana tree, banana leaves, flowers, and have incense and candles placed on them.  The Krathong, "candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong's floating symbolizes letting go of all of one's hatred, anger, and defilements." 
    The date of the festival changes every year as it coincides with the evening of the full moon in the 12th month of the traditional Thai lunar calendar, generally November for us Westerners.  This year it was on the 17th of November.  There was a live band, Western and Thai food, games, and a traditional Thai costume contest.
Loy Krathongs in Nichada Lake, the boys' are in there somewhere

 In addition to the Krathongs, there were also Lanterns for sale.  Also according to Wikipedia Loy Krathong coincides with Yi Peng where Sky Lanterns are lit and sent off in the sky like hot air balloons.  While I was taking photos the boys lit the lantern until it was full of hot air and let it sail off into the sky.   Seems a big dangerous to me, especially when a few burnt about halfway up and begin falling to the ground in a flame of fire.  The news reports I get through my email confirmed the dangers of this tradition as there were several fires throughout the country that burned homes to the ground due to these beautiful lanterns.  

Despite the heat and humidity and large crowd, it was a good night.  Maybe next year we will venture out of Nichada for the festival and go to the actual river with the locals.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's November At LAST!!!

It's November At LAST!!!

Why is this important? Let's just say that in my next life I will plan out my children's birthdays a little better so that I don't have two of them in the same month, oh and so none of them are the day prior to a holiday that takes prior planning, like Halloween.  I'm not out of the clear yet, October was such a busy month that Justice's birthday party has been postponed until sometime this month. I am confident that it will be much easier to plan and prepare now that I have a car which makes my  options for food/drinks etc. much easier to obtain.  
Not only are we finished with busy birthday month, (did I mention that my mother-in-law, and sister-in-laws birthdays are also in October, they often receive their gifts a month or so late due to the craziness of October) but we are also COMPLETELY MOVED IN.  That's right, our final shipment arrived October 15th and our car on the 16th.   This past Tuesday the Embassy housing people came and picked up our "welcome kit" signifying our independence.   All the boxes are unpacked and the only thing left to do is figure out where to put some odds and ends and purchase a few items that will make our house function properly.  
The kids... the kids are all doing well.   Their last soccer game is this weekend.  The older two have decided against playing baseball and will be taking Tennis lessons.  Arcadian will play T-ball for the first time.  Justice is participating in National Novel Writing Month and as of today will begin writing a 3,000 page novel.  The past few weeks he has been working on brainstorming.   Brosnan and Arcadian are participating in Clayworks where they make different foam clay shaped things.   It is put on through the school and they seem to like it.  Brosnan continues to grow as a reader.  His teacher said he is about a year ahead of where he should be.   Arcadian, he is beginning to read as well.  I am quite surprised when I listen to him read by how much progress he is making.  He can read many Dr. Suess type books pretty easily.

As for Justice and I... He is busy with work.  It has been awhile since he has traveled but that starts again on Sunday when he takes a short trip to Laos.  Tomorrow is the Marine Corps Ball here in Bangkok so we have been preparing for that as well.    I still feel like I am busy all the time. Between the children's activities and various meetings, appointments, classes, and other things to keep the house running, it is not uncommon for me to come and go from the house 3-4 times a day with barely enough time in between to switch gears.  I often hear, Abhie, our maid say, "You're leaving again?  You just got home!"   I can't imagine life here in Thailand if I had to actually clean the house or take all 3 kids with me everywhere I went.  

Although November is a little calmer then October, there is still lots going on.  Tennis and T-ball are starting.  The two older children are in Cubscouts on two different days.  This weekend is the USMC Ball, next weekend we are going on a camping trip with the Cubscout Pack. Justice will be traveling, my Thai class continues, Thanksgiving, Justices b-day party, etc. etc.   The list goes on and on.   In between the chaos, we want to get out and do things around Thailand.  

My next post will highlight some of the things that we have done in the last month or two.  It will include a trip to Safari World and our first beach trip to Hua Hin where we rode on elephants, banana boats, and horses!   

Friday, September 20, 2013

Someday Life in Thailand will Calm down. Right???


         I know, I know... It has been awhile since I posted. Sorry. It has been an exciting and exhausting month. All three of my kids are now in school full time.  I thought this would mean extra sleep and relaxation time. I was WAY wrong at least so far.  The first week was a staggered start for the kids.  On Justices first day, Brosnan had a meet and greet in his class, the second day Brosnan started and Arcadian and a meet and great. By Thursday they were all in school from 7am - 2pm! Celebration time right? Wrong. I felt like I was in school those first 2-3 weeks. There were meetings galore, PTO, new parent orientation, medical, and of course several trips to Nurse's office with Brosnan during testing time, helping monitor lunch, and then helping with Insulin calculations and doses after lunch.  I needed to make sure that Everyone involved was comfortable, competent and knowledgeable regarding his daily care.  The nursing staff and teachers have all been wonderful and after a week I slowly started to wean myself out of he picture and hand over full control to the staff.  There have been several learning situations for all of us but we are now a month into it and everyone seems to be on the same page and getting into a routine. Enough about that.

         Soccer started the second to last week of August and Cub scouts has started as well.  Soccer is currently M, Wed, Thurs, and Saturday.  3 kids, 3 different teams. Each and everyone is miserably hot and sweaty.  I feel bad for the kids.  Heck, I feel bad for myself when I am sitting watching them play.  Sports is good for kids right?  Even if they complain about it?  Justice (the husband) says that they complain about it because they play to many video games.   He is probably right. It's okay though another month of soccer and it will be over...wait...then Baseball starts.  It is never ending.

         WE FINALLY got our UAB (unaccompanied baggage shipment).  The one that was supposed to be here within 30 days of our arrival.  It was a little late, showed up just shy of 3 months after our arrival.  The kids were in heaven for about an hour as they played with their toys, then went back to video games... I am not exactly sure what we were thinking when we packed.  My most useful items in the shipment was my desktop monitor, keyboard, and misc. desk items, and of course my Keurig Coffee maker.   Even with the odd items that we put in the 30 day shipment, it is very nice to see more of 'home' around the house.  Our 90 day shipment should be delivered within the next week or two and our car should follow shortly thereafter.


Even though we are super busy with the kids and day to day life, we have found some time to do some site seeing.  A few weeks ago we went to Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute's Snake Farm.   The snake farm had lots of snakes. Many of which I hope to never see anywhere but in the cages that we saw them.  Almost all of them are native to Thailand. The snake farm does venom extraction that is used to make anti-venom for hospitals in the community.  


Brosnan and Arcadian looking at the snake cage 
King Cobra- Can you imagine seeing this in your yard????

The snake handler's brought out various snakes to show the audience.  This snake was NOT in a cage, but on the floor in front of the crowd.  It is a big snake that looked very vicious.  I hope that this snake never crosses our path!

COFFEE In Thailand

  Thankfully the Thai's enjoy a cup of java as much as I do.  Especially, a nice iced coffee in this hot humid weather.   A friend of mine introduced me to this man. He is a mobile coffee man. For 18 baht (a mere $0.60) this guy will make a fresh cup of really bad for you coffee. Some whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, fresh brewed hot coffee, and a touch of Thai happiness, poured over ice into a cup (or small plastic bag).  It was sweet, ice cold, and delicious.   He travels around the local streets outside of Nichada.  I have seen him a few times, always in a different spot.  I am happy I was introduced to him early on in my Thailand adventure and hope to see him many times!

    I will leave you all with a beautiful sunset I caught out one of the bedroom windows.  The photo on my iPhone does not do the colors justice.  It was absolutely breath taking and I have not seen one quite this lovely since this night.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Things You Don't See Everyday...
but we do!

   After my last post, I figured it would probably be a good idea to lighten it up a bit so enjoy!

 Coconuts anyone?? 

What's inside the giant purple pod?
Bananas!  There are banana tree's all over here in Nichada.  I can see some out our windows and it makes me want to pick and eat them. 

We saw this guy headed somewhere in a hurry.  It reminded me of the movie Turbo that we recently watched.  These snails are huge, the picture does not show its size very well. 

Look closely...What do you see? I see two toads going for a piggy back ride. The kids thought this was the funniest thing ever.  They are not 'humping' as Justice originally thought...I know...where did he hear 'humping,'  that's not the point.  We saw several pairs of these on an evening walk.  It was quite hilarious to watch the poor toad on the bottom trying to jump with a fat toad on top of him. 

Science lesson of the day. Don't pick a lizard up by its tail.  If you do, the tail will detach from lizards body and continue to wiggle for several minutes like a disgusting worm.  The boys had very mixed feelings on this one.  They wanted to laugh, but they were also concerned, and disgusted. 

The Thai's were so excited about 'western' food that they took two of America's favorites and combined them into one.  The Hotdog Pizza.  I had to try it.  Pizza part good, hotdog definitely wasn't an Oscar Mayer. Glad I tried it but will leave that one for the locals.

Lastly, one more thing that you don't get to see everyday, but I do, my three beautiful boys, Arcadian, Justice, and Brosnan.   

Hope you enjoyed!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Day our Somewhat Simple Life got Complicated.

       A few months ago, I remember thinking to myself how lucky my husband and I have been to have such happy and healthy kids.  At 4, 6, and 8, we had managed to escape any major illnesses, no broken bones, no physical or mental issues with our kids.   Other than a few ear infections, common cold, strep throat, and general viruses that all kids get, our kids were healthy.    On Thursday, May 30, 2013 that all changed. My six year old son, Brosnan, was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic.

        Let's rewind a few months so that you can understand where I think this all started.  Brosnan has always been a 'sensitive' child.  He has a very sweet demeanor, his feelings get hurt easily, he is always moving a bit slower then our other two, but he is as loving as loving can be.   He is my brown eyed baby boy.  It hurts my heart writing this... knowing where it ends up. Anyways, I guess you can say he has always been a bit less energetic then my other two kids. He knows that his puppy dog eyes will get him what he wants and he uses them on a regular basis.   Brosnan, Little Justice, and I, went on a trip to Washington state to visit with my family at the beginning of March.  We drove from Yuma, Arizona to San Diego, California where  we got on the plane.  Nothing out of the ordinary, we had a great trip visiting family for the final time before our departure to Thailand.   On the drive back from San Diego to Yuma we stopped probably 3 times for bathroom breaks for Brosnan, during a 3 hour car ride  Didn't think any thing of it.  Attributed it to his drinking lots of water which is always encouraged in our household. Maybe this unrelated to his diabetes, maybe it was the beginning. 

Brosnan and his Grandpa at SeaWorld 5/4/2013
 Fast forward another month to the beginning of May.  We met my father and his girlfriend, Cindi, in San Diego for a long weekend.  We spent a day at SeaWorld, and two days in LegoLand.  We all had a great time, but it seemed like we were stopping for Brosnan to go to the bathroom constantly.  Again, I just figured it was him drinking water and us just noticing his frequent urination more since we were forced to take him to the restroom (vs. him just going whenever at home).  That was May 3-6th. 

A week later May 15th, I volunteered to chaperon his kindergarten class as they walked to the fire station and then to Round-Table Pizza for lunch.  Brosnan was crying and whining the entire time.  All he seemed to focus on was food.  He refused to take pictures with the class when they were in front of the fire truck and he refused to basically do anything that the rest of the kids were enjoying.  I just figured this was Brosnan being sensitive like usual.  One of the fire fighters ended up taking him back inside the station to go get some tissues and get him calmed down.  I was kind of ignoring the poor kid. I was frustrated with his behavior. WHY couldn't he just enjoy the things that the rest of the kids were doing?  I know he likes pizza and was excited to have some but he was so hyper-focused on when he was going to get food it was driving me crazy, and not to mention a bit embarrassing.  When he realized that we had to walk from the fire station to the pizza place it got even worse.  You would seriously think that I never feed the child, he was acting as though he was starving.  We finally arrive at the pizza place, he scarfs down his two pieces of cheese pizza and is complaining he is still hungry.   I kept telling him that I was not going to buy any more because I knew he would not eat it all.  His eyes are bigger than his stomach most of the time.  After a few more minutes of his whining, and his cute brown puppy dog eyes, I bought him a personal cheese pizza.  He scarfed it up like no tomorrow.  I began to feel bad, my goodness the kid really was hungry!   Then the walk back to school, he was the last kid, as usual, walking slowwwww, nothing new there though....  
Brosnan crying over being hungry while on field trip 5/15/2013

       It is hard to pinpoint any 'symptoms' of the following week.  I do recall him drinking more, although it is important to point out that we lived in Yuma, Arizona in the middle of the desert and by May it is at least in the 90's consistently, if not in the 100's.  My kids drink water all the time.  They have access to water 24/7.  They go to sleep with a cup of water.  Brosnan was drinking his and we kept telling him we weren't going to give him any more because we didn't want him to pee the bed.  I remember him getting upset if we told him no, then he would just try and sneak out of his bed to fill his cup on his own.   Brosnan, being our 'slow' child would normally go without water rather than have to get up and do it himself.   So with drinking more water came more bathroom visits.   Over the next couple of weeks we were noticing that he was going to the bathroom at least once or twice before my husband and I went to sleep, usually around 11pm.  Of course he is going to the bathroom, he's drinking lots of water.  I also remember him being more 'excited' about eating.  He would get snacks on his own more frequently and would eat a lot more at breakfast time.

       Sometime between the 15th and 24th (ish) of May his urination became more frequent and more concerning.   I knew that frequent urination was a symptom of diabetes, I honestly can not say how I knew that, but I almost think it was from a Lifetime Movie or something!  So I started doing research on the internet.   I was searching and searching for SOMETHING that it could be other than diabetes, but all signs pointed to only one thing.  I remember mentioning to Justice that it is a symptom of diabetes and that could be a possibility, he made a joke about it.  I told him probably not a good idea to joke about it, in case it is actually true.  I am pretty sure he told me to call the Dr. and get him checked out if I thought it was a possibility.  That had to be at least a week before he was diagnosed.  I did not call at that time to make an appointment because I kept telling myself I was wrong and I was over-reacting.  He is peeing more because it is hot outside and he is drinking more water. Period.  There is no way my son could have diabetes.

      I think the final sign that told me I had to do something was one day when he took his shirt off.  It seemed like overnight he had gone from skinny, to skin and bones.  I continued my research trying to find something that would tell me my intuition was wrong.   I came across an article that said you can buy 'Ketone' test strips over the counter at local pharmacies. Ketones are produced when your body has to much sugar in its system and it tries to flush it out in the urine.   While Justice was at cubscouts I went to CVS and bought some.  I figured this was a good way to prove myself wrong.  

    This is where I try not to feel guilt in retrospect.  That night, on Tuesday, 3 days before I took him to the doctors, I tested his urine and it indicated 'large' amounts of ketones.  I read the package and it said, "if you are diabetic and results are 'moderate' call your medical team for guidance, if results are large, seek medical help immediately."   I didn't do anything.... It told me to seek medical help immediately, and I did nothing.   He wasn't diabetic, he had been okay the last few days, he just pee's a lot.  I will call the doctors in the morning.  I put him to sleep and I remember waking up the next morning, saying to myself that I hope he is awake...  I sent Brosnan to school and called the Doctors as soon as they opened. I spoke with the nurse and told him his symptoms and what my concerns were.   I did not tell her that I tested him for ketones.  I don't even remember if I told Justice.   They had no appointments for that day so they made an appointment for first thing the next morning.
     That day was a hard day for me.  I knew he had diabetes, I knew he had it for at least a week but I knew that once I took him to the doctors that it would be official and my baby boy's life would be forever changed. I prayed and I am not a 'religious' person per say, but I asked God to please not let me be right.  Please don't allow my precious, kind loving, and gentle 6 year old boy to have an incurable disease that will alter his life.   After I made the appointment I sent a text message to my husband asking if he could go to the appointment with me, I knew that if my fears were confirmed we would be going straight to the hospital.  I knew I couldn't go to that appointment alone. I remember calling my mom and crying on the phone because I was scared of the truth and being right.

      I tucked him into bed on May 29th, keeping my fingers crossed that he would wake up the next morning.  Telling myself that he is still acting okay, he can make it one more day.  He did thankfully.  After dropping off Justice and Arcadian at school we went to the appointment.  When we met with the provider, Maureen, the nurse practitioner, I told her his symptoms and my thoughts.   She got the nurse and a blood glucose monitor, poked his finger, got the blood onto the test strip, waited a few seconds and nothing... I remember the look on the nurse that was holding the monitor as she looked at Maureen.  It was the complete opposite of everything is okay.  They scrambled around for a few minutes.  As Maureen said that she wanted him to pee in a cup, I asked what the monitor said, and she said it was to high for the monitor to read.   We took B to pee in the cup and headed back to the room.   I remember my heart pounding, knowing that the answer I did not want was just minutes away.   Justice sat quietly.  At this point I do not think that he really understood what it would mean for Brosnan to have diabetes.  Many minutes later Maureen came back in and said that I was right.

    I don't remember much specifically after that.  I remember crying and I remember being given the choice to take him to the hospital in Yuma or we could have drove 3 hours to the Phoenix children's hospital.  We choose Yuma since it would be easier to take care of our other two kids.    I semi-composed myself so that we could leave, got in the car and the waterworks started again.   By this point Brosnan was crying to because he didn't want to have to stay at the hospital and he had no idea what was wrong.

This is after we got to hospital.
Practicing his shots on 'Rufus' the diabetic teddy bear.

And that was that. Thursday, May 30th, 2013.  The day our lives were changed.  There is so much more to tell, about the hospital stay, first days home, dealing with an overseas move, adjustments, etc.  but I can't emotionally write about it any more tonight.   I will say though that there are many worse diseases that he could have.  Yes, there is no cure... but there is hope for a cure.  It is controllable. He can go on to do almost anything, just with a few adjustments and preparations.   My life has become much more complicated, but I manage day-by-day.

At his Kindergarten graduation his teacher gave me a folder with his school stuff in it.  There were two photos of him, one from the beginning of the year, I'm thinking maybe November, and the other photo was from April or May when he received student of the month.   It makes me sick to my stomach to see him.  How could we not have noticed???  How was that possible?

Thankfully, that is in the past. He is happier and healthier now then he has been in months and he is doing all the things that other 6 year-olds do.  Including losing teeth!  This is just a curve in the road, a left turn we didn't intend to take, but we took it, and we managed to find our way back.  Brosnan is an amazing child.  His strength, patience, and courage through all of this continues to amaze me.

    For anyone curious, a full list of symptoms of diabetes can be found at this link, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes/DS01121/DSECTION=symptoms

I thank all of you who have read this and promise I'll get back to our life in Thailand posts soon!   Although I will continue to elaborate on the Brosnan story as well.   


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One Month Down!

   We have been living in Bangkok for 1 month now and things are going quite well.  Justice has been in Quantico, Virginia for almost two weeks now for training on how to do his new job.  The boys and I have been hanging out at the house, swimming, and spending time with new friends.  Our express shipment (supposed to arrive within 30 days) has finally arrived in Bangkok, but has about another 3 weeks supposedly before it clears customs and will end up at our house.  Our household goods shipment (HHG) is ...well somewhere between here and Yuma, Arizona.  We have only the  items that we packed in our luggage and brought on the plane with us.  Thankfully we brought a television and the Xbox.  The kids have been playing WAY to many video games, but they have read most of the books we brought and their workbooks only hold their attention for so long.   They will be going into withdrawals in a few weeks when school starts!  I have been reading some books, surfing the web, and playing the horribly addictive game CandyCrush.  I love to hate that stupid game.  I am getting bored, but not really motivated enough to go downtown with the kids and do any sightseeing.  I need to do more research to find things that would really interest them.  I wish we had either of our shipments so at least I could be unpacking or something!

     We did go downtown last Sunday and went to see the kids movie "Turbo" and then out to dinner. We went with two of my husbands co-workers wives and their kids.   There were 8 kids in all.  We looked more like a daycare walking the streets then some friends out for an evening. We saw some more Thailand wildlife as we passed two GIANT RATS wandering the streets of Bangkok.   This was the second outing with these new friends and it felt very good to have some adult conversations with some friendly, down to earth women.  I am looking forward to future adventures with them!

     My goal lately has been trying to find domestic help.  Apparently everyone has a Nanny and/or maid.  It is ridiculously cheap (12,000-15,000 baht = $400-$500 USD)  to have full-time help either live at your house or live-out and work 6 days / week.   I read today that Thailand's minimum wage is like 300 baht / day which is roughly $10. USD.   So apparently a maid in our area is doing pretty well for themselves.   I have interviewed around 8 prospective workers now.  We have been going back and forth on whether we want full-time/ part-time, live in- or live out.  All have their positive and negatives.   I have interviewed Thais, Burmese, and Filipinos.  There are a few possibilities but I am just so undecided on exactly what I want.  I was thinking a live out would be sufficient, but then I started looking at the children's extra-curricular activities (3 kids, 3 different soccer teams, 3 different practice days/times, cub scouts and anything else they decide to get involved with), and then I started thinking about doing all of that alone because Justice is traveling or not home from work yet.... I started getting tired just thinking about it.   I went back to the idea that a live-in that has more flexibility and ability to help with making sure all the kids are where they need to be and have someone there to watch them.  So I don't know....  Still contemplating all of that I guess.    It is kind of crazy though,  people just call or ring my doorbell saying they heard I was looking for help.
       Other dilemma's relating to hired help is making sure that someone understands Brosnan and his diabetes.  I want/need someone that I can trust with him so that Justice and I can go out and enjoy some of Thailand's night life without worrying about the lives of the kids we left at home.  Thankfully, the Embassy's medical clinic has said that they will 'train' our help and explain to them what to watch for and how to care for him.  I want to find one reliable person to watch the kids whenever we need them to, so that I don't have to have multiple people responsible for controlling his diabetes.
        And then there is the culture aspect.  There is a Burmese girl (actually from Nepal), that I like and she was excited about there being smaller kids in the house, but she doesn't speak much Thai.  The way I view it is if we are going to have someone in our house all day long and caring for our children, I would like to also be able to get the cultural aspect from it.  I want someone that can cook us Thai food, help us understand Thai, and be able to communicate with other Thais when necessary.    Then there is still the part of me that thinks about how long I went with doing everything by myself. I don't need help.  I would much rather take the money and put it towards paying off bills...but when in Rome....   As my husband pointed out, I likely won't have the option to have help like this again. And I don't like to clean and this house is big....  and the idea of not having to cook if I don't want to....

   Anyways, that is what is going on right now.   I am to lazy to post any new pictures so next time I promise I will!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!


Monday, July 8, 2013

2 weeks here... A few things we've encountered

According to google translate that is "Hello"

     We have made it through our first two weeks in Thailand and so far we are adjusting well.   Our first few days were spent waking up super early (3-4am) and going to bed super early (6pm) thanks to jet lag.   We are now on our usual sleeping schedule and spend our days hanging out at the house, at one of the pools, or at a mall.

    So, what are some of the things that we have encountered that we have found odd or different in our new country??
    How about cereal- Fruit Loops-  The outside of the box looks the same as it did in the US, but when we opened it and poured the first bowl this is what we found. 
Fruit loops-  Not the same color and looks like bugs have been in the bag eating holes through all the pieces.   Thankfully it tastes the same (or close enough) to what the kids are used to.

       The embassy provides a "hospitality or survival" kit that contained basic household items, linens, dishes, pots & pans, and some basic cleaning tools.   This is the broom that was provided.   I have never seen a broom so shiny and pretty.   Also never heard of a company that makes cleaning supplies called, "The Black Man."  Not really sure if that would go over as being politically correct in the states. 
While we are the subject of politically correct, I found this restaurant that delivers Mexican, American, Italian, and Thai food.  We have ordered from there a few times and the food is decent.  When looking at the menu, I noticed the logo, "support your local wetback."  Not sure if you would see an advertisement in the states with that specific wording.
   This picture was taken on the window of a Taxi Cab.   Interpret how you wish.  It could represent a number of things.  I have not spent much time in cabs, probably rode in more in the last two weeks then I have in my entire life, but I don't recall seeing this photo.  No wrestling, no fighting, no???  It is Bangkok after all :-)  

    This is our new "car."  This is how most residents in Nichada Thani get around.   There is even special "golf cart" parking reserved for us at the near by mall, Central Plaza (Chaengwattana).  
     This is our new favorite past time.   Driving remote control monster truck over 5 year old being held down by his older brother and dad.  

Wild Life-
   When driving above golf-cart home from the store, Justice X (the young one) and I saw one of these run across the road.  It was at least 12-18 inches from head to toe.  I would have stopped to take a photo but did not want to get hit by the drivers behind us.

Those things moving around in the water are fish.  Some are huge.   The kids like to feed them. I am pretty sure they would eat a  person if a person decide to swim in that particular lake.  

The lake in Nichada where the fish from above live.  
 That's enough for now.  I will have to kidnap Justice's (the big one's) phone to get some other strange photos off it.   Apparently there is a big Komodo dragon / water monitor (lizard) that hangs out at the Embassy complex.  He took some pictures of it.   

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our First Overseas PCS (permanent change of station)

****This was written a couple weeks ago and I tried to post, but only this part of it saved.  There was a lot more that I had written detailing the week before our move.  I refuse to go back and add any more info to it...  Moving forward, not backwards, but I wanted to at least get this out there***

When I last posted, we had just found out that we were moving to Bangkok, Thailand. Now, 5 months later we are days away from boarding a plane and heading to our new home. The last few weeks have probably...no, they HAVE been, the most stressful weeks of my life. Short version for now, but on May 30, my middle son Brosnan (6) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He was immediately admitted to Yuma Regional Medical Center. Three days later after we were released from the hospital we went home to begin our new life of needles, insulin, glucose monitors, and finger pricks. I will elaborate on that whole story later. Right now lets focus on the move...

Our original scheduled departure date was June 15th, 17 days after B was diagnosed. There are several factors that go into allowing a service member and their family to move overseas. One major factor is the families health (physical, educational, mental, etc.). Every member of the family is screened through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) to determine if there are any concerns that can not be adequately treated at the next duty station. We were approved a few months ago but with Brosnans new diagnosis we had to start over with him. The original response we received was basically, "sorry, you can't move to Thailand." Thankfully, my husband is not one to take no for an answer so we began doing our own research, making sure that there are pediatric endocrinologists and medicine available. After lots of emails and phone calls my husband had finally received a verbal yes from all the necessary parties, next step was to get all those parties to say yes to each other. So we proceeded as planned with the movers, keeping our fingers crossed that everything would come together.

Which brings us to Friday, June 7th.
Last day of school for Justice, my mom was visiting from Washington state and we were preparing for a garage sale. Saturday morning we woke early and started selling.
Two days and a few hundred dollars later the garage sale was over. We loaded the car with remaining items and donated to the family readiness officer (FRO) to give to young Marines and their families. Sunday night was a mad dash to figure out and separate any and all items that we wanted the movers to take the next day in our express shipment.

We made it to Thailand!!

We made it to Bangkok!
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

My husband pretty much summed up the last few weeks via a facebook post during our travels.: 

"5 people, 15 checked bags, 11 carry ons, 5 medical and dental clearances and one re-cleared, 1 top secret clearance, 5 diplomatic passports, 5 regular passports, 5 diplomatic visas, 1 vehicle totaled, 1 vehicle traded in, 1 vehicle shipped overseas, 10 weeks with a rental car, 8 days in a hotel, 3 kids enrolled in the international school, 1 shipment of household goods to arrive in 30 days, 1 shipment of household goods to arrive in 90 days, 1 shipment of storage for the next 3 years, and 1 house in Thailand waiting for us. Just a 20 hour flight to go."

    We are finally here.  The stress of all of the above is behind us and we are now living a more relaxed life.  Still some stress exists  of trying to find our place in a brand new culture but it is fun and exciting.   Now we wait for our Express Shipment, Household goods, and our car to arrive. 

     The above picture was taken at about 11:30 pm Bangkok time which was 9:30 am, Yuma, Arizona time.  That equates to almost 30 hours after we left our hotel at MCAS Yuma. We are all pretty tired.  The excitement wore off pretty quick during the airplane rides.  Our flight from Yuma to LAX was about an hour long. 

Yuma International Airport, 6ish am June 22, 2013

When we boarded the plan everyone was happy and energetic!

       Shortly after we boarded the plane from Tokyo, Japan to Bangkok all of the boys (including the husband) were passed out.  Luckily it was not a full flight so they all had a little bit of room to stretch out.

 All-in-all, traveling went smooth.  The kids behaved themselves as much as expected considering the length of the flights, we arrived safely, no delays, and with all of our luggage waiting for us!   Our Sponsor, and Justice's co-worker, Captain Green, met us at the airport and helped coordinate a van to take us to our new home.

    Our house is in a community called Nichada Thani, rumored to be the nicest housing area in all of Thailand.   It is a gated community with several sub-divisions each with their own security guard.   I feel very comfortable living here as far as security is concerned.  Our house is the first on our street in Premier Place 2.  We live right next to the community pool (each sub-division has one, and there is also an olympic sized pool at the clubhouse about a mile away). There is a small playground directly behind our house.  
       The house itself is pretty big.  There are 3 living areas, 4 bedrooms, and 5 bathrooms.  The kids are all pretty excited to have their very own bathrooms!  There is not much of a yard, but there is a small patch of grass in the front.
Front Yard

Family Room (kids TV room)

Downstairs bathroom

Dining Room


Living room

Den Area

Ceiling in Living room

Looking down the stairs into living room

Justice's bedroom

Green outside Justice's window

Brosnan's Bathroom

Master bedroom

Master Closet

Master Bath

Master Bath

Looking down the street

Other direction / Security guard station
Front of House

Main Living room
    I think that is enough for now.   I will write again soon with how life has been since we arrived.