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.

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.