16.9.14

So I did the ice bucket challenge....

I really didn't think the ice bucket challenge would make it to me. It wasn't a big thing in Thailand at all. But then Brenda did it, and challenged me.

So I played along, sort of, and made this little video. Take a look. It's a bit long, but I promise it's not what you might expect. Also, you get to see all the cute kids from the migrant village near where we live that we teach an English class to every week.



If you're wondering where the Boy is in this, he had the kind of school week that involved procrastination on several bits of work and then the unfortunate consequence of missing out on other things because he was still working on school. It would have been way better with him there. He's good with a camera.

14.8.14

42 photos/reasons why I love my husband - Celebrating 14 years

Moving overseas, they say, can be one of the hardest things to put a marriage through. I'd have to say that they are right. Aaron and I have probably had more fights this past year since moving to Thailand than in the previous 6 years combined.

He rocks the tribal clothing.
 They were always over stupid things on the surface, little annoyances that we would snap at each other over, the leaky points at which all the stress, and fear of screwing up, and the patience that is always required here just plain worn thin and wearing out against each other.

Some are even funny, in retrospect.

There was that one time when I was 8 months pregnant and proudly told Aaron that I felt like I was getting the hang of using squatty potties finally. He, squatty evangelist that he is, grinned big and stated, "They're better than western style toilets, aren't they?"

I could not bring myself to agree, pointed out the difference between getting the hang of and actually liking said toilets and then told him that I still preferred western toilets because they contained things so nicely and you don't end up with a slight misting of the ankles and toes when you use them. I know, yuck.

He then had the audacity to tell his very pregnant wife that she must be using them wrong.

That may have been when I started yelling really loud that he had no idea what he was talking about, I've been squatting to pee since I was small and went camping in the summers, and how dare he tell me that I'm not peeing right after 37 years of practice when he'd never, ever, had to try doing it with my parts, HE HAS A HANDLE!


But we made it. We've got the first year under our belts and we're past one of the more difficult hurdles. We celebrated 14 years last week.


Date selfie.



Taken by our waiter. Of course Dek came with us. He cries if I leave him behind just to go to the bathroom.
So I decided to post some of my favorite photos of Aaron from this past year that illustrate many of the things I love about this man, and why I'm glad to be doing this crazy adventure we call life beside him.


He makes things fun, lightens situations that I would just stay heavy in. He makes us laugh.

He works hard to deliver awesome adventures and experiences to our kids.

He looks really sexy holding a newborn. Also proud.

He's a man I'm glad my boys want to imitate.

Did I mention he's fun? They know they can play and wrestle with him.

He's an expert in baby talk.

Protective and inclusive at the very same time. Seriously, do you know how hard that is?

He's always teaching, our kids, other people. It's all about discovery.

Sheer awesomeness.

He can drive long hours in crazy weather and get us there safe, fueled by caffeine and snacks.

This is where he starts to get comfortable. When everything is strange and different and unknown, that's his comfort zone. He thrives on it.

He's a good dad.

There he is doing that discovery thing again. Look at this giant snake skin!!!

Did I mention funny? Kids love him.

He teaches the kids to cook exotic foods from scratch.

Its' awesome being married to a foodie that cooks. So many amazing meals.

His is the hand you want to hold when venturing somewhere a bit scary.

He catches things, just to look at them because they're cool.

He's never dropped a baby, and he tosses them around and makes their life exciting all the time.


He makes friends so quickly, and again, that comfortable thing.


He has strong shoulders for our kids to stand on. Literally, and metaphorically.


He works hard, until he can't work anymore. He says he has more important things to do than sleep.

I just love looking at this picture.

He comes home early to help the Boy launch his raft.

The kids always ask him what the things they find are, because he often knows.

Crazy eyes. He knows how to make me laugh.

Umm, yeah. The epicness. Always striving for epicness.

He's always at the back, standing apart, the quiet rebel. I always like watching him like this.

He makes epic caramel corn.



This list is by no means exhaustive, it's just for fun.

8.8.14

Home - #1000gifts

Our hostess, her son, and his bride during the ceremony.

The groom's father speaking.

A marriage blessing from the oldest man in the community.





I'm sitting at a wedding dinner, in a spacious house made of mud bricks with a tin roof that clamors loudly when the rain pours out of the sky. Women are busily bringing out bowls of food and dishing them up, rice, chicken curry, spicy fermented fish sauce to dip vegetables in, and a soup made of boiled bamboo shoots and bitter leaf. Suddenly a pan of buns appears, fresh from the oven. "Western food," our hostess smiles, "for the kids. I think they might not like Burmese food. My nephew knows how to make them." Something about the buttery smell on the golden tops of the buns, combined with the vegetable smell of the soup takes me back to my grandmother's kitchen table in western Canada and the lunch she would serve in winter. It's the exact same smell. It smells like home.




I feel a shift inside, surprised at this feeling of home, here in Thailand. I didn't expect this. Especially not in the middle of a migrant camp in rainy season, with no electricity, and the mud running everywhere in rivulets as the sky unloads itself.

I eat buns that taste just like grandma's, baked by a Burmese man in a gas oven in my friend's mud brick kitchen with screen free windows open to the beautiful mountains beyond.



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I wash the serving spoon in the kitchen, because it was covered with red ants when I plunged it into the rice the first time. There is no towel, and it must be dried because the water I washed it in is not safe to drink. I decide to use a corner of my nice skirt to dry it, thinking that I will make that sacrifice for my friend's sake, for her party guests.

"Oh, don't let any Burmese see you wiping something with your skirt!" She tells me. "That is very bad manners."

I offer to wash it again but she doesn't care, and shoes me out with the spoon.

"Still foreign," I think. Making the necessary mental adjustment yet again. "Still so much unknown."

***********************
She hands me a piece of paper and asks me to write down that English saying about if the mother isn't happy no one is happy. "I like it, I want to put it up in my kitchen."

I think she heard Aaron say it once. I write, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

I try to explain as I hand it back that it's poor English grammar but that's how the saying goes. I'm not sure I'm successful at explaining why we English speakers like to pervert our own language in casual speech, but she thanks me anyway.

***********************

 
The Boy sits down at the table, plate laden with food, loaded generously, Burmese style, by the ladies manning the table. "I like this better than the Western food," he says, as he shovels it in. He's dressed exactly right for this sort of event. A shirt with a collar but all dark colors that the mud can't ruin. He's done this all on his own. Somehow, this month he's started caring about such things as dressing appropriately, understanding that it's part of showing respect in this culture.

"May I stay behind and help clean up?" He asks, as I prepare to leave.

"Sure," I answer. "You can walk home when you're done."

"Be sure and put him to work," I tell my friend as we leave, and she does, getting him to move piles of plastic chairs and tables for her.

He arrives home a few hours later, tired, and happy.

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During the ceremony Dek sits, and walks around, excited about everything, and goes to other people who reach out to pick him up and play with him.

I let him stand and walk around the room during the meal, and every time I turn around, someone else has picked him up and taken him for a walk around the village.



I never worry that he will be hurt or lost here.

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Little picked flowers at our house to bring to the wedding. She hands them to our host, who puts them in her hair. Flowers, Little has learned, are always a welcome gift.



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The boys outside start putting ice down the dresses of all of the girls. My Girl loads up on ice and decimates them, beating them at their own game and winning at the wrestling too.

"I didn't expect it to be fun," she says as we're driving home. "I got ALL the boys with ice!"

She's sweaty and dirty and exuberant.

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One evening we are sitting together outside my friend's house, waiting for Aaron to come back with the car and drive us home. I tell her how much I liked her nephews buns. We talk about the different words for bread that westerners have, as specific as the many different Asian words for rice. I tell her how strange it is to me that they taste so much like my grandmother's bread. "Oh, so it's a memory from when you were small," she says. "That is good."

The next day she arrives at my house to pick up the clothes I have for her to take to Burma for the children when she goes next week. She hands me a bag full of freshly baked buns. I open it up and breath deep.

It smells like home.



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