8.11.14

One Day

I participated in the One Day party on Instagram again this year, hosted by Laura of HollyWood HouseWife. Every year that I do this I think to myself I will follow up by making it into a blog post so that readers who aren't on IG can see what goes on in a typical day here. This year, it's the third year, I'm actually doing it. So without further ado, one day of my life, in photos.

A child always wakes me up in the morning, rarely ever is it the baby. Then today I have to wake this guy up because he has a super early breakfast date with our oldest son, who is 13 today. He wants to get breakfast at the Burmese tea shop in the city, and they start early. If you wait to go until 8am they might be out of everything.

I decide to to so quick lice check before my shower because my head's been feeling just a bit itchy and someone we know told us she found lice. I've been checking the girls obsessively and they're fine so I didn't expect to find anything. One adult louse, several nits later... Crap.
Lice is everywhere here. You sort of get used to it.

Next stop, laundry room. I love my laundry room. It's big, and has room to hang a full load of laundry in it if it's raining.

Present wrapping time. You can't buy salt n vinegar chips anywhere in our city. But Aaron got these at the one store in Chiangmai that we've found that sells them. Chocolate is pretty expensive here so these are really big treats. Exciting enough to wrap. The Boy shares a love language in chocolate with me.

Prepping birthday surprises. BamBam really wants those presents to be for him.
Our friend Mike just arrived last night. He and his wife are thinking about moving to Thailand next year to help out with The Charis Project. I snuck a photo of him skyping with his kids back in California.

The guys brought back tea house breakfast. Nambia (flatbread), dahl, samosas, Burmese donuts, milk tea. The Burmese eat a lot of fried, oily foods. It's their main source of calories. They are usually very thin because they work hard and don't get a lot to eat.

We don't usually have someone unwrapping presents at the breakfast table. This day is a bit atypical. He loves the pocket microscope we got him.

After breakfast I walk around the house for the first time in a while and pull some vines that have grown all over things during rainy season. I was going to show you my pepper tree completely engulfed by a wild passion fruit vine, but the baby under the jack fruit tree is a lot cuter.

This is the drive into town from our house. I'm a big fan of living in the country. It's balm for my soul.
The Boy wants pizza and nachos for his birthday dinner. I almost never buy cheese, so it's a treat. He wants sausage, bacon, and pineapple pizza to be exact. I can't just go to the store for Italian sausage. It starts with fresh ground pork at this butcher, and then the spices in my kitchen. I will not worry about casings. Aaron has perfected bacon curing, we sell it in @thecharisproject's shop here, so that part is easy.

Aaron and the girls take Mike to the #charisfarm to check it out. The kids love to swim in the fish ponds.

The boys opt to stay home from the farm and put together the 3D puzzle BamBam chose for the Boy's birthday gift.

Dek is napping, the boys are playing together, Aaron and the girls are showing Mike around town. It's time for me to work. I'm putting together the handouts and outline for the next prenatal class for @thecharisproject. We're on week 8, and moving into keeping babies and toddlers healthy, disease prevention, etc. We're working to help the poorer women in our community to be empowered as mothers and as women. Many of them have never before seen a diagram of what their reproductive organs look like or know how they work. Explaining to them how conception works and babies grow is revelatory.  It's one of my favorite things I get to do here. Ps. I love my office, with its big windows and spectacular views. Even if it is the warmest room in the house.

My office has pretty nice views, you can see all the way to Burma. But out the other window I can see this little migrant village. A neighbor is blasting some Burmese covers of classic rock n roll songs right now.
The rain comes up suddenly. We're nearing the end of rainy season. Which means it doesn't rain every day, but it still rains a few times a week. (Come dry season, and then hot season, there will be no rain at all.) As soon as it starts to rain I run outside to grab all the laundry. Even under cover it will get really wet again, the air is so damp.

"Mommy, can I go out in da rain and get wet?"

We usually go to a nearby migrant village to teach the kids English this day. Their parents speak Burmese or Lisu, and they'll learn to speak Thai at the government school. English is just one more tool we are giving them to help them in the future.

This kid really wanted to help with the birthday dinner. Even making pizza dough.

Pressed the girls into service grating cheese for nachos. I forgot to take a photo of the nachos. It's the first time we've had them since coming to Thailand. I found a place in town that sells real corn chips!
Sunsets here are beautiful. Daily.
I put the pizzas in the oven and didn't realize there was no flame. We ran out of gas. Aaron and one of our guests went out to buy another canister while the pizzas waited.

The big boys keep themselves busy playing with the toys while we wait for pizza.

After baking at least a dozen pizzas, much later than intended thanks to running out of gas, we finally get around to the cake. (We always seem to run out of gas while cooking something fancy or special.)

He's a little bit introverted my son. I asked if he wanted a party and he declined in favor of just spending a large portion of the day reading by himself at the farm. He requested one friend, and his family, join us for dinner. But as the day progressed he called me and added more guests to the list. In the end he had a small party after all. I'm grateful that he has a few good friends. A boy like him, that's all he needs.

It's rather late when we say goodbye to all our guests and get everyone ready for bed. I hope the kids all fall asleep quickly.
He's exhausted. But he keeps talking. I'm trying to let him, and really listen, because, my 13 year old still talks to me, and tells me all the the random things stuffed in his brain! I sit here every night waiting for the 4 year old to fall asleep. It's a pretty good excuse to be present while he's sorting through all of the thoughts and events of the day.
Now it's this kid's turn to sleep. It's 12am here. No wonder I'm tired.

I put away the rest if the food left out, but don't bother to tidy beyond what it already is. The morning brings with it the girl I pay to help around the house. She'll take care of it, and be happy I have something for her to do so she's not bored.

Facebook and I had a moment. Most of my friends are awake now and being interesting. But I just saw the time. I'm signing off at 1am. Not shown today are the number of times I've gone through my hair with a lice comb, (4) and the big water bottles in the back of the car to illustrate the part of the day when we were out of drinking water because Aaron hasn't returned from town yet with refilled bottles. Headed to brush my teeth and find something to cover my hair with before laying down. Goodnight all. Thanks @hollywoodhwife for hosting. It's been fun.

3.11.14

False Alarms and Energy Drinks

She hands me a little plastic bag through the driver window. “Ah Sayama, chesu tin ba deh.” (Teacher, thank you, in Burmese.) I let my surprise show on my face. Not over the drinks, the ladies have taken to giving me these little gratitude tokens every week, almost always an energy drink. They must think I look tired.



I’m not expecting to see her because I drove her to the clinic two days ago to have a baby, along with her sister, her husband, and her sister’s husband, to help take care of her.

There she is, still pregnant, laughing, a little embarrassed, and ready for class this week.

I save my questions for when we arrive, because Tintin can translate for me when we get there.

“When I got there they checked me, but I’m still not dilated,” she says. “When sayama, she checked me in the car and told me it would be a long time, I was just worried about getting to the clinic in time. I didn’t want to have to call her in the middle of the night. And when she offered to go and wait at her house I didn’t want her to be put out because I had people with me. So thank you Sayama.”

I hadn’t been completely certain that she wasn’t actually having any contractions, and just Braxton Hicks, after watching her for a few minutes. They are greatly stoic people after all. She could just be a really quiet laborer. But I knew that she had a long ways to go before a baby was imminent. That much was clear. Her water had definitely not broken yet, unlike what I had been told. I realized I should have asked how many pieces of clothing were soaked when her water broke. Things like the distinction between water and cervical mucus can be really lost in translation. I need to determine quantity of liquid in the future.

She, and at least 4 others, started coming to class after we talked about signs of labor. That’s something we need to fix today, rather than wait for the review class in a few weeks. Many of them are due in the next month.



I ask her to tell the class what happened as a preamble to going over the signs of labor again. I’ve never seen her smile this much. She always stares wide eyed and worried during class. She’s always seemed serious, and a little bit afraid. Tonight she is laughing, she is telling them about it and smiling.

I explain the difference between mucus, and water breaking, and she makes a note of it. I talk about looking for pink or brown in the mucus to show the cervix is opening, and how much water there usually is when your water actually breaks. I explain about timing contractions, how long they get, and how far apart, before it’s time to go to the clinic. I tell them that with my first baby I thought it was labor way too early too, everyone does. They laugh, relieved it's not just them.

She reiterates that she doesn’t want to wake us up late at night, Tintin, or me, and I tell her again that it’s no problem. Babies come at night. I expect to be woken up when their babies are finally ready to come.

But it’s good to see her smile, and laugh, like the false alarm has provided her some much needed comfort with the whole thing, and alleviated some of her fear for when it really is time for that baby to come.

Edited to add [TinTin just told me today that this girl felt really honored to be asked to tell the class about what happened, and that I had offered to take her to my house. That's one of the reasons she was smiling so much. So that's pretty cool, that treating these women like I would treat one of my western friends makes them feel honored. They receive so little honor from their culture or the country they reside in. The Burmese even have a ridiculous taboo against hanging women's clothes to dry up high, or above men's clothing. So that made my day.]

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.

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