For several reasons, I have decided to make the change the blog from blogger to wordpress. Check out the new blog at:
See you over there! :)
Friday, March 21, 2014
Over our Christmas break, we ventured to get our Thai drivers licenses. We would have been fine obtaining an international license from AAA but they only last one year (and we would pay $30/year for both of us to get them). Additionally, if we were to be pulled over for anything and it was put "on record," it would be put on our Minnesota record, since an international license is given through the state.
There were several things we had to get in order before actually going to the "DMV":
- I had to get a notarized affidavit indicating that I do indeed reside in Thailand; Mike did not have to do this because he has a work visa. This cost $50.00. I had to laugh at the embassy worker because he took one look at me, probably thought I was younger than I really am and asked, "Are you SURE you want to be driving in Bangkok?" I told him that I already do, to which he replied, "PLEASE be careful." Thankful for his heart and wanting for me to be safe...driving in Bangkok can indeed be chaotic.
- Health certificate indicating we are in good health and physically capable of driving. The interesting thing about this, is that we walked into a nearby pharmacy and paid $6.00 for the certificates. No exam. No questions. Nothing. Just the exchange of the certificates for money.
- We had to fill out a license application, gather our passports, passport pictures, as well as copies of every page of our passports (and sign every page).
Then we were finally ready to go the DMV. We had to do this within 30 days of the date we obtained the affidavit and health certificates, or else we would have to start all over.
Our Thai friend, Wat, took us to the DMV to assist us in the process. We got there as early as possible and what do you know...just like the MN DMV, we waited and waited. :) We were supposed to watch an hour long video on driving cautiously in Bangkok, but we somehow missed it (darn!). It wouldn't have proved that helpful anyway since it was all in Thai! Then we were shuffled into a room with about 15 other people and had to take 4 tests.
Test #1: test for color recognition/blindness by looking at a stop light and indicating the name of the color that turns on.
Test #2: place your chin on a machine and name the color of the light that you see in your peripheral vision.
Test #3: test your reflexes by accelerating on a gas pedal when you see a green light and slamming on the breaks as soon as the light turns red.
Test #4: test your depth perception by using a remote to maneuver a vertical electronic post forward or backwards to be parallel with a stationary vertical post. The two posts are located in a box 15-20 feet away from where you stand and you have to get the posts parallel within a 3 centimeter margin on either side.
All of the tests were easy for us to do, despite feeling a little nervous after many people before us needed to repeat test #3. Correction...I was feeling nervous. Mike said the only reason he was feeling nervous was because he kept thinking about all the people around him that maybe couldn't slam on the breaks fast enough to prevent an accident.
After we passed all of our tests and got the stamp of approval, we paid our dues for the cards ($12.00) and walked out with our new licenses.
These licenses are a temporary one year license. We will have to go through this whole process again next Christmas break to obtain 5 year licenses. So for 6 years of a current license, it will be $136 if prices don't change from this year to next. For 6 years of an international drivers license it would be $180 and a possible Minnesota record if anything were to happen. So despite the hassle of going to the embassy and waiting at the Thai DMV, I think it is worth it.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Lately, I have found myself worrying. Worrying about what certain people may think of me or how they may react to the things that I do or say. At times, it has paralyzed me due to fear. Other times, it has made me frustrated that I don't feel that I can be myself and to say or do what I feel is necessary. As I have prayed and processed, I have to admit, I have found freedom in clinging to Proverbs 29:25: "The fear if man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." I am finding that having fear of man inhibits my ability to fear God and to hear Him clearly.
My heart has recently been stirred to take Thai classes to be able to grow in relationship with our Thai neighbors and condo complex guards. We are meeting so many wonderful people when we take our regular evening walks with the twins, or when I go running around the complex. The guards now recognize us and love to try to get our children to smile and laugh at them. It is delightful. I know it would be even more delightful if we could communicate better and grow in relationship.
Upon coming to Thailand, we were so focused on the ministry of the school and put off learning Thai since we were busy with adjusting to life in new country, learning the ins and outs of a new school, figuring out how to teach AP classes for the first time, etc. By year three, when it finally felt that we were in our groove and perhaps ready to take on language classes, we found our family multiplying in size. The first year of life with the twins was a blur with jumping into parenthood and adjusting to what the new normal was. I wish I could remember more from that first year, but honestly, it was hard for me to even hold a conversation due to extreme sleep deprivation. :) I now find myself in a place where I feel comfortable leaving the twins with our helper for a while, not feel guilty about it, and not have to worry about nursing or pumping.
So what does all of this have to do with the fear of man?
I am not a "yes-man." I say no to most things, honestly. A large part of it is due to being an introvert (I'm sure only introverts themselves really truly understand that). Another part of it is because I simply cannot handle having my hands in a lot of things...I like to dedicate myself to one or two things and do them really well. And the last part of it is that I guard my time and energy so that God and my family are my top priorities. Because if my priorities are not right, I am not patient and loving towards my family, I cannot be a model of Christ-like love, I don't demonstrate the gospel to my children, I am not a prayerful wife, I don't discipline lovingly to nurture and guide. Honestly, I just act ugly.
So as God stirs my heart's affection for my neighbors and our neighborhood guards, and lays on my heart to take intensive Thai classes, it means less. Less opportunity to play with my children during the day when I go to class, less time to meal plan and have dinner ready for a tired husband, less time to take a cat nap when the kids are sleeping so that I feel rested and ready to lovingly display the gospel to them, and less time with friends because I will be saying "no" even more to guard the precious family time that I do have. It also means less energy. As a former language student and teacher, I know how mentally draining it is to intensely learn a new language. When I lived in Spain and learned through full immersion, I took naps that were 3 hours long after school and then slept 10 hours at night. With age comes responsibility, so I unfortunately don't have the luxury to do that now that I am no longer 16. ;)
I have been fearing the potential reactions of being more guarded and even more of a "no-man". Fearing mainly that I will be misunderstood...that me saying "no" will come across as me being insensitive, unsupportive or mean. As I write this, it sounds so silly...things that God has placed on my heart and how to best care for my family vs. fearing what others may think of me if I follow through with what God has placed on my heart and how I care for my family.
I recently read this devotional on the fear of man by Mars Hill Church. An excerpt from it said, "We live with either the fear of God or the fear of man. It's impossible to live fearing both God and someone else at the same time. Whom we fear determines what we do and how we live."
I don't want to miss out on what God has for me just because I am fearful of what someone thinks of me. So today I commit to choosing. Choosing faith instead of fear. Choosing to fear God instead of man. Choosing joy instead of worry. Choosing to surrender instead of cling to opinion of others. Choosing to be obedient to His call instead of the world's. Choosing to be the "no-man" when I feel it is necessary and choosing not to feel guilty about being more guarded.
So if I say no to you, it's not because I don't care for you...it's because I care about how my heart has been stirred by God and because I care about honoring and loving my family well.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
It happens every year; I get in a slump and feel really homesick. It usually starts right around the the time the leaves start changing color in Minnesota, when it is bonfire and apple picking season, when it is cool enough to wear jeans and a sweater but not quite cold enough for a jacket on top, when it smells like fall and fresh cut wood and when the leaves crunch beneath my feet. A season where caramel apples and apple cider are in their peak, where Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but the anticipation of Christmas isn't too far off, when Caribou Coffee has their pumpkin spice lattes and a fire in their fireplace. The homesickness peaks around Christmas when I would love to be with family and slowly wanes as I remember just how cold and dreary the winter months can be in Minnesota.
But nonetheless, I grieve. I grieve not being with family, not having them see our children grow up and know who they are except via skype and pictures when we aren't visiting during the summer . I grieve being away for celebrations, holidays and family dinners. I yearn for convenient grocery shopping, pull in (instead of backing in) parking, orderly lines, for people to not assume I am Thai, malls that don't require you to take a seemingly pointless parking card that ends up causing traffic jams during busy times, for driving or traffic that doesn't seem quite as chaotic, where I don't feel as guarded when making new friends since it is a revolving door with contracts around here, and for many other little, yet perhaps ridiculously convenient things that I have often taken for granted.
It's hard. I don't always like to admit that; I think in large part because I understand and know that this is where God has called us. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt at times, or that I won't longingly look online for jobs and houses back in the states, that I won't get sad when I see pictures on Facebook of things my friends are doing, that I won't cry when I wish I could have been at a funeral, or give a hug to a friend on a rough day, or meet a new baby.
Being in Thailand often seems like a choice to many people. And in one way or another, it is. After all, I can choose to obey or disobey the call that God places on my heart and life. But I choose to obey...sometimes it is while digging my heels in or while having to make a conscious effort to do so, or even while throwing a tantrum. Now don't get me wrong, we love the school and the mission/ministry of it, we love the expat community we have and the wonderful group of friends we have made, and we love our small group...those are the things that make life here so great (and keeps us sane in difficult times)! But there are definitely times when being halfway around the world does indeed feel like a sacrifice and I wish it didn't take 24 hours to get to Minnesota just for a hug from my parents.
Read this great article: Outlawed Grief, a Curse Disguised
|Giving grandparents kisses via skype.|
|Picture family album...how our kids are learning family members and names.|
Auntie Sarah & Uncle Pete, Grandpa Gary & Grandma K.
|Grandpa Dave, Cousin Bennett & Grandma C, Godparents Uncle P. and Auntie T.|
|Uncle Ben, Auntie Em, Cousin Bennett & Uncle Joey|
Grandpa Gary & Uncle Greg
Monday, November 18, 2013
Aside from getting married and having children, nothing in life has caused me to pray more than driving in Bangkok. Bangkok streets are full of potholes (nothing that a Minnesota resident isn't used to after a long winter), traffic jams, lanes that are created out of nowhere, busses that pay no attention to you, pedestrians that cross whenever they wish, and motorbikes that zip in and out of traffic (usually giving me a partial heart attack).
Photo from google
Photo from google
So needless to say, when we decided to get a car, the thought of driving here terrified me. I wasn't sure I could do it. I mean, I was the kid growing up who was fine not getting my driver's license. There was a time where I thought my brothers, my parents and then my husband would drive me around so basically I would never need to learn. Clearly I did get my license, but driving has never been something that I enjoy. But I knew that having a car here was really a necessity with the twins along with the move to our new condo...
We had become every taxi driver's worst nightmare by the end of last year with our stroller that was too large to fit in the trunk due to their natural gas tank, and needed to be put in the front seat but often times was dirty and got in the way of shifting. And we were quite the spectacle getting in and out when we had groceries...those poor drivers were patient with us, thankfully. But then there were the times that the twins would be screaming their heads off, banging on the windows, crawling around in the back, and causing a ruckus. Two words my friends: car seats. Yes, I know they are law in America, but they aren't here in Thailand...boy on boy, do car seats make a world of difference. Additionally, we have had plenty of a scary scary drivers...the kind where you fear for your life. And then to add kids into the mix...yep, we knew we were done with taxis.
Then there was our move. We moved to a condo complex about 15 minutes from school. It is more of a Thai neighborhood than Parkland ever was, so it feels a little more remote. There isn't a convenient taxi stand just right outside the complex (there are motos, but not taxis), so if you need a taxi, you have to pay a moto 20 baht to go fetch you a taxi.
Anyway, having a car has been life changing. It has made trips to school, church, the park, small group, play group, etc. possible without feeling overwhelmed and worn. Mike has taken to driving nicely...he is confident and directionally knowledgable. He has had very little hesitation driving a manual on steep parking ramps, backing into parking spots, parallel parking from the opposite side, navigating traffic, etc.
I have been slower to warming up to it all. Despite owning a manual car back in the states, I have had to kind of relearn how to drive because of a more sensitive clutch. Driving with kids is a different experience too...especially if I am alone with the twins. Screaming children, Bangkok traffic, being slightly directionally challenged, going somewhere new...wow, talk about a stressful situation for me. However, I have gotten significantly more comfortable, slightly more aggressive, and much more confident as I have learned to navigate the roads better. I decided to start backing into a parking spot at our condo (it is not necessary) to get practice, which has made parking at the mall a breeze and not stressful when people are waiting behind me.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Hello dear reader, it has been a while. Thanks for stopping by despite my lack of posts.
-Mike finished coaching basketball. (Thank you Jesus!)
-We are enjoying more family time now because of him no longer coaching
-Next big thing for Mike is field day in December; it is a big event so you can pray for the planning and that all the details would come together nicely.
-I am getting much more comfortable driving here in Bangkok. (More on that next post...)
-I have been enjoying running again and am planning on running my first post pregnancy race in December. It is only a 10k, but you have to start somewhere!
-We have always enjoyed every stage the twins have been in, but one seems particularly fun and entertaining.
-We went on vacation to Phuket (pronounced pooh-ket) for a week to visit our fear friends who recently moved there (pics in another blog post)
-Wosdom in parenting
-Consistency in discipline
-Disciplined quiet times
-This time of year at ICS teachers need to submit their letter of intent, indicating their plans for next year. It seems that there will be quite a few of our close friends leaving this next year, which is always hard. It is easy not to want to engage or invest once you know someone is leaving. So prayers to desire to want to be involved and pursue friendships despite the outcome.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
I will be honest...these past few days, I have really been struggling to be joyful and content in my circumstances. A large part of it is just my pride and my desire for things to go the way I expect or in a way that doesn't inconvenience me.
Sunday mornings always throw us into a shift in schedule with church and a lack of a long morning nap. This essentially throws off the start of the week with tired and grumpy babies. Needless to say, there's part of me that doesn't look forward to going to church these days. Sunday night was filled with Owen pooping in the bathtub, later having an explosive blowout diaper that got all over his pajamas, and then neither child going to sleep until 8:30. Monday morning, both kids were up earlier than anticipated, Emma had three massively poopy diapers within a two hour span of time and she was clingy and tired. Owen was particularly whiny, is currently in a stage of boycotting all solid foods so throws all his food on the floor, and then he was falling everywhere and hitting his head because he was tired, and stealing toys from Emma but hollering like a crazy man if she tried to get it back.
It is hard for me to put Owen down for a nap when Emma wants to cling to me or screams like a banshee if I set her down, so I usually wait for our helper, Miss Ning, to arrive first. She normally arrives around 9, but because we are in the rainy season, flooding will sometimes affect her commute. So by 9:30 when she arrived, I had two screaming babies and several poopy cloth diapers to spray out, I hadn't eaten breakfast and I was a mess emotionally.
Sigh. It's hard to fight for joy in those moments. It's easy for me to give in to ugly thoughts and feelings towards my job as a mother, towards my husband who leaves each morning for work and can't help with the hard Monday mornings, towards Owen and Emma for not sleeping a bit longer so they aren't as tired and crabby.
So in trying to fight for joy this morning, I thought I would write down some things for which I am thankful, counteracting my poor attitude with gratefulness...
Beautiful and healthy babies
Great healthcare at an international hospital
A husband who cares for one of the twins in the middle of the night so I can get sleep
A husband who works hard so I can stay at home with our babies
A husband who decided not to coach soccer so he has more time with his family
A wonderful helper who loves our children
Technology to stay in touch with family and friends around the world
A church we are fed at
Time to read (and blog!) when Emma naps in a carrier on my chest
Time to cook
The new condo we are living in
The way Owen laughs hysterically when he thinks Emma is chasing him (she usually isn't)
Toothy baby grins
Homemade caramel macchiatos
Friends who check in and are intentional about seeing me
Sprinkle water delivery so I don't have to fill up jugs of water from the filtered faucet anymore
How Emma loves kissing Owen, laying on his back and holding his hand
The way Emma is soothed by touching my face
A big oven
Babies that love to read and dance to music
Food delivery to my door
Cute cloth diapers that save us tons of money
Soft baby skin
Regular quiet times that I can stay awake for finally since I am not so sleep deprived. :)
Emma sleeping through the night
Cool breezes every now and again
The kiddie pool at school
Cheesy brats from the more American grocery store
Homemade ice cream, particularly the favors that are hard to find here
Books that feed me and help me grow spiritually, as well as challenge my walk.
People buying my handmade cards/placing orders
There is so much for which to be grateful...so many more things than what has irritated me these past couple of days. So I cling to these precious gifts and the joy of the gospel and everything else grows strangely dim...because that's how you fight for joy.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
At our condo complex, there is a little playground. Miss Ning frequents it with the kids, particularly Emma when she wakes up earlier than Owen from a nap. This morning, Owen kept standing by the he door and hollering to go out. (I think he just wanted to push the elevator buttons).So all four of us walked down to the playground, stopping to see the kitty on the way...
Emma is really into exploring the limits of her body. She loves moving, grooving, kicking, dancing, and climbing. She climbed up to the top of the slide without any help; Miss Ning just spotted her in case she slipped, but she didn't. I think she may be part billy goat.