Monday, January 26, 2015

Family Day.

I think it's safe to say we are finally adjusted to Thailand time again! What a blessing the long airplane ride and jet lag are both behind us, hopefully for a good while! God definitely gives grace for those trying times and it's so good to be home.

We've enjoyed "setting up shop" again and jumping back into life in the tropics. Before the return of language study, we decided to take a family day and headed for the great outdoors! There's a gorgeous lake about 15 minutes away, so we wandered over there on Friday and enjoyed biking, walking, and eating lunch by the lake.

{a clear, cool day at the lake with a mountain backdrop}

{love these two blessings}

{my blue-eyed girl}

{Paul is happy to run barefoot again}

{flowers in our neighborhood showcase God's creativity}

Since we are still in cool season, I've taken Paul on plenty of bike rides. There's something exhilarating about feeling the wind hit my face and from the little giggles coming from behind me, I'm pretty sure Paul is enjoying it too! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thoughtful Thanks.

I decided in 2014 to be more intentional in praising God and even came up with a tag for my blog called "purposeful praise." Last year really stretched me in my praise to the Lord, so I decided on another personal theme for this year: thankfulness. Now I'll be the first to admit that there are many blessings in my life, but I need to pause and ask if I'm actually having an attitude of thankfulness, especially in the midst of a situation.

For instance, this morning Nat and I were watching our church's Wednesday evening service and as I was trying to take notes Paul was wriggling in my lap and kicking the table. Not exactly an ideal circumstance to be still before the Lord and let the preaching minister to my heart. To my shame I let out a sigh of frustration and even said, "Paul, why must you do that?" But then the still small voice reminded me to stop and be kind to my son. I put the pen down and pulled my little boy closer, quickly reminded how glad I am for such an active little guy!

So that's my goal for this year - to have an attitude of thankfulness, and hopefully IN the situation instead of AFTER the fact. :-)

To start things off... I'm extremely thankful for these three human beings; my entire, little world and I wouldn't trade any of them for anything!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Precious Memories.

In November we headed to the States for the purpose of spending time with people and I would say we accomplished the job! In fact, I wish we took more photos with people, but we didn't always think about it. So here's a quick recap of just some of the things we did during our 8-week trip.

We landed in NYC on a Thursday and five days later we were driving the 700 miles to my brother and his family in Kentucky. A quick two-day stay with them rounded out the Thanksgiving holiday, and I'm so glad we made the effort to go. The return drive of 15 hours seemed like it would never end. :-)

My niece, nephews, and sister-in-law with my baby girl.

We did experience a few warmer winter days and Paul enjoyed getting outside to play with some balls and our pastor's children. But most of the days were too cold to play outside.

Some of my family got together the Saturday after Thanksgiving to go to a nearby Christmas village. What fun and what a good memory as we shivered together. :-)

Yes, it did snow while we were in Pennsylvania! I'm glad Nat thought to get some snow pictures, because most likely it will be several years before we see snow again.

We took a trip up to New York to spend some time with Nat's extended family. On the way we stopped at a grocery store that had the perfect cart for Paul. He loved pushing it around and stocking up on an essential: Cheerios! By the way, the one time I found a box of Cheerios in Thailand it was $12.00, so we won't be eating Cheerios anytime soon. :-)

While in New York, we stayed with Nat's aunt. She had a neat toy car collection that Paul loved to play with.

Of course Paul got to go sledding at Great-Grandma's farm! He absolutely loved it. 

Our main reason for returning to the States was for Nat's sister's wedding, which was just before Christmas. 

We also updated our family picture to reflect our newest little family member. It only took us 7 months for a new mug shot. :-) We took this after the wedding, so both kids were beyond tired, having missed their naps. Paul was quickly won over with cranberry bread keeping him smiling, but Ellie would not smile for anything. Oh well.

The week of Christmas found us in the Poconos with Nat's family. We got a vacation rental house and enjoyed lots of family time. Paul loved getting to know his grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

We also spent some time with my sister and her family at Valley Forge National Historical Park. What started out as a quick walk turned into a 4-mile hike. After that brisk walk, the kids slept soundly!

Paul with my sister and nephew.

Some friends of mine and I intended to slip away for a 2-day ladies retreat in December, but the house we had found forgot we were coming and shut the water off for the winter. I was definitely disappointed, but last Friday night we enjoyed a fun evening together as couples, so it all worked out in the end.

 We packed things up and headed for JFK Airport this past Wednesday. Good friends of ours were very gracious in waking up early and driving us to the airport for our noon flight. Thanks Ben and Alyssa!

Our layover in South Korea was a lot shorter than we remembered, so Paul didn't get to play on the playground this time around. Instead Paul got to watch the plane being loaded!

So there you have it! There were so many things that happened while we were home, but I can't recount them all. I'm just glad for the opportunity to be back in PA... And now I'm glad to be home in Thailand!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

As far behind as I am on bringing this blog up to speed, I won't even try! Suffice it to say we've been in the States since Thanksgiving and return to Thailand in three weeks. 

We've crammed a lot into the last month including a trip to Kentucky, a family wedding, and 10 days of sickness. Of course!

So with all that said, Merry Christmas!! We're staying at a vacation home with my husband's family and we're really enjoying ourselves. It's been a great way to spend Christmas week. 

Blessings to you as we celebrate Christ's birth!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What A Difference!

So this is the current temperature here in Thailand:

And this is the current temperature in Pennsylvania:

As of Thursday, we plan on being in Emmaus. Yikes.

We're going to need to bring a jacket or two and leave the flip flops behind!

Prayers appreciated as we head out on our trip on Wednesday. Paul loves to see airplanes flying in the sky; let's hope his enthusiasm level stays up when he realizes he's IN one!

Adventure is our middle name. :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

In No Particular Order....

* I really felt like shopping Thursday night and so we caved and went shopping! Actually we had a delicious Italian meal first at an adorable restaurant nearby. Not only was the food incredible, they actually had *drumroll please* FULL-sized napkins:

Let me tell you, this is rare here! Usually the napkins are more along the lines of a piece of toilet paper, both in length and quality. :-) 
After dinner we went to the mall to browse. Now I'll admit up front that I am not a mall person at all, but if I want to find anything remotely my size clothing-wise, we must go to the mall. Which leads me to another random thought: the two articles of clothing I've bought here in Thailand are size L and XL. As in large and extra large. How's that for deflating my ego? :-) But back to shopping. As we walked past a clothing store called A ll Z, I saw some hoodies on sale and found one I actually liked! It was so nice to actually browse a store and even find something. 

* Going out to dinner and to the mall on a Thursday night is a really smart idea. Not as much traffic as on a Friday or Saturday night. The only downside is Nat is usually teaching on Thursday nights (this past Thursday was a holiday).

* It's amazing how cool 75 degrees feels. I'm ready to use that hoodie I bought!

* The power went out tonight two minutes before the meatloaf was done cooking. Dinner was delicious.

* As I was cooking potatoes, two bugs came to the surface. Yum? At least I could scoop them out before I made mashed potatoes. :-)

* We're currently dog-sitting and it has been very entertaining. Paul loves to play with the dog and I love to hear Paul's little giggles!

* Ellie loves to roll over on her belly but sometimes gets frustrated with the squeaky toy on her play mat.

* Apparently socks are amazing. I'm starting to pull things out for our trip to the States and I found some socks for Paul. When I put the first pair on him, he danced around the room for a few minutes shrieking with joy over the socks. Oh my. Isn't that how everyone acts in the morning when they put socks on? I guess it's been too long since the last time he wore socks.

* I can't believe November 6th will mark one year of us living in Chiang Mai.

* The first restaurant I want to go to in the States is Chick-fil-A. Seriously. Olive Garden is a close second. I can almost taste it... mmm, mmm!

* My little baby smells so good after her bath. She's also very ticklish.:-)

* I am one blessed lady!

How's that for being random?!?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Then And Now.

We had a great time on Monday, in the midst of ordinary life, taking a trip down memory lane. Monday marked our 5-year engagement anniversary and as we drove to school, we talked about that fun and life-changing day. Wow, five years is a long time and a lot has happened since that beautiful fall day.

Going on a date is a luxury for us since our babysitting options are severely limited, so as we were driving past 5th Avenue -- a new set of shops outside of our neighborhood -- we commented on how we wanted to try a new cafe/bakery shop called "Now and Then" located in 5th Avenue. We were actually past it before we thought seriously about stopping, but soon we were spontaneously deciding to visit the cafe.

One thing I should mention about the road system here is that we need to take u-turns for everything. Because we were past the cafe before we decided to go, we would've had to go all the way down the road to the traffic light, take the u-turn to go the opposite direction, travel to the next u-turn and take that turn and then turn into 5th Avenue. We were just about ready to do that very thing when we saw the traffic outside of our neighborhood completely backed up. We were within walking distance of the cafe, so we got the kids out of the car and walked that way.

All day Sunday and Monday, we saw police officers standing on the road every hundred feet or so. They seemed like they were waiting for some special convoy to come through, but it looked funny to us because most of the officers were on their phones while they waited and we're talking hours of waiting. Well as we walked to the cafe and stared at the traffic, we finally realized that the two days of police officers waiting was coming to an end at the same time, because there was a major traffic jam!

The special convoy came through and traffic was "paused" in all directions to give deference to the convoy (one man at the market told me it was the King of Thailand). We continued on foot, very grateful we weren't on the road!

The cafe was quiet, new, and very date-like. :-) We had the two cutest little chaperones with us and I even got to split a raspberry smoothie with one of them. By the way, if you come visit us, I will take you to get a raspberry smoothie --- it was that good! Nat enjoyed a latte and we each tried a dessert. Paul was enjoying the results of our spontaneity: first a bite of Nat's chocolate cake and then a lick of my blueberry cheesecake. That kid has a rough life!

Since we ate our dessert first (perk of being an adult!), we decided to make up a simple meal of tacos and took it a step further by eating outside. The evening was so nice and cool (why yes 80 degrees is cool!) and bonus was not having to clean the floor after Paul finished eating. :-)

All in all it was such a lovely day. I'm so grateful for the way God put Nat and I together. It has been such an adventurous journey and I wouldn't wish it any other way!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Choosing Gratefulness.

It's been quite the week around here, but I think anyone with little kiddos can tell you that! But you know what? God is so good and we're grateful we're finishing the week much better than we started. 

I put Ellie on her play mat this morning and within five minutes she had rolled over and fell asleep!

I unknowingly dressed Paul to match his daddy today so of course I needed to take their picture together!

Happy Friday. :-)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Living In Thailand. For Real!

Not being in a country where the change in the colors of the leaves signal a season switch, I'm a bit baffled that it's October already. Our weather has been warm with a blistering sun thrown in for good measure, so it definitely doesn't "feel" like fall around here! I'm grateful to see glimpses of a Pennsylvania fall courtesy of Facebook (PA friends - please post more!), but this does mess with my mind not pulling out hoodies and feeling the crispy fall air! In fact, the air con is currently on in my son's room as he naps and I've shut all the windows and curtains in hopes of keeping it cool on the inside. All you warm weather-loving people -- wanna come visit?!

So in the spirit of keeping things real about living in Thailand, I give you this:

That, my dear readers, is our truck. 

With someone else's bumper attached to it.


Without describing in detail the intersection and traffic, I will say this was a very humbling lesson for me. I tend to be a risk-taker when driving (ouch, that hurt just seeing it written out!), and while what I did we've seen tons of people do (turning a third lane into a turning lane instead of a straight only lane),  it was a reality check that beating the system just isn't worth it. 

At this point, you may be wondering how that guy's bumper got on my bumper. As I turned, he moved from his lane to his left, trying to get around the car in front of him. Unfortunately, I couldn't get out of his way, but I was just enough ahead of him that the back of my truck met the front of his car and ripped the whole bumper right off. Let me tell you, it sounded terrible! I had never been in an accident before while driving, so I really expected the back end to be messed up, based upon the sound.

You know that statistic that says most accidents happen within a 5-mile radius of your home? That's exactly what happened in this instance. I had taken Paul with me to the grocery store to stock up on some fun food since it was the end of the month and we had extra in the grocery budget. So I had a big block of cheddar cheese, frozen strawberries, milk, and chocolate chips in a cooler bag just waiting to be tucked safely into the fridge. When the accident first took place, all I could think of was that block of cheese! :-)

But reality set in so I called Nat (who was studying at home while Ellie took her nap). Dealing with an insurance company in Thai wasn't exactly my idea of "hey! What a great opportunity to practice Thai!" when the adrenalin was running high, and yes, I was shaking. Thankfully Paul chose to take his nap at that moment. In the meantime, Ellie had woken up at home and wanted to eat... now. Poor Nat was juggling a screaming baby and trying to deal with the insurance company, plus try to find a way to come to where I was... since I had our only vehicle. 30 minutes later, two insurance adjusters, one neighbor, one husband and one quiet baby showed up on the scene. Since both drivers were at fault and since both vehicles were well-insured, everything was resolved rather quickly. Praise the Lord that was the case because from what we've heard, when a foreigner is involved in an accident here, it's their fault regardless of whether it's really their fault or not. 

Would you like some good news? I am officially done with Thai kindergarten. Yay! I was talking with my sister this morning and told her in my reading class yesterday, I was at the level equivalent to "at, bat, cat..." :-) I am so encouraged that this language is starting to unlock more and more for me! Most of the vowels I can remember, with the exception of two that look so similar to me. My teacher was very encouraging yesterday as I practiced the reading drill by saying my pronunciation was correct and I was reading fast. Without coming across as "pride going before a fall" I need all the encouragement I can get, and I'm really thankful for my teacher.

So I'll leave you with my name written in Thai:

แอน - Anne

And with this: 

Because this little lady is a big 5-month-old!

Sunday, September 28, 2014


I thought I would give you all a small glimpse into what our day to day lives look like, so every now and then I'll do a post on "a day in the life of the Williams family."  So here's Saturday!

Saturday mornings. Ahh, always a thrilling time of the week! This past Saturday we didn't have a single yard sale to attend (which is a blog post in and of itself for another time!), so we had zero plans of waking up early. And to be completely honest with you, I had a terrible time falling sleep Friday night (perhaps from the mid-afternoon cappuccino??) so I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading a book on my phone. *gulp* I haven't done that in a looong time, but the book was a mystery and I couldn't put it down until I finished it. Obviously. :-)

Thankfully, my knight in shining armor got up with Paul at the early hour of 7:20 (that kid has no concept of Saturday mornings yet!), and so I squeezed in a few more winks of sleep. Lately, Ellie has been getting up 2-3 times at night, so I figured sleep while the baby sleeps!

Breakfast morphed into "do your own thing" since I wasn't down in time to make something a little more planned. Last Saturday we had picked up some yummy homemade peach/plum jam from a local restaurant (well worth the $4.50!) and so this week we slathered it on some rye toast... oh so yummy and that became breakfast!

Our cleaning lady comes every other Saturday, so this was the Saturday she was supposed to come. I tell you, she is one of my greatest blessings right now! I really don't have time to clean a two-story house, and for $12.00, she does it all for me. :-) Bonus is she loves our kids and speaks Thai/English so she's an excellent fit for us. She is also a Christian so I'm glad we can help her out too. Khun P usually comes at 9:30 and is finished by 1:30. While she was cleaning, I took Paul to the market to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. I love to go to the market but especially on Saturdays because that's when the mango lady is there selling delicious mangoes -- 4.5 lbs for $2.50! We make fresh fruit smoothies daily and praise the Lord for providing an abundance of fruit.

Paul has become a good helper at the market and loves to pay the vendors. He occasionally carries a bag for me, although one time he carried the peanut bag so "lovingly" that it spilled all over the floor. :-) We're still working on that concept! Another reason I took Paul with me was to give Nat some quiet time at home, especially since Ellie was sleeping.

After Khun P left, nap time took place. We've been surprised that Paul's nap has lengthened because he used to sleep only 45 minutes. Period. Saturday he sleep for 1.5 hours... yay! Ellie and I took the opportunity to nap as well, giving Nat some more quiet time. 

Dinner was homemade chicken parmigiana and it was so yummy! Since coming to Thailand, I have learned to cook from scratch even more than ever before. Many food items here are expensive (such as tomato sauce) so by learning to make my own from fresh tomatoes, we're able to make dishes we enjoy and it's not breaking the bank, so to speak. :-)

I try to take a walk every day, usually after dinner. Once again I took Paul with me and he enjoyed every minute of it. Whenever Paul sees a stray dog coming towards us, he says, "uh-oh" and points at the dog. Our neighborhood probably has 15-20 stray dogs, so I always carry a stick with me as a safety precaution. I've yet to see a dog fight here, but Nat saw one once and it wasn't pretty. The dogs keep my prayer life sharp, and I've had several come charging at me as I walk. Hence the stick!

Bath time soon followed our walk, and I gave Paul his bath since Nat was making tortillas for fajitas for Sunday lunch. Paul loves his bath time, especially since our shower head is detachable. :-) After bath time and his bed time routine, I switched kids and gave Ellie a bath. Meanwhile Nat was still working on the tortillas. We sure enjoyed them today and I appreciate his hard work!

Because of the previous night being a late one for me, I was more than ready to tumble into bed. :-) All in all, it was a nice, quiet family day at home... just the way we like it on Saturdays. Traffic is exceptionally insane on the weekend so if we have to go out at all, we try to go early in the morning. 

Well, time to start another busy week!