Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vacation Week.

We've been on a break from school for the past week and I for one am enjoying myself just being at home here in Chiang Mai.  Originally we were planning to drive or fly to southern Thailand for the week, but now I'm really glad that didn't work out since I've been dealing with more tiredness and very puffy feet/ankles. I'm definitely in the home stretch of this pregnancy!!

Since we were staying put during Songkran (Thai New Year), we decided on a couple of local things to do, but nothing too overwhelming for us... and Paul! But first, my one and only pregnancy picture:


Nat quick snapped it while Paul was napping and before we left for church Sunday afternoon. So it's fairly recent. :-) Supposedly I have four more weeks to go... but since I went late with Paul, I'm planning on the same with Nutmeg.

As I mentioned, this week was Thai New Year. For four days a big water festival takes place and the chances of you and/or your vehicle getting wet are great! What perfect timing though - the days are nice and hot so water feels refreshing.


See the super-soaker in the picture above? Lots of people carried those things around and even more people had a barrel of water in their trucks... like the one in the picture above. 


It was fun to watch people on the street soak people riding in the back of pickup trucks and vice versa, but I could also see accidents happening very quickly. The last report I heard, over 100 people had died during the first two days of Songkran... such a tragedy.

Since the days have been so hot, we opted to go to some malls nearby and walk around in the air conditioning. One mall we stopped at had a really fun kiddy land set up. For $1.50, Paul was able to play in there for an hour and had a blast!!


A little blurry, but balls were everywhere!


Unfortunately big and little kids played in the same area with no official supervision, so Paul did get bumped around a bit by big kids running so fast and not seeing him. Good thing he's resilient! In the picture above, he's sitting on stairs that go to a slide (the yellow on the right) which went down to a huge ball pit. He had such a fun time playing in there and as a parent I had such a fun time watching him have fun. The more I go along on this parenting journey, the more I see a picture of my Heavenly Father and how He wants to give me good things and yet at times MUST correct me when I've been disobedient.


We also decided to go to a nearby waterfall for a picnic and some splashing in the water. We had gone to this waterfall a month ago with our school and enjoyed ourselves, so we left on Monday morning for some water fun. We weren't thinking "holiday" (just imagine Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend crowds), so when we got to the waterfall, we were surprised at how many people were there and even having the police direct traffic. As only the Lord could do, we got front row parking directly in front of the entrance - fantastic! Since it was only 10 AM, we decided to go down to the waterfall (down, down, down!) and then have our picnic. Such a good idea. We (mostly Nat and Paul - I found a log and sat there) were able to walk up and down the waterfall with a minimal amount of people around. When we went back to the top, the crowd had doubled. We spread out our mat under a shade tree and enjoyed our sandwiches, fruit, veggies, and chocolate cupcakes --- definitely NOT what the Thai people were eating!

After lunch, Nat took Paul back to the waterfall while I stayed on the mat. Thankfully I grabbed a hand fan from the truck because it was warm!!! As I sat there people-watching, I noticed a group to my left standing around. Five kids, one mom, and two grandparents with nothing to sit on. I tried not to feel to comfortable on my plastic mat all the while thinking about offering them a place to sit down. Soon the dad arrived with a mat and they promptly sat down; well the kids did. The poor grandma just wasn't fast enough! But she had spunk... and obviously has been sitting on the ground her entire life. She slowly got down, making sure to take her flip flops off first, and managed to squeeze onto the mat. Grandpa wasn't far behind and I stared in amazement because this is so normal for them. No cushions, no comfortable plush chair - just a plastic mat that was being shared with six other people. 

Oh, what were they eating? Of course Mom had a container of rice - the main staple. Dad went over to some vendors and came back with four or five bags of pork on a stick. At one point I'm pretty sure I saw one of the boys enjoying a long piece of grilled chicken skin. I missed out on the rest of the meal because Nat came back with Paul at that point and soon the tables were turned and THEY were watching us! Specifically Paul of course. One time he started to trip on the mat and I heard several gasps come from my left side. I just sat there knowing he would get his feet back under him. :-) 

All in all we've had such a fun family week. Today we were going to go swimming, but when we got there the sign said closed. :/ Since we had our swim stuff on, we decided to go back home and play with water there! Paul got a huge kick out of us spraying the hose around and getting the whole family wet. It was great!

Thursday is our last day of "vacation" and I'm sure it will be full of adventures! We were going to go to the zoo, but my feet are way too swollen to do a lot of walking so I think we'll skip the zoo this time and do something else instead. :-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Quick Catch-up Post.

I'm afraid the days of Paul being a "baby" are over. Yes, he's 18 months. Yes, he just started walking in February. Yes, we're still teaching him things like eating what's on his tray. But when it comes to protecting him from bumps, bruises, and scratches, now we're talking about a five year old - at least! 

I've done lots of babysitting in the past, and I don't think I've ever seen a kid so accident-prone. Uncle Tom, he's taking after YOU!! For instance, tonight we decided to have a family night since the rest of the week is insanely busy. We settled on watching a Road To Avonlea 45- minute movie. During that time, Paul ran into the edge of the bed no less than three times and that third time finally got to him. He is now sporting a shiner on his cheek, poor kid. The worst part was we were right there and I even watched him do it (slow motion of course), but couldn't intervene in time because my ankle was propped up. Oh the tears did flow...

In other fun news from last week (I'm so punctual!), the precious ladies from my home church gave me a Skype baby shower complete with decorations, unwrapped gifts, and muffins. My husband rose to the occasion and made sure to make muffins so I could enjoy some while the ladies had theirs. I think I ate two bites in between personally chatting with many of the ladies who took a few moments at the computer to visit. It was a fantastic time and instantly transported me back to PA. Thailand is home now and yet so is Pennsylvania, especially when visiting with dear friends I haven't seen in a while!

Today we wimped out and decide to turn the air conditioner on in the afternoon. Unlike in PA where the hottest time of the day is around noon, here it's between 3-4 PM. After school we stopped by the market to pick up produce, but we took turns sitting in the car with Paul, who was sleeping. Our poor AC did it's very best, but sitting in direct sunlight at 99* was just too hot. So when we came home, I made a beeline for the AC switch and turned it on. After and hour or so, things cooled down to where we could get by with a fan. We have been running the AC a little bit at night, but have it on a timer so it clicks off soon after we go to bed. I'm actually impressed that we haven't run the AC as much as I thought we would've by now, but I think my memory is bringing to mind living in Bangkok (8 hours south) and how we ran it practically year-round. So we've been enjoying and taking advantage of the cooler mornings. It sure makes up for the hotter afternoons!

Next week we're taking a break from school since it's the Thai New Year. Is it wrong to say I'm looking forward to that break? :-) My brain feels like it's on Thai language overload sometimes, so it will be good to put a pause on the intake of information and just try to process what's in there! We're almost finished with the Thai conversation module, and the next module is reading and writing. Baby Nutmeg is due to make her appearance sometime in May, so I'm interested to see how going to school and having a newborn are going to jive. Of course family is first priority, so if it doesn't work out to go to school, then we'll explore another option. But for now my plan is to continue with school.

So there you have it! A quick catch-up with what's going on in our little corner of the world. :-)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Glimpse

A glimpse into my day (so far)...


- Three kilos of fresh tomatoes turned into sauce.


- A cheesecake... just because!


- An active little guy who is currently playing with a wooden spoon. Simple pleasures.


- Today is not a school day, but there is always studying that needs to be done.

Not pictured:

- 6:00 AM wake-up 
- Pancakes for breakfast 
- Naptime for Paul... and for me!

Nat's at an physical therapy appointment right now and has plans to take Paul later for Paul's first real haircut at a barber. Paul's had a haircut every month of his life except this last month and it's starting to show. :-) We'll see how that goes for Mr. Squirmy!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunday.

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."  What better day to start with than Sunday?!?!

The alarm went off early, followed by the real alarm in the form of our 18-month-old son. :-) These days he's been waking up earlier and earlier and we're finally catching on to that little fact (and saying a sad good-bye to 8 AM as a normal wake up time for him!). Snuggling with Paul is a morning routine, one that I thoroughly enjoy! Soon showers and quiet time are finished, making way for breakfast. Paul's little gecko friend is still hanging out on the wall, and that brings about some shrieks of joy... followed by a frantic look for the usual banana to chew on. I make some crepes and soon we're all enjoying breakfast.

Since the church we attend doesn't have services until 5 PM, we have a Bible study time with some missionary friends of ours. Of course that time includes lunch, so right after breakfast cleanup I start in on lunch. This time the menu is taco salad with fresh watermelon on the side. I finish lunch preparations just in time to settle Paul down for his nap. Nat heads out to pick up at the market some cilantro for me and then picks up our friends for the study. Unfortunately, Paul wasn't so willing to settle down for a nap and is still crying by the time Nat returns. We start our Bible study off without singing this time. Paul soon drifts off to sleep and we enjoy a study in Colossians 2. Right on cue after the study, Paul wakes up... just in time for lunch! We enjoy a sweet time of fellowship with our friends since they are returning to the States this week on furlough.

Nat heads out the door again to return our friends to their house and then he continues on to a meeting with a man he met last week while passing out tracts. Paul and I stay home and attempt to clean up. The following pictures should give you a good idea as to why I used the word "attempt." :-)





The last one is blurry, but it show Paul doing what he now loves to do: walk! Oh and climb on everything. :-)

Once Nat returns to the house, we have minutes to get ready for the church service. Since we live 30 minutes away, the drive to church gives Paul a good opportunity to take a nap and get recharged for more activity. :-)

The service is all in Thai, with the occasional English translation thrown in for good measure. Friends of ours gave us a copy of some hymns in Thai written out phonetically, and we do our best to sing in Thai. I stumble over the words of one hymn because it seems like there are more Thai words than usual. One day at a time, I remind myself. The pastor starts to preach and I'm armed with ways to keep Paul quiet: a bottle of milk and a croissant. Effective, but 3/4 of the way through and Paul is ready to run around again. I take him to the back of the room and stand with him. 

Soon the service is over and we catch up with a dear friend who just moved to our city after being in the States on furlough for the past year. We move on to the next room where a yummy Thai meal is served, all the while chatting with various people. As we prepare to return home, the pastor asks if we would take a lady home who doesn't live too far from us. She just moved to the area and we are more than happy to help. Nat's Thai saves the day in being able to communicate with her, although she did know a few English phrases.

We return home with a very tired little boy who goes straight to bath time. After Paul's bedtime routine of reading, singing, and praying we settle him down for the night. Nat and I are exhausted, but spend some time together reading through a book and talking. Prayer time for us rounds out the night and we are soon asleep... ready to start off another week, but thankful for a day of rest.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy!

We've had an exceptionally busy week and I'm not sure why. :-) In addition to our usual three days of school and studying, we taught English at a local primary school, Nat spent a day passing out tracts with a visitor from the states, and we had a couple of other things come up. One of these times I'm going to do a post about a typical (or not so typical!) day in the life of the Williams family. :-)

We've also enjoyed an unusual number of phone calls from the States too. Communication is very important and so I was pleasantly surprised to hear my phone ring a few times. One of the calls came in at noon as we were getting lunch ready. Here a very dear friend couldn't sleep and decided to give a call... Two hours later we hung up and I really hope her work day wasn't too tiring!

We've also been able to stream the services from our church, as this week is our missions conference. How we long to be there... but streaming is the next best option!

Now we're doing a quick market run after school and then we're staying home for the evening. Language school days always feel like we're running in a marathon, so a quiet evening looks absolutely delightful. God had been good to us and we have many things to praise Him for. 

Happy Friday!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dinner...


... Is going to be good! 


Ka-bobs and potatoes grilled over the fire. Yummy benefit to living in this temperate climate. :-)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Christian Funeral.

Today was a first for us - attending a funeral here in Thailand. I've actually been to two when I lived here before, one Christian and one Buddhist, but time has dimmed my memory so I was curious as to what a funeral would be like.

This funeral was for the mother-in-law of the pastor of the church we attend here, so we never actually met her. Our day started off bright and early for the 1.5 hour ride to Lamphang. We stopped by church and picked up a few people and headed down the road. 

I was beginning to see the humor in the situation after we made our third u-turn because we realized the man who was supposed to tell us where to go didn't actually know... where to go. :-) A few quick phone calls and we got to the right place with minutes to spare.

It was a combination funeral/church service since this lady was saved. During the slide show of pictures they played the song, "Amazing Grace" and the thought brought tears to my eyes. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. This lady is experiencing the fullness of that amazing grace!


I'm glad we're just entering hot season and that the service was at 10:00 in the morning. I'm thankful for the fans they had blowing to circulate the air!


Pastor Srithone preaching his mother-in-law's funeral service.

After the service, they served a delicious Thai lunch. The fried rice came out first and from there the dishes got hotter! I tried some of the fish with chilies, but that's about as far as I went. :-) 

I wish I had taken a picture of the truck on which they put the casket. I had never seen a funeral procession before (or a cemetery for that matter) here in Thailand, so it was intriguing to watch the men load the casket onto a flat-bed of a truck and put all the flowers on there too. It looked to me like 8-10 people rode along in the bed and away the procession went. The police directed traffic and then hopped on their motorcycles to get ahead of the procession to the next intersection.


The service at the graveside.


Praise the Lord for the hope of eternity and heaven! There were tears at the funeral and I'm sure more so in private, but when you say good-bye to a Christian you know you will see them again and that is a wonderful thought.  

Today wasn't our typical Sunday by any stretch of the imagination, but was still an opportunity to praise the Lord. My big praise for the ride home is that Paul fell asleep for a good hour, rather than "serenade" us the whole way home! Sleep is good. :-)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Updated Kitchen.

We had our new kitchen counter installed last week! My husband blogged about it, but I decided it was time to put some pictures on my blog too. :-)

When the men were installing the cabinets and counter, they ran into a problem. Apparently the men who came out to measure a month ago to make sure everything would fit measured incorrectly. So the installers had two of the cabinets hung when they realized the third wouldn't fit because our kitchen ceiling slopes. Oops. So I suggested they put the third cabinet on the opposite wall and it worked out just fine!


I am very pleased with how it all turned out and it was definitely worth the wait! After the sink was installed, I cautiously used it because I was so used to doing the bucket system that it didn't seem right to have water come out of the tap and go directly down the drain. Fun stuff!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Things I Love...

For dinner I made stuffed peppers but needed some cooked rice. Nat quick went to the market across the street and got a bag for about thirty cents. What a blessing to be able to skip a step and use a "shortcut."

That got me thinking about all the things I love about living in Thailand. No it's not America but if I think about all the things I miss in America, then I'll develop an attitude of disappointment and sadness. So here are a few things I love about Thailand.

1. A fresh market right across the street. We buy all of our produce there and just bought some meat there for the first time!

2. I feel this needs to be mentioned separately: I really, really enjoy the variety of fruits and vegetables available. Our weekly staples include pineapple, watermelon, pummelo (like grapefruit), mangoes, bananas, papaya, lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, garlic, onion, tomatoes, and a few other items. Best of all, all of that is around $10.00!

3. At the market, we've been very loyal to one vendor who sells us tomatoes. I make my own sauce so that means a lot of tomatoes! Monday the vendor gave us a discount since we bought so much and the ones we were buying didn't have the prettiest skin. That doesn't bother me since I take the skins off anyway. So we paid $1.08 for three pounds of tomatoes.

4. When it comes time to pay our water or electric bill, we take the bill (that was left in the bill holder by our mailbox) and go to 7-Eleven and pay it. Simple!

5. My washer is on the porch outside so I simply wheel the laundry rack over, hang the clothing up, and push the rack to the front of our porch so the clothing can dry in the sun.

6. Our mubaan (neighborhood) has two Thai restaurants, and we've used the one many times. For the two of us to eat at the restaurant costs us about $2.00. 

7. I am not a coffee drinker at all, but I commented to Nat tonight I've had more iced lattes in the last three months than I have in my life. :-) Coffee shops are everywhere and they offer more than just coffee. The best part is many of the drinks would run around $4-5.00 in the States, but here they cost $1.50-1.75. The other thing I like is if your drink is take away, they will put it in a bag that you can carry which is very convenient. Anytime you buy something here, it goes in a bag. That's probably because for many people their main method of transportation is motorcycle so you just slip the bags on the handles and you're good to go!

8. A store called Yok has just about become my favorite store. You can get all sorts of baking stuff there (some of it expensive), but we like it because they sell blocks of cheese, cream cheese, and butter for a reasonable price. We made a cheesecake the other week and figured out that the cost to make the cheesecake was about $10.00. Now that we have a bigger freezer, we can freeze things like butter or cheese and we now have the option of buying in bulk and not paying $4.00 for an 8 oz block of cream cheese.

9. When we stop for diesel, we get one water bottle for every $9.00 we spend. The station we stop at has the same exact price as everywhere else, so it's nice to have something "extra" thrown in. They also pump the diesel and wash the windshield too... What service!

10. At a ladies' meeting in September, the ladies in my church gave me some money for pedicures over here. I finally went two weeks ago and I'm sure I went to an "expensive" place because I didn't know where else to go. Including a tip, it cost me $7.75. I'll have to hunt around to find the cheaper place but it sure was a nice treat... and it made me grateful for those generous ladies back home!

11. Nat's been having some muscle problems in his leg and someone suggested him going to a physical therapist across the street. For a 45 minute appointment, he paid $10.00 and it's been helping him.

12. My last doctor's appointment included an ultrasound (done by the doctor herself) and the total cost of my appointment was $21.50. My first appointment included an ultrasound and bloodwork so that one was $31.00. 

13. Beef is very expensive here. We eat chicken and pork, so when we get the craving for beef, we'll go to an American restaurant and order a cheeseburger with fries and a pickle for $4.00. I usually cut it in half and have the rest for lunch the next day. That burger is also cheaper than Burger King, where the burger alone is about $5.00.

14. Our shower hot water heater needed to be replaced, so we bought a new one and the man came to install. After installing it, he realized we needed to have a different breaker put in so the next day he returned and installed another breaker... at no extra charge, minus the cost for the part. 15 minutes and everything was installed!

15. Remember the three refrigerators we had in our kitchen? After talking with the landlord and explaining the door was broken on the freezer of the one, he gave us permission to get rid of it. The neighbors down the street got their two boys to move it out and they set it on the corner of our street. The next day it was gone. :-) Problem solved!

16. Every week after the church service, we enjoy a meal cooked by one of the members. We all sit down, eat and fellowship. Such a precious time!

17. The highway is literally outside of our mubaan. What a blessing when the traffic is congested to be able to "turn left on red" and not have to wait forever at the looong light!

That's good for now! I want to appreciate the things the Lord allows us to enjoy, and yet be ever mindful that we have a far greater task at hand. All of these perks are just extra. :-)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kitchen cleanup.

I briefly mentioned in my last post about a situation that came up that became an exercise of patience. Ever since we moved into our house, we have had a cockroach problem. Gross, right? Some days we would have 7-8 sprawled out on our kitchen floor which was always what we wanted to see first thing each morning!

While my niece was here, we spent a good chunk of time cleaning the house and throwing away things that previous occupants left behind. We also discovered what roach eggs look like. Google that if you are really curious. In a word, disgusting. We knew the roaches were hiding out in the lone cabinet/counter/sink and went looking for a replacement piece.

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say we finally found something we liked (landlord included), and found out from the store when the new one was going to be delivered. So 2.5 weeks ago, Nat went about the demolition of our old cabinet, knowing there would be roaches to contend with.



What we didn't know was that the actual nest was in the floor of the cabinet and pulling it apart meant roaches went scattering. Nat spent a good chunk of the day getting rid of the roaches and when he pulled the counter away from the wall, there was a whole pile of them in one corner. 

Umm, ick.

With the help of a friend, they moved the counter and cabinet out and only two baby roaches managed to drop out of it on the way to the door. :-) We took care of them, of course! We knew the cabinet was going to be delivered on Monday morning, so we dealt with the lack of sink for two days thankfully anticipating our new one to be installed - minus the roaches.

Monday morning two men showed up, measured the space, and said they would return after buying a few supplies... or so we thought. Here it turned out they were just measuring to make sure the new one would fit. After a phone call to the store clarifying that up, they said come on down and pay and then we'll install. Okie dok. Tuesday we go pay and ask when the cabinet will be delivered. At first they told us "next day" but we said that wouldn't work with our school schedule. When we asked about Thursday as another option, we were met with blank stares. With our limited Thai and their limited English, we went round and round until the man nervously chuckled and said, "oh! Not next day. Next month!!" 

Huh?!?

We finally figured out that things indeed were lost in translation. Two little words were never mentioned when we were first at the store: special order. That cleared up a lot of the miscommunication. In the meantime, we were looking at being without a sink, counter, and cabinet for 3.5 weeks. 

Thankfully God's grace is truly sufficient. We went out to get a folding table (which we were going to buy eventually) and two buckets to be our temporary fix. It's working just fine. :-)



Oh, do you notice the grey fridge in the above picture? We now have three fridges in our kitchen!


The Lord provided us with an amazing deal to purchase our own fridge (2014 model!), rather than the two we were using. One came with the house since it was fully furnished, and then one came from the neighbor down the street who lent it to the people who were here before us. Both have issues and weren't big enough or efficient enough. So we have an abnormal kitchen: no sink and three fridges! Wanna come visit?!? :-)

Hopefully we can sort out the extra fridge situation soon and return it to the neighbor down the street or have it go somewhere else. We'll obviously have to move the small grey fridge before the new counter and cabinet comes because that's where they are going. :-)

So am I glad to be without a sink and counter for 3.5 weeks? Not necessarily... until I think about those roaches, and then I'm really glad they are gone! If we have to deal with an inconvenience for a few weeks, it's worth it to be roach-free! 

I AM looking forward to next week though... :-)