Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Up To Date!
Well, I think this (long) post should bring you current (as of Monday, August 8th) with all of our happenings. Yay me!
Kevin had a business trip to Japan last week and returned home very early Saturday morning. While he was gone, we met more families in Nichada and I feel like we have gotten a good little network of friends & acquaintances going. I am starting to recognize people when we are at the school, the pool or the grocery store. I also feel much more confident interacting with Thais in the grocery store, taxis and restaurants. The language barrier is significant but hand motions help a lot. I have yet to walk away because I can't communicate what I want or need. It seems that many Thais can write some words in English so, after a few back and forths on a piece of scrap paper, voila! We understand each other!
The support system here for US Government employees, as it was in Australia, is amazing! Each family is assigned to a social sponsor and to a work sponsor. The sponsors help with your transition to the country/neighborhood/school and to the office. Both of these people are very essential to successfully establishing your family here. In my opinion, the more you interact with your sponsors, the easier and faster you settle in. Our social sponsor is just the kind of person you want to be assigned to. She has three children - one each in high school, middle school and elementary school. Their family lived here six years ago and returned about a year ago after living in Moldova and Warsaw. She is very outgoing and knows a lot of people in the neighborhood & school. She has given me the rundown on the best shops, restaurants, and salons. I am eager for the kids to begin school so I can experience for myself (and by myself!). Kevin's work sponsor is his deputy and he has been very helpful introducing Kevin to the office and around the Embassy. He likes to golf and he and Kevin have been to the driving range and have plans to play a round this Friday.
Sunday morning, we attended Mass at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. I must remember to take a photo to post the next time we go as it was such a unique building. The church is built to look like a wat (Buddhist temple) and is open to the air on three sides. There were a lot of fans on but it was still very warm. Even though the Mass we attended was to be in English, I was concerned about being able to understand the priests. Fear not, their English was excellent, in fact, even better than some of the priests we had in Miami. The music was absolutely amazing. One of the churches that we attended in Miami, St. Louis, is well known for its great music and singing but I must say that Holy Redeemer's music and singing were even better. The songs were traditional and we were familiar with most but the music was a little more folksy and upbeat. Everyone sang & clapped and every so often, the lead singer would shout out, "Sing it one more time!" or "All together now, sing with me!" Certainly not what I expected during a Catholic Mass but it was very nice and uplifting. After Mass we walked to have lunch at Neil's Tavern which is, apparently, a Bangkok institution and reminded Kevin and I of Old Ebbitt Grill in DC. Probably not someplace we would go again as, according to the kids (and they got this from their Uncle Jim), it was a little too hoity-toity for us.
The kids also got cellphones over the weekend and, now, everyone has a cellphone except ME! Not sure how that happened and I am wondering for how long I can get away with it. Since the kids will be walking/biking a mile to school and will be involved in sports and other after school activities, we thought it best to get each of them a cellphone so they can check in with us and we can track them down. Since the saleswoman helping us spoke very little English (and we speak no Thai), I can only hope for the best as far as the phones and plans that we selected.
Yesterday, we had to go through the formal admissions process at ISB so the kids can start school next week. Although we had gone on a tour of the school last week and purchased uniforms and pre-packaged school supplies, the kids had to meet with their counselors and be placed into their chosen electives. We also had photos taken for our id cards (parents get them too!). If you forget or lose your card, it is a BIG deal as the card is used to open your locker, to check out books from the library, to buy lunch and snacks in the cafeteria (more on that later), to check out equipment from the athletic dept. and to buy from the bookstore & the booster club stall. Very cool.