Friday, September 28, 2012

Lots of Rain

As a little bit of a follow up to my post earlier this week, yesterday's edition of The Bangkok Post featured this photo that was taken downtown late Wednesday afternoon.
After the storm that caused this flooding cleared out, we had a little break from rain - but not for too long. Strong thunderstorms moved through early Thursday morning and again early this morning, adding 3" to the amount of rainfall that we have received so far this monsoon season. As I am writing this post, the sky is very dark and I can hear a lot of thunder in the distance so I guess we are in for some more rain. 

Christopher's basketball team had a big win on Wednesday with a final score of 63 -17. Although I do love to win, it is so disappointing if the teams are not well matched and the game is not at all competitive. Christopher started and played very well. By the end of the first quarter,  the score was already 20-something to 0 and the difference in skill level was quite obvious, so his coach pulled all of the starters until the fourth quarter. The other team didn't even score until the second half so you can only imagine how painful this game was to watch.

A few random photos...

Our dear PeePorn made this for our dinner the other night after I told her I had a craving for sweet and sour chicken. It was so delicious and so much better than carry out from a restaurant - lots of fresh veggies and pineapple in a very light sauce.
I was able to get to the Babies' Home this week and noticed that my little guy had two front teeth poking through his top gum! Of course, he wouldn't open his mouth or smile so I could get a photo of them. I thought he might be fussy but he was very happy and played for the entire two hours. Usually he sleeps at least 45 minutes before I give him his lunch.

I noticed the flower in the photo below when I was out walking Sonder yesterday. It is an orchid but is actually growing on a vine (which I tried to show in the second photo).
The mom of a friend of Caitlynne's had VIP tickets to the 2012 Thai Tennis Open and Caitlynne & two friends went to watch yesterday afternoon's matches. 

The glamour girls...

Kevin is returning home a week earlier than I expected and will be arriving late next Wednesday night. Yay! I don't know how I confused the dates but was happy to hear he will be home sooner than I thought. Recently, there have been a lot of restrictions on the content of packages sent through the APO or the diplomatic pouch so his suitcase is packed with a lot of little odds and ends (mostly toiletries & cosmetic items as well as RELISH!)  that we can't find here or have shipped.

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm Back! switched to a new format recently and I had the hardest time accessing my account and getting my posts to post! I think I figured it out though so, here goes an attempt at my update...

We are in the middle of week 3 without Kevin and miss him very much! Thank goodness we only have to go through these extended separations for another 10 months because it is really hard for all of us.  

The kids are very busy with school work and league basketball practices and games. It seems they have something going on every day after school and most nights. Last weekend was a four day weekend because of a teacher work day on Thursday and a school holiday on Friday. Most of the kids' friends stayed in Nichada so they were able to meet up with them and socialize. Caitlynne would wake up, eat, shower and then go off with her friends for the day. Most of the time they don't even go out of Nichada  so I don't worry too much about her being out and about. 

Caitlynne's school basketball team is 3-0.  They had a nail biter of a game Monday afternoon and won by one point on a buzzer beater shot. They were very lucky to get the "W" as they really did not play well - bad passes, lots of turnovers and 8/10 missed free throws. 5 of those missed free throws were by Caitlynne so we are going to start calling her Shaq! It was a hard game to watch and I think the only time they were ahead was when the game ended and they won. 

Christopher's school basketball team is 1-0 and they have a game this afternoon at home so I can watch. He did not start last week but played for most of the game so he was happy. His thumb has healed nicely and he practiced with his baseball team this weekend without any problems. We are going to Singapore over Thanksgiving weekend to play in a "Turkey Tournament" - kind of funny because (obviously) Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Asia.  I guess all of the teams participating are comprised of ex-pat players from the different international schools in South East Asia so it is an appropriate name.

We are well into the monsoon season and it has been raining A LOT every day, more than I think it did last year. I have a rain gauge and we are consistently getting 1/2" to 1 1/2" of rain every day. Some days it doesn't rain but Mother Nature always seems to make it up with a deluge or two the next day! There is a lot of discussion in Nichada and within the Embassy community about whether or not it will flood again. Depending on the day, who you talk to or what newspaper you read (or the phase of the moon), it might flood....

or it might not...  

There is already some significant flooding in the Northern and Eastern parts of Thailand and Bangkok will most likely be impacted in some way as that water moves South. The streets downtown  have already been flooding from the heavy rains over the last couple of weeks so it will be quite messy if we are still in monsoon season when the water from the North arrives.

I have to post the photo below. This is the beautiful family that lives next door to us here. Nichada is preparing a 2012 Calendar featuring residents & their pets and Sonder was included with their family for the photo shoot. I gave him a bath that morning and he managed to behave well enough so this great photo could be taken.
Sonder LOVES these children! While we were gone over the summer, they had him over quite often so he could get his "kid" fix. If we are in the front room of our home and they are out playing in their yard, he whimpers at me until I let him out. Then, he runs down to the gate at the end of our driveway and sits there patiently waiting until they come over and pet him. It is so sweet! 

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Five Out Of Six

With the exception of VA Tech's horrible loss to Pitt, all of our other teams had great wins this weekend (well, except for the Redskins but a loss for them is a win for me). Notre Dame, the New York Giants, Caitlynne's basketball team, and Christopher's basketball team were all victorious. I love this time of year - so many sports and teams to keep an eye on. It is such a hassle to keep updating the scores on-line every few minutes and I wish that we were able to watch more of the games and coverage on television. I miss Howie Long and Fox NFL! The sports section of seems to be the best for getting up-to-the-minute scores and current sports headlines. In addition, yahoo also has a wide variety of sports articles and columnists so we tend to get most of our sports information from that website.    

I took Christopher's splint off Friday night and, although his thumb was still a bit swollen and bruised, he could move it pretty well and did not have any pain. The swelling went down even more by yesterday morning and it felt good enough for him to play in his basketball game yesterday afternoon. He said there was one time in the game when he couldn't get a good grip on the ball but that was the only issue. He played really well and I believe his team won by 15 points. A lot of middle school students were on a field trip this weekend so there were only five players on his team - it is so hard on these kids when there are no subs and no chance for a rest or cool down (other than halftime). In addition, the game was played in the outdoor gym and the boys were hot and sweaty (not to mention stinky) just a few minutes into the game. 

We returned to the doctor this morning for a follow up appointment and he was given the all clear to play sports again (we obviously didn't tell the doctor about him playing yesterday) but to take it easy for another 7-10 days. Christopher has his first school basketball game this afternoon and his coach was going to start him if his thumb was better so he was relieved to get the "official" go ahead from the doctor.  

Caitlynne's team had a rough game yesterday but managed to eek out a win. I was on my own with coaching the girls and felt very uncomfortable because I really know nothing about the rules of the game. I wasn't even sure how to call a time out and how many time outs I had available to call.  However, it was only a community league game so not too competitive. Caitlynne's team was also affected by the school field trip and we only had 6 players to start with. Fortunately, another player showed up about halfway through the game because the girls had started to drop like flies. At one point, we had one girl on the bench with ice on her ankle, one girl laying on the floor with ice on her head, and another girl in foul trouble. Ack! They held it together though and we made it through the game. Caitlynne's school basketball team has another away game this afternoon and the school they are playing has a very experience U15 team so, hopefully, her team won't be plagued by the troubles we had yesterday.  

Sonder's multiple ailments are clearing up, slowly but surely. He is loving his twice-weekly baths. As soon as I dry him off, he goes right to his bed and I cover him with a towel so he stays warm during his nap.  
Nodding off.
Have a great Monday!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Next?!?

I had to take Sonder to the vet on Tuesday because he had a horrible rash on his stomach and was itching up a storm. It turns out he is allergic to a mold that grows in the grass here during the wet season. He will now need to take an anti-histamine if he is outside for any length of time or lays in the grass. It seems the mold transfers from the grass to his body and then irritates his skin. The vet found his inner ears were inflamed so we were sent home with antibiotics and an ear wash for those as well. I also have to give him a bath twice a week with an anti-fungal shampoo because, apparently, there is a fungus that he is susceptible to and needs to be protected against. Poor thing! He is on the 3rd day of the meds and it seems that his itching has decreased a little bit. 

Here is my boy having a bit of a cuddle.

 Caitlynne's U15 basketball team had their first game on Monday and they won, 24-12. 
Caitlynne is giving the thumb's up behind the score clock. It was an away game so I don't have any details on how they played. However, their coach was very pleased because the final team was selected only last Thursday and they hadn't even practiced together as a team before the game. 

Even with his injured thumb, Christopher was selected to the ISB U13 basketball team. They have their first game Monday and it is a home game at ISB so I will be able to go. We return to the doctor on Monday morning for a follow-up appointment so, hopefully, Christopher will be cleared to play in the game. 

I have been glued to the computer all morning reading about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It is a harsh reminder of how vulnerable U.S. Government personnel are when posted to other countries, especially those personnel who serve in hostile environments or under adverse conditions. The Embassy flags are at half-staff today in memory of the four Americans who lost their lives.  

Have a great Thursday.   

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It Never Fails!

Whenever Kevin is out of town on a business trip, we always seem to have some kind of an "incident" (and usually not a good one). This trip was no exception. Kevin left for the U.S. Sunday morning and this is what we were looking at Monday morning...
During baseball practice Sunday afternoon, Christopher caught for one of the older boys on their travel team. The 70+ mph pitches eventually took their toll. Fortunately, his thumb is just sprained and he has a badly bruised bone around his knuckle/joint. We hope that resting it for 7-10 days with no sports/activity will heal it up just fine. Christopher is determined to make it to adulthood without having a broken bone so his "record" is still intact. Can anyone tell me why boys consider everything as being a competition?

I was a little apprehensive about having him treated at the local Thai hospital but it wasn't all that much different from a hospital in the U.S. The doctor, nurses and x-ray technicians all spoke very good English and, while not incredibly fancy or high-tech, the facilities were clean and the registration/treatment process was smooth and relatively fast. We were in and out in about 1 1/2 hours. The incredibly low cost of medical treatment, supplies and medication here never ceases to amaze me. This is the detail from my invoice:

Medication                       192 TB ($6.40 USD)
Medical Supplies             185 TB ($6.15 USD)
X-Ray                                350 TB ($11.70 USD)
Nursing Charge                  50 TB ($1.65 USD)
Other Medical Charge     30 TB ($1.00 USD)
Doctor Fee                       300 TB ($10.00 USD)
Physician Procedures   600 TB ($20.00 USD)
Grand Total                   1,707 TB ($56.90 USD)

Fortunately, we haven't had the need to be in an ER in the U.S. in many years so I can't accurately compare costs.  However, I imagine that a bill for comparable services performed in the U.S. would be significantly more.  

I am on a daily dosage of medicine to treat Hashimoto's Disease and, in the US, I paid $12.00 (after insurance) for a 30 day supply of Synthyroid. Here in Thailand, I buy a 100 day supply for $6.00 USD. It almost isn't worth the effort to complete the required paperwork and submit it to our insurance company to get a few pennies reimbursed to us. 

Have a great Tuesday!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

More Summer Reading

A few more books from my summer reading.

1.  Welcome to the Bangkok Slaughterhouse: The Battle for Human Dignity in Bangkok's Bleakest Slums by Joe Maier and Jerry Hopkins.

"For twenty-five years, Father Joe Maier, a Catholic priest, has lived and worked in Bangkok's bleakest slums, establishing more than thirty schools, five shelters for street kids, and several projects for women and children with AIDS, working with and against authority, earning enmity and praise in equal measure. In this book, he tells the heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of the poorest of Thailand's poor, each a gem guaranteed to bring anger, tears, and joy. 100% of all proceeds will be donated to the Human Development Fund in Bangkok, Thailand."

My comments: This book was sad and difficult to read.  I kept thinking about Say Jon's future and what his life (most likely) will be like once he reaches the age of 15 and is no longer under the care of the Thai Government. The poverty in Bangkok is so visible and such a reality in our daily lives here - it is everywhere you look, no matter where you are in the city. 

2.  Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green.

"Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she's finally found him.  Ethan--divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia--is a devoted father and even better husband.  Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives…and in their hearts."

My comments: Jane Green is another favorite author of mine. I sobbed and sobbed while reading this book...not too cool when you are on a crowded airplane.  

3.  The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

"The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.
Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.
From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.
Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk."

My comments: I haven't finished this book yet - it is very long (almost 500 pages) but, so far, worth the time.  Good (what I consider) "historical fiction".  

So, you probably noticed the absence of the HOTTEST book(s) of the summer on my list...I really, really, really tried to read the books in the "Fifty Shades" series. Beyond the initial curiosity to see what everyone was talking (and facebooking) about, I just could not get interested in them.  According to a friend, the third book in the series ties (no pun intended) everything together so I guess if I stuck it out that long, I might have a different opinion.

I hope you are enjoying the weekend!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Not A Good Start To My Friday

Second post for today! It poured ALL day yesterday (over 3 inches of rain in 24 hours) and since I was stuck inside, I caught up on all of my paperwork, "real" (income-producing) work and a lot of little odds and ends. I also watched some of the Giants-Cowboys game - not a good outcome for my team but it is early in the season and I am sure they will get back on track and play hard. After all, they are the reigning Superbowl champs! Today, other than running a few errands around Nichada, there was nothing for me to do!  Well, not really...but nothing I felt motivated to do!

I was just about finished with my run this morning when I (unknowingly) stepped in a pile of dog poop. So Gross! Fortunately, I had taken my running shoes off at the front door and only noticed the poop when I went to bring them inside later in the morning. Nothing annoys me more than pet owners who a) do not clean up after their pets and b) do not control their pets (i.e., put them on a leash in public areas or when walking).

I have been running every other day which isn't so great for the mileage on my transcontinental run but the good news is that the issues I was having with my knee seem to have been resolved. My plan for the next month is to run 5-6 miles every other day. I am also going to try and run once a week either on the treadmill at the gym or at the ISB track. Hopefully, these changes will keep my injury free. I just need to get through 10 more months of running on this horribly sloped concrete surface and then we will be back in the U.S. and I will have better options.  

I stole this from a friend's Facebook page this morning...
This certainly rings true in my world! Christopher is taking algebra this year and he sits with Kevin every night to review what was taught in class that day and to go over his homework. Since Kevin is traveling so much this year, I was very concerned about how Christopher was going to get help with algebra. When Kevin was away last week, I tried to help Christopher but we eventually had to resort to using Google to figure out how to do the problem. (By the way, why on earth does a 7th grader need to know ANYTHING about logarithms?!?). Clearly, we needed to figure something out - and soon - because Kevin leaves on Sunday and will be gone until early October. So, this week, we devised an elaborate plan for Christopher to scan and email a copy of his homework problems to Kevin as soon as he gets home from school (it will be early morning in the U.S.). They will then Skype and review any problems that Christopher had trouble with or needs additional help on. I have my fingers crossed that this will be a good solution. Thank goodness for technology! 

Caitlynne has a community league basketball game this evening and Christopher has his tomorrow. Caitlynne is going to play on the ISB Girls' Under 15 team and their first game is Monday after school. We are still waiting to see if Christopher made the final cut for the ISB Boys' Under 13 team. Over 30 boys initially tried out so the coach had a large pool of players to chose from. Christopher is also playing on a baseball travel team that will be going to Singapore for a "Turkey Tournament" (obviously over the Thanksgiving holiday). I love that they are each playing (and enjoying) a sport but the practices and games sure do make for a busy schedule. One or the other of the kids has had practice every night this week and a couple of the nights, Kevin went along to help coach.  I don't think we had dinner together as a family once this week.  We eat in shifts - I eat with the kid who doesn't have practice and, after practice, Kevin eats with the other one.  Not the best arrangement but it works for the short term.

Have a great Friday! (Again).

What I Read This Summer

As an add-on to yesterday's post, below are some of the books that I read over the summer. I will post a few more tomorrow. All of the reviews are summaries that I cut and pasted from Amazon in case any of you want to get an idea of the storyline.   

1.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

My comments:  All I can say is "WOW". I won't even copy the review from Amazon. You must read this book and then you will understand what I mean. I can't even begin to imagine how the author came up with the plot. This is the book that was reviewed in People and that I downloaded in Tokyo to my Kindle. Best.Move.Ever.

2.  Forget You Had A Daughter: Doing Time In The 'Bangkok Hilton': Sandra Gregory's Story by Sandra Gregory, Michael Tierney and Martin Bell. 

"Having lived a successful life in Bangkok that included friends, two teaching jobs, and her own apartment, Sandra Gregory recounts how her life took a terrible turn in 1993 and how she experienced a journey from prison to renewal. While recuperating from dysentery and dengue fever, Gregory ran out of money. With mounting medical bills to pay, she met a heroin addict who offered her $1,000 to smuggle his personal supply of heroin to Japan. It was just enough to pay her medical bills and buy a ticket home, but Gregory was arrested at Bangkok airport before she even boarded the plane. Detailing the four and a half years she spent in the notorious Lard Yao prison, dubbed the "Bangkok Hilton," Gregory describes scenes of horrific brutality and suffering before being transferred to a British jail to serve the rest of her 22-year sentence. She tells of her daily fight for survival, of many women who died with no medical care or loved ones around them, and of her acceptance of her guilt and ultimate redemption."

My comments: I was surprised to read, despite the horrors this woman experienced while she was in the Thai prison, it was so much worse for her in the British jail(s) that she was transferred to. I chose to read this book because I have a friend who counsels a prisoner at this same prison.  In fact, my friend's prisoner is incarcerated for the exact same reason as was Sandra Gregory. One day, my friend and I had a lively "discussion" about her prisoner's very lengthy prison sentence (at least 20 years) relative to the crime she committed (as opposed to murder, theft, etc.). During our discussion, my friend told me a little about the conditions of the prison and I tracked down this book to read more.  One thing I learned from this book is that you absolutely, positively do not want to smuggle drugs in/around South East Asia. You will get caught and you will most likely die in prison. There is no leniency here for those that support the drug trade. 

3.  Where We Belong by Emily Giffin.

"The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together.  Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.
For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever."

My comments: I enjoyed all of Emily Giffin's previous books and this one was no exception. 

4.  I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events--the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don't by Jennifer Gilbert.

"When Jennifer Gilbert was just a year out of college, a twenty-two-year-old fresh-faced young woman looking forward to a bright future, someone tried to cut her life short in the most violent way. But she survived, and not wanting this traumatic event to define her life, she buried it deep within and never spoke of it again.  She bravely launched a fabulous career in New York as an event planner, designing lavish parties and fairy-tale weddings. Determined to help others celebrate and enjoy life's greatest moments, she was convinced she'd never again feel joy herself. Yet it was these weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties, showered with all her love and attention through those silent, scary years, that slowly brought her back to life.  She fell in love, had her heart broken a few times, and then one day she found true love in a place so surprising that it literally knocked her out of her chair.  
As Gilbert learned over and over again, no one's entitled to an easy road, and some people's roads are bumpier than others. But survive each twist and turn she does—sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughter, and often with both.
Warm, wise, alternately painful and funny, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is an inspiring memoir of survival, renewal, and transformation. It's a tale about learning to let go and be happy after years of faking it, proving that while we can't always control what happens to us, we can control who we become. And instead of anticipating our present in a goodie bag at the end of an event, we realize our presence at every event is the real gift."

My comments: This was another tear-jerker but worth the read. I cannot remember hearing about the horrible event that set her "story" in motion - odd because she was the same age and in the same life situation (recent college grad) as I was at the time she was stabbed.  

Have a great Friday.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What I'm Reading Now

I usually read 2 books at the same time. Well, not at the exact same time but you know what I mean. I like to have an "intelligent" book to read during the day if I have any free time and a book of "lighter" subject matter to read before bed when I am totally exhausted and need a mindless distraction for 30-60 minutes. I just began to read two "intelligent" books and both show great promise.

The first book is titled "Desert Queen, the Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence, King of Arabia" and the author is Janet Wallach. I have wanted to read this book for quite a while and, with Kevin traveling for many weeks, now is a good time to begin. I envision Gertrude Bell as being somewhat of the "Julia Child" (minus the French cooking) of her time - adventurous world traveler, ambitious foreign intelligence independent & pioneering woman doing what few women did at that time. 

This book caught my attention because of my fascination with the historical forces that decided the geographical and political partition that led to the creation of what we now know as the modern Middle East. In the books I read in college while studying the Middle East, I seem to remember most references to Gertrude Bell as being in the context of her reputation as a well-known British traveler and as a famous author of books. It will be interesting to read about her role as confidant and adviser to those directing the events that shaped this region. 

From "Turning away from the privileged world of the "eminent Victorians," Gertrude Bell (1868—1926) explored, mapped, and excavated the world of the Arabs. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence's brawn. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.  In this masterful biography, Janet Wallach shows us the woman behind these achievements–a woman whose passion and defiant independence were at odds wit the confined and custom-bound England she left behind. Too long eclipsed by Lawrence, Gertrude Bell emerges at last in her own right as a vital player on the stage of modern history, and as a woman whose life was both a heartbreaking story and a grand adventure."
The second book I am reading is "The Moon In The Mango Tree", written by Pamela Binnings Ewen.  A friend in Miami recommended this book to me - although she told me to read it only AFTER we moved back to the U.S. as there was a sequence of events that might upset me. Her warning only served to intrigue me so I ordered it from Amazon.    

From "Set in Siam and Europe during the 1920s, a glittering decade of change, The Moon in the Mango Tree is based upon the true story of Barbara Bond, a beautiful young opera singer from Philadelphia who is forced to choose between her fierce desire for independence—a desire to create something of her own to give purpose and meaning to her life—and a deep abiding love for her faithful missionary husband whose work creates a gap between them.  But when you choose between two things you love, must one be lost forever?"
Between the time we spent on flights to/from the U.S. and our travel up and down the East Coast, I read quite a bit over the summer. Before we began our travels, I (very reluctantly) purchased Caitlynne and I each a Kindle. Christopher has a Kindle Fire and Kevin has his iPad so Caitlynne and I were the only ones stuck in the Dark Ages. I hated the idea of not holding a "real" book in my hands and didn't think I would ever be comfortable reading on the Kindle. Boy, was I ever wrong! Caitlynne and I love, love, love our Kindles. No more lugging around a bag stuffed with magazines and books...I loaded about 15 books on to my Kindle before we left Bangkok and always had plenty of reading material.  I carried only my handbag on all of the flights we took this summer!  It was so easy.  

Even with my glasses, I have trouble reading at night or after spending a lot of time working on the computer. I love that I can increase the font size on the Kindle to REALLY BIG. The "instant gratification" part of me also loves that I have almost instant access to books, magazines, etc. No more placing an order on Amazon and waiting, at the very least, a week for its delivery. On our flight from Bangkok to Tokyo, I read an interesting book review in People Magazine (one of my few guilty pleasures). During our layover in Tokyo, I accessed the wi-fi in the United Lounge and downloaded the reviewed book to read during the next leg of our trip. 

If you are considering purchasing a Kindle, I would highly recommend it! Christopher has the Kindle Fire which has all of the bells and whistles (he can go online, watch movies, it has a back-light & sound, etc.) but the very basic model I have suits me just fine. I imagine the Nook is very similar to the Kindle.  We didn't consider the Nook only because Christopher already had his Kindle Fire and it seemed easy to use.

Have a great Thursday.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I was finally able to go to the Babies' Home this morning and take Say Jon to the playroom.  Since I was sick last week and he was sick the week before, this is the first time that I have seen him since mid-June. I don't know if he was happy to see me or not but he smiled a lot and was in a very good mood the entire time we were together. When I applied to volunteer at the Home, I had to sign a statement certifying that I would not initiate adoption proceedings for any child at the Home. At that time, I wasn't sure of intent of that requirement - I would think more adoptions would be better for the Home (and the children). However, on a day like today, I can see why they had me sign that statement as I would have taken Say Jon home with me in a heartbeat!  He was so sweet and fun to be with. Kevin is giving me grief about getting a second dog so I can only imagine his reaction if I turned up at home with a 10 month old boy! I do keep my dear husband on his toes!

The first "change" I noticed with Say Jon was that he could sit up by himself.  When I left for the summer, he could sit by himself for MAYBE 10 seconds before toppling over. Now, he sits like a champ!

(We had to change clothes mid-way through my visit because of a leaking bottle.) 

As you can tell from the photos above and those below, he LOVES chewing on the cap to his bottle. He is still not crawling properly but is scooting all over and likes to pull himself up on my legs and knees and to climb all over me.  

I also noticed that he was very interested in the different toys that I put before him.  

Today, there were about 15 volunteers at the Home and, as a result, a lot of activity and noise in the playroom. Say Jon wasn't inclined to scoot over and "play" with any of the other children but he had to know what was going on around us all of the time. The sound of a loud noise or a child laughing (or crying) had him pivoting around to catch the action. 

All of this activity wore him out and he crashed right after I gave him a bottle.

Kevin needs the car a couple of days this week but I hope I can get back to see him again before the weekend.  

The photos below are of a very common sight in Bangkok and illustrate just how underdeveloped Thailand is. Could you imagine ever seeing something like this in the U.S.?  When you walk along the sidewalk in the photo below, you must duck your head in order to avoid the power lines.  Yikes!  It is just like this (and sometimes even worse) on some streets downtown.
Can you imagine if one wire in the photo below is malfunctioning?  How on earth would you determine which wire it was and how could it be repaired without killing someone?!?
 Always an adventure!

Have a great Tuesday and I hope our friends in the Northern Virginia area have a wonderful back to school! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

Happy September and Happy Labor Day weekend!  The days are going by so quickly...

The kids' basketball games yesterday were a definite improvement over the ones they played last week! While Cailtynne's team lost again, it was only by three points - the score was very close the entire game and the girls (on both teams) played really well. Since the girls all go to school together and most of them are pretty good friends, it is fun to watch them interact during the game. They are very competitive but the minute the whistle blows, they are chatting and laughing together - sometimes too much. Kevin was in town this week and he took over as co-coach for me. He and the other coach seemed to actually know what they were doing so maybe that is why the game was so close?!?  Caitlynne is No. 40 in the photos below.  
She is definitely one of the taller girls on the team.
Christopher's team won by quite a bit and he played a great game.  
Kevin also helped coach for Christopher's game. Kevin leaves for the U.S. next week and will be gone for several weeks so he is making the most of his time here.
The Basketball League trains and pays the kids to scorekeep the games throughout the season. The photo below is terrible but it is of Caitlynne and a friend scorekeeping a game yesterday.  Caitlynne loves to earn money and this is a fun way for her to do it!  
Caitlynne and another friend (and another terrible photo!) relaxing after their game.
A few nights ago, I made 
 From this cookbook...
I will be honest... usually (well, ALL the time!), I just grab the "Manwich" pre-made sauce at the grocery store and use that to make Sloppy Joes. However, there was none to be found in Nichada and since I have also been trying to use less prepared foods in my cooking & our meals, I looked through my cookbooks for a recipe. Rachel Ray came to the rescue!

The browned ground beef. 
Chopped sweet red pepper and onion.

Tomato sauces & paste.
Red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce for flavoring. I also added freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt.
A fresh fruit plate, a green salad and the Sloppy Joes (served over hamburger buns) made a complete meal for us (with very little left over). This was incredibly easy to make and was very good.  Never again will I use the canned/pre-made sauce.

In other news... we are teaching Caitlynne to drive the golf cart so that she will have the experience of driving some kind of vehicle before it is time for her to learn to drive a car. Both Kevin and I had experience driving tractors or ride-on lawn mowers when we were growing up but (obviously) she will never have that experience so we will use the golf cart.  Very quickly, it became very apparent that Kevin will be teaching both of the kids to drive. Although I beg to differ, it has been said that I  screech and scream too much. 

Have a great Sunday and enjoy the long holiday weekend!