Wai Kru, Round Two

Every year a Wai Kru ceremony is held at GES, during which students pay respect to their teachers. Wai means to bow and involves bringing your hands together as if in prayer. Kru is teacher 🙂 Thai culture esteems educators very highly, and this traditional ceremony is an opportunity for students to show their gratitude and to also formalize their relationships with their teachers at the beginning of the school year. Kind of like starting things on the right foot, if you will.

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Much of the ceremony is steeped in symbolism. Students often present floral arrangements with specific things — the eggplant flower stands for respect because the tree in bloom has bending branches much like how a student wais a teacher, the bermuda grass stands for patience and growth, popped rice represents discipline since the rice must be heated up to pop and then there is dok kem which has the same name as the Thai word for needle, implying that the student will be sharp-witted.

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Dan’s homeroom kids definitely went an untraditional route and gave their teachers floral leis, which are usually given to singers and performers. That definitely got a laugh out of the director of our school and had the emcee jokingly giving the kids a hard time. Though it is a serious time, the Wai Kru ceremony at GES is more infused with warmth than formality in hopes of that being a reflection of the kind of nurturing student-teacher relationships the school wishes to establish.

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These were pictures taken by the 2nd shooter at the event. And my helping with the marketing for GES gives me quite the access to school events and picture 🙂 Plus, Louis was being extra alert (too good to nap) that day so I got to take Instagram shots for all the ceremonies and make social media updates throughout the day for work. And now, here is the obligatory picture of the little mister watching on as his daddy was on stage…we are obviously thrilled to be there haha

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Letter to Louis | Two Months

Lumberjack Lou, you are my favorite little human.

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You are two months plus four days old. We took you to a new pediatrician at a closer hospital for a general check up and vaccinations the other day. Guess what? You are rocking out to life these days at 14 lbs and 24 inches long. Ha 🙂 In the Harris home, we have low centers of gravity and you are fitting right in. But really, Louis, quit growing so much and so fast. Slow down.

I love having you as my baby boy, but can’t ignore that your body is already stretching out a bit more each day. Your toes dangle off my lap when we sit in the rocking chair. And when I lean you up against my raised knees into a V-shape, your feet drum against my chest when I sing songs and tickle your belly. With every ounce of weight you gain, you are also learning how to express yourself in new ways — sweet coos, deep grunts, indignant yells, sleepy smiles, aww-inducing pouts, expectantly raised brows.

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The way you kick your feet and pump your arms around has your dad dreaming of days when you two will be running around playing sports together. He has high hopes of baby proofing things when you’re 6 months old. I have high hopes that you will be happy to just sit and quietly play; I’m not sure if I’ll be wanting to chase after an early walker. This phase of your growing up is fun. You are still small (relative word) enough to plop down on the bed or couch with no concern that you’ll take a tumble, but you are also big enough to go on walks around the neighborhood with little worry about your neck flopping about.

Each day your body grows stronger, and although you can’t even roll over yet, you sure do know how to hold your head up long enough to make your opinion known with a quick yap of a cry. Your eyes track and linger on the pictures we have on the walls. You turn your head when you hear one of our voices calling out to you. At times I’ll look at you and can see past your smooshy cheeks and toothless smile and instead see a little boy. A little boy with a sly grin who will probably be getting into all sorts of mischief and trying to charm or negotiate his way out of lectures. A boy who will also quietly and contentedly sit beside his father just observing the sights and sounds around them while solving crossword puzzles together. A person with feelings and preferences and unique abilities ready to experience the wonder of every day.

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One of my favorite things to do with you, my favorite little human, happens in the early morning. I’ll hear your first stirrings of the day, walk into your room, be greeted by your cute face giving me a cute smile and then scoop you up to have your sleep-warmed face all snuggled up into my neck. Then the best thing comes next: we will find your dad in the kitchen getting breakfast ready for us and he’ll scoop the two of us into a bear hug with my head nuzzled under his chin. It’s a great way to start the day, Louis — a special moment of us just being before the busyness starts.
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I love how you have made us into a family of three. I love how you are making me into a better wife and your dad into a better husband. You are a reminder to us of how amazing grace is and how precious second chances are. God is good, Lou. I can’t wait to share with you the experiences of our family that point to the beauty of Abba in our lives. I love you, my sweet and strong and silly boy.

Love,
Mama

First Day of My 2nd Year of School

The first day of school was good. It was much more fun than it was last year because I had half an idea of what I was doing this time around. It didn’t hurt that my first class is biology and I only had 6 students in it; they’re also going to be my homeroom. I told them that since I had half as many students than I did last year, I could  make it twice as hard for them.

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Second class of the day is environmental science with Grade 12 — these are students I didn’t have before, so it was nice to see a new set of faces in my room. So far they seem like a good bunch. They’re surprisingly quiet for high school seniors.

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Third class of the day is chemistry. This is my homeroom class from last year, so I already know I don’t like them. Just kidding. I had them scheduled for four hours for the first two days of the school year so I knew I had to do something fun to keep their attention. First lab of the year was the chemistry of cookies. I don’t know if they learned anything. But we ate delicious cookies.

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Dan the Dreamboat Dad

It is a joy to partner with my husband in this nonstop, hard, beautiful, magical, messy and confusing work that is parenting. I love Dan. And I want to celebrate how nurturing, hands-on and involved of a father he is to Louis._DSC3061

Of all the things that I love about Dan — and there are so many — right near the very top of that lengthy list is how methodical he is. Weird, I know. But, I really really really love how methodical Dan is in how he listens, in how he speaks, in how he thinks, in the things he does…in the way he lives life. He is bound and determined to figure out whatever has caught his attention in that moment and will not leave until he sees it through.

He is focused at whatever thing he is doing with or for Louis. And I must confess that I easily slip into an administrative/coordinator mindset way to often, drumming up lists that need to be done in my mind while doing a task at hand that happens to involve Louis. (Doesn’t the last part of the sentence sound icky and sterile? It is.) I learn how to be a better parent by watching Dan. He parents differently than I do – duh, of course he does! And I want to be more like him as a parent. Why? Because his methodical-ness (is that a word?) means that he is present.

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When he’s giving a bath, he talks and plays with Lou as he carefully wipes down his chubby little body, making sure that all those folds get soaped and rinsed. He isn’t trying to get the bath done and over with as soon as possible so that he can put him to bed so he can watch the next episode of Modern Family or scroll through his Instagram feed. That time together is sacred and he is present with his son. When Dan is trimming his nails after bath time, he is focused and intent…taking as much time as needed to make sure that those little fingers are neat and tidy and unable to scratch that little, sweet face.

I’ve washed a counter crowded with dishes, folded 2 baskets of laundry and cleaned up after the bath in the span of time Dan takes to finish the nail trimming. It seems ridiculous that it would take that long, but it’s not ridiculous and Dan doesn’t take “too long”…it’s just that hes’ so present in the moment that he reads reactions and responds, taking needed breaks to look to the comfort of our child and taking not so needed breaks to kiss very kissable cheeks.

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He’s not multitasking to get through the day; Dan makes memories with Louis. He makes memories that get stored away and treasured, memories to be unpacked and shared with Louis when he is old enough to laugh along with us. Dan tells made-up-on-the-spot fairy tales as he changes diapers; he hums songs and dances to music that isn’t playing to soothe away cries; he puts on silly faces and makes funny noises in front of the mirror to get smiles from a gassy boy; he giggles as he coaches his son how to push and grunt his way through a bowel movement; and he has awesome Popeye forearms for bottle feeding and burping!

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Oh, Dan is funny.

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Thank you, Dan, for being an example to me for the kind of parent I want to be. Thanks for changing poopy diapers at 6am, washing the breast pump for the umpteenth time, walking around in the hot Thai weather with a fussy baby, folding onesies and burp cloths and swaddling wraps, getting your chest hair pulled by little fingers and little toes, comforting a crying babe with steadfast patience and cuddling a cooing babe with a wealth of love.

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I am proud to be your wife. I am thankful that Louis has a father like you, ever pressing towards the hard things in life to grow, leaning on Abba to get you through your days. Danny, you love us both so very very well. You are a wonder. We are blessed to have you in our lives.
Happy Father’s Day to the funniest person I know.

All Coup’d Up

For our dear readers who we call family and friends back in the U.S., this may be news to you: we are living and working in a country that is currently under a military-led government. People, there has been a coup d’état in these parts. And the Thai junta is just three weeks old with a projected “end time” roughly a year from now. You can do a great deal of your own researching to read up about the history of coups in Thailand, the protests that led up to the military takeover or the political tug o’ war that’s been underway for years between parties. Go on, do a bit of Googling to get caught up on the state of affairs if you haven’t done so yet.

So what does that mean for us? Well, not much.

Aside from the reality that the coup has barely affected our every day life, we just don’t want to get involved in affairs because a) we don’t have a firm grasp of how the government works here; b) we don’t want to make political stances that we, for all intents and purposes, have no right to make and c) we are first time parents to a newborn and getting riled up about the junta requires energy that we would rather keep on reserve for showers, grocery shopping and figuring out why baby boy is crying.

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At first, the junta declared a curfew — which has since been completely lifted for the World Cup weekend — that was more annoying than anything because it limited when we could go out and required forethought on transportation since taxis were pickier about their fares since timing really was of the essence to them. My friend Angi and I were turned down by 4 cabbies in a row when we wanted to go to Salt in the Aree neighborhood after our kids had gone to sleep and our evenings were finally free — lame! There was (is?) a shut down of certain TV and radio channels but since we don’t own a television or listen to the radio, so we are completely unaware of whatever announcements are being made on air and don’t have any guilty pleasure soap operas interrupted by the Army chief making statements.

This may show just how out of it we are, but we didn’t even know that a coup had taken place until I received a text message from a friend back in Seattle. Let that sink in. Somebody in Seattle was the one to notify us that there was a coup in the country we are currently living in. Whoops.

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But that may also give a hint as to how high-alert (read: not) things have been in our neighborhood of Nonthaburi. The administration of our school has kept us all up to date about going ons, directing us to different news outlets to read through and encouraging us to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to ease any anxiety families back home may be experiencing on our behalf. GES administration had also pushed back the start time of our school year one week because of the coup to give new teachers more time to adjust/think/reconsider their travels here…and then they showed how terrifying of a place it is we are based at by posing for this picture:

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This isn’t meant as a mockery of the current state of life here, but it is a good example of how not extreme things are in comparison to other nations in the throes of civil unrest. I don’t doubt things are different for those more involved with the protesting and living in the heart of Bangkok. But for the Harris’ in our little corner of the world we are still plugging along day to day, praying for this nation we currently call home.

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International Love | Grandpa John

Shortly after Ba Olay and Tao flew back to Seattle, we were lucky to have another family visitor from home to love on our little mister and to go exploring around Bangkok. Louis was one week old at the time and ready to meet his Grandpa John!

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The two took to each other immediately and there was a whole lot of holding, cuddling and rocking over the next 10 days. Grandpa even played the babysitter so that Dan could take me out of the house and on a date. (I put on mascara and felt like a new woman…it had been a while since I “got ready!”) He was paid in baby coos and burps. Obviously a fair trade.

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We took him out to our favorite local riverside restaurants, introduced him to the wonders of meat on a stick and played the “point to order” game at Nittaya Kai Yang (Dan is a pro at this method). We even took Louis out to his first official adventure to The Jim Thompson House, where he wooed the ladies with his bed head hair and endeared himself further to his parents with his sleepy, sweaty face.

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Dan and his dad also got to clock in some quality time together: checking out the Chatuchak Weekend Market, touring the Grand Palace and seeing Wat Phra Kaew, trying to see Wat Pho but instead getting bamboozled by a tuk tuk driver into a going to a circuit of stores, riding the water taxi down to Yaowarat to find street food in Chinatown, taking the BTS back to Nonthaburi and spending a lazy day puttering around Ko Kret.

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It was a wonderful visit with Grandpa John!

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