YoungLife Thailand

We have become good friends with the Vechprasit family in the last couple of years. They also happen to be the folks heading up YoungLife Thailand. And they’re our neighbors, too! How random, right 😉 Well, in acknowledging just how too well things have aligned themselves for us to be more intentional in the relationships we make while here, our family has entered this new (school) year with the commitment to be as supportive and involved as possible with the literally down-the-street YL crew.

yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_001 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_002

What does that mean? It means as much as we are trying to assimilate to life abroad we are also more fully embracing being native-English speakers and engaging with the youth in this language area they themselves are learning at school and in anticipation of their future work opportunities. It means baking monthly birthday cakes. It means baking cookies in this humidity and heat. It means going on camps and day trips. It means really trying to learn who we are as individuals, as a couple and as a family — and using both the strengths and weaknesses tools for love and generosity and hospitality. It means stepping out of our respective comfort zones and being challenged to grow in ways we could have never concocted ourselves. It’s been tiring and beautiful and always always always worth it.

yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_003 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_004 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_005 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_006 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_007

Recently Dan went on a one-day trip to Ratchaburi with a looooooot of high school students who he has never met before from a school he has never stepped foot in and proudly wore the awkward badge of farang. To say I was and am proud of this man of mine is quite the understatement.

yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_010 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_015 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_014 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_013 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_012 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_011

And, really, if you know my more introverted people-watching better half who prefers not being in the limelight on a personal level, you can definitely understand just how outside of his comfort zone this trip was. But you can also probably imagine how much he rose to the occasion and gave it all he got. What a guy!

yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_016 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_017 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_018 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_019 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_020 yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_021

We just celebrated our four year anniversary…and where we are now versus where we were all those years ago when we were in the “technically not dating but kind of seeing each other but are just friends and maybe more but not that but yeah maybe that and I don’t know” stage is so much better. We really have no idea what we are doing 68% of the time, but it’s so much nicer being bewildered and still committed to whatever may come together.

yl-thailand-ratchaburi-2016_022

Advertisements

Happy Birthday (month), Dan!

To say that Dan likes to be the center of attention would be a bold faced lie. I think if there were to be a movie made about him, he would still push for his role to be secondary. The guy just isn’t into much fanfare when it comes to him. But I know he can get feeling forgotten in some regards over here. It’s hard standing out (as something to stare at or held up to observe) but not connecting completely…language and culture differences can do that.

But one of the best parts of being here is that we have befriended amazing folks, and they love celebrating and connecting and doing life together. And who better to make feel extra special and loved in the great month of March then the bearded man in our midst who shares a birthday with Chuck Norris?!? 
In the Harris home we celebrate a birthday for a month because how can you possibly fit all that quality time and all the potential new experiences in a day? In a week? Is it a bit overboard…yes, yes it is. But it’s also fun. And with a month you get to do all sorts of things that would usually be put on the back burner. It also just puts you in the mindset to just go with it for the next four weeks. And so things were planned, things were schemed and things were enjoyed!

He saw movies with friends who could stay quiet during a movie and truly enjoy the viewing experience. We would do surprise visits to his work and pick him up at the end of the day for random family outings. He went out with friends (The Revenant). We went out on dates. We stayed home and lounged. He pet llamas with Louis. He snuggled with Estelle. He drank IPAs with me (Paulaner Garden Restaurant and O’Glee). With the help of his coworkers and students, I threw a surprise party during his homeroom period (baked treats from On A Sweet Note). And the sweet nature-loving man chose a pool villa for me to whisk him away for on the last weekend of the month for us to be together as just a family in the quiet and peace of Khao Yai National Park (Kirimaya Muthi Maya).

img_5121-2 img_4044-1 img_6455-1 img_7772-1 img_6131-1 img_7771 DansBdayParty_0015 DansBdayParty_0018 img_6927 img_7150-1 img_7088-1 img_6972 img_7015 img_6712 img_6100-1 img_7157-3

 

 

Life on Pichayanan | A Neighborhood Tour

We live at the very end of a side street of a bigger side street off the main road, kind of like a cul de sac except not in a development. (It really doesn’t make much sense until you see it in person.) During the day, to get a bit of exercise and to get out of the house, we go on walks. One of the joys of having a toddler is that he is always ready to go outside. And one of the downsides of a having a toddler is that he is always ready to go outside…regardless of the time of day and the temperature of the day.

Favorite times outside in this wonderful country of heat and humidity? Before lunch and before dinner…when, you know, it’s cool and there’s a breeze [eyeroll]. But I love the boy, and despite all the sweating involved, I also love the feel of the sun on my skin. And Estelle? She is our wonderful youngest child who doesn’t get much say at this point. So please enjoy this compilation of a mini tour, as guided by Louis ตะวัน (and note that you don’t see any neighbors because they, in their great wisdom, stay inside when it’s this hot outside):

LoPtour1 LoPtour2 LoPtour3 LoPtour4 LoPtour5 LoPtour6 LoPtour7  LoPtour9 LoPtour10

Most of these walks end up in a neighbor’s house. As in, we walk onto another person’s private property and are welcomed because…why not? We’ve much to learn about hospitality from this country we currently call home. Anyway this is just our little corner. There are many other walking routes in and around many other neighbors’ homes. And many many many little critters and creatures along the way. Sigh.

 

International Love | Bpa Olay, Tao & Euy Leslie

Hey-o! We had family visiting in the fabulous month of February: my mom, my sister and my niece said “see you later” to the respective men in their lives and hopped on a plane to cross the great Pacific Ocean (side note: how brave is my 9 year old niece to fly for the first time on an international flight???) to spend 16 wonderful days in Thai suburbs with us. I would like to think they desperately missed me and Dan but we all know it was for the kids, as evidenced by the fact that upon their arrival they handed over their luggage and waltzed right in looking for Estelle and Louis. It was nothing less than expected 🙂

Despite the heat (“No, no too hot!”) for my mom and the smell (“Everything smells like poop.”) for my niece, we did get in a few random trips outside for walks (“There are flies. Do you know what flies do when they land???”) and drives (“It’s not that I don’t trust you driving, it’s just I don’t understand why that man seems like he’s trying to get into our car on his motorcycle.” and “Leslie Leslie Leslie oye!”) to different shopping centers. It was the exactly the kind of easy, crazy, boring, exciting and hilarious time I had been missing with these fine people of mine.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

   
    
    
   

Life on Pichayanan | Mini Tour (round 1)

Ahhh…our daughter is going to join us earth side in less than a week! Her big brother is over a year and a half old now. Dan is scurrying and prepping and planning like a mad scientist for end of semester activities and getting things set up for paternity leave. I am…heavily pregnant. Just so heavily pregnant. Swollen with child. I get it. I got that phrase with the first kid, but man do I get that phrase with this second kid.

Louis is napping. I should also in theory be taking advantage of this time and napping as well. Or resting. Or whatever. I happen to be housing a very exuberant little girl who has been trying to join her family way too early for the last 10 weeks. She is not down with resting or napping at this point. So I finally dusted off my laptop and uploaded pictures from “the big camera” of our home. Well, the downstairs portion of our home. The next two floors will have to wait because I’m pretty selective of how often I go up and down those stairs these days.

house_downstairs_0001 house_downstairs_0002 house_downstairs_0003 house_downstairs_0004 house_downstairs_0005 house_downstairs_0006 house_downstairs_0007 house_downstairs_0008 house_downstairs_0009 house_downstairs_0010 house_downstairs_0011 house_downstairs_0012 house_downstairs_0013 house_downstairs_0014 house_downstairs_0015 house_downstairs_0016

I love our downstairs. It’s where most of the partying happens. It’s where life is lived: where books are read, where goodies are baked, where meals are shared, where friendships grow and where kids run wild. There are challenges, obviously, in adjusting to things outside the comfort and convenience of the school gates. (Dan has an interesting walking “commute” that he’ll have to document and share — in short, he is crash learning/using Thai a lot and is the only farang in our neighborhood…so no pressure about first and second and nonstop impressions, right? I am being challenged with preconceived notions of my identity/worth in my current role as a quasi-work at home mom and could wax philosophical about that for ages.) But we are loving our home and are coming to embrace life on Pichayanan more and more.

 

Year Three in Thailand

So we’ve been back for our third year at Global English School for nearly two months now after having a wonderful two months of visiting family + friends in Washington state. And it’s taken me this long to update on life (anything and everything that we’ve experienced prior to this will just have to be back logged at a later time — they are definitely worth chronicling and curating for ourselves!) because we have been without internet since we are technically homeless. 

But in a bid to our commitment of being more intentional in our relationships and communication this year, I finally just downloaded an app to make posts easier to write up (though I do miss typing things out on my laptop). Okay onto what’s happening these days:
(1) a week before coming back we got a message that we would be moving into a townhouse off campus (something we had wanted and were looking forward to) — but like three months ahead of schedule. And could we have all our things packed and ready to go within 5 days of arrival? Except when we moved the first time, things were still in construction site status…so we lived out of suitcases for a week in two different friends’ houses. And the second time we moved in, we were there long enough to discover that the contractors didn’t do so good of a job with the plumbing (aka really bad leaking situation). So we are now squatting at another townhouse and crossing all magical toes + fingers that we get to move back in FOR GOOD after this weekend.

(2) transitioning time zones to BKK hours was far easier than going into PST…we think it’s because the sun is always out! Louis had a trickier time warming up to all the folks here who have been waiting to love on him all summer long while we were away. But he is definitely back in the rhythm of being polite with our hellos and goodbyes (vs refusing to acknowledge anybody): he’s even gone a bit overboard with spontaneous hugs and dramatic double handed blowing of kisses to strangers. He is a character. Dan and I are into the swing of things and trying to better map out our schedules. Planners! Calendars! Growing up is hard. And overrrated. But we are in the land of smiles and street food, so things aren’t too bad 🙂
(3) Dan has been excited and staying on top of his lesson planning + grading this year, which has made for more quality family time once he’s home from work. It’s awesome to see him less stressed about classes and teaching responsibilities — this may have to also do with the fact that he’s no longer a first year teacher with no formal training or a father of a newborn taking online classes this time around 🙂 He’s such an invested teacher. We are loving that he loves his job so much.

(4) parenting while pregnant is…well, hard. But rewarding. I’m learning to have to sloooooow down more and to ask for help more often; practices of patience and humility on a whole ‘nutha level. If marriage is sanctifying, then parenting is refining. Yes, definitely refining. Our little girl is a mover and is already responding to her big brother. They will be a funny pair, I’m sure of it.

(4) we are currently at a staff retreat in Suphan Buri about an hour and a half northwest of Nonthaburi. I’ve no idea of the camp name but it’s been nice to be away from the hot city sidewalks and connect with farang + Thai staff. And since an update isn’t quite as nice without pictures, here are some snaps of our time here so far:

   
    
    
 

Christmas in Chiang Rai | Canary Natural Resort

Christmas 2014 (I know…posting about Christmas in April) had us staying in Thailand for the two-week school break. We knew we wanted to get out of the city and experience a slower pace of life for just a bit. After scrolling through Agoda and Trip Advisor, we stumbled upon the Canary Natural Resort in Chiang Rai. It looked so enticingly green, quiet and restful that I’m pretty sure our stay, flight and car rental were all booked within 48 hours.

And, oh man, it was wonderful. We are, after all, country mice at heart — so getting away into the actual countryside felt like a cool breath of fresh air, which is also something we got a lot of while up there. Who knew that the PNW natives would get cold up in northern Thailand? Certainly not us. There was a lot of sleeping in hoodies and socks, which is something we had not been doing for quite some time!

But. Oh, my. We loved it. It was what our tired minds and spirits were needing — respite from busyness and time carved out just for our family in an environment that invited outdoor exploration. We enjoyed our stay so much at the Canary Natural Resort that we’ve booked the Garden Villa again for the Songkran holiday. Anyway, here are pictures!

Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0003 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0018 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0019

(I’ll have to better photograph the accommodations when we’re there next week: private gate, wraparound porch, outdoor tub, windows everywhere.)

Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0011 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0015

Breakfast was included — homemade bread and apricot jam AND freshly roasted coffee from beans grown on a neighboring mountain. What?!? Fantastic. Meals and drinks were served in the main house building that had a view of the grounds.

Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0025 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0026 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0027 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0029 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0031 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0032 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0033 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0034 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0035 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0037 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0038 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0042 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0046 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0050 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0092 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0093 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0094 Chiang Rai Christmas 2014_0125

 

There’s also a resident white parrot. But we didn’t take a picture of it for some reason. And there are ATVs to rent. And more areas to roam. Did I mention that Dan drove us around while we were up there? Yeah, that made it another level of adventure for the Harris family.

 

 

Siam Ocean World

We went to Siam Ocean World in November one weekend; it may have been because we were having a staycation in Bangkok. (I can’t remember. It was like four months ago.) It had been on our list of “oh that would be neat to check out” since we first moved here, and timing + location finally seemed to have worked out for this to happen. Plus, Louis was of an age where he wouldn’t be asleep or just staring at his fingers the whole time.

Siam Ocean World_0002 Siam Ocean World_0003 Siam Ocean World_0004 Siam Ocean World_0005 Siam Ocean World_0007 Siam Ocean World_0011 Siam Ocean World_0012 Siam Ocean World_0013 Siam Ocean World_0019 Siam Ocean World_0020 Siam Ocean World_0015 Siam Ocean World_0016 Siam Ocean World_0017 Siam Ocean World_0018 Siam Ocean World_0022 Siam Ocean World_0023 Siam Ocean World_0024 Siam Ocean World_0026 Siam Ocean World_0027

2 out of 3 of us liked the sharks. The one “no, thank you” vote echoed rather loudly in the tunnel, so there was quite the dash through to get back into bright lights. Dan’s theory: dim lights mean bedtime and the kid wanted us to know that he was NOT going to sleep.

Harris Family Adventures | Panary Cafe Dutch Baby Pancake

One of our favorite random finds on Ari Soi 4 is Panary Cafe Dutch Baby Pancake. The ambience was very relaxed and the decor quirkily fun.

Panary Cafe_0010Panary Cafe_0007Panary Cafe_0009  Panary Cafe_0008
And the food was delicious. Baked in a cast iron pan to achieve a crispy edge with a high rise, and then the middle is piled with tasty toppings. Not wanting to be complete gluttons (in public, that is) we stuck with just ordering one savory and one sweet to split with our respective caffeinated beverages of choice. It’s still hard to pinpoint the appropriate words to describe this dish to somebody who has never known the pleasure of a Dutch baby pancake. Leslie, too, was once on that sad sad side but is now on the brighter, more glorious side of knowing. But we’ll give it a try.

Panary Cafe_0004
The pancake portion is sweet and fluffy and egg-y. It’s just…you’ve got to try it. And the toppings! Oh, the toppings. We ordered the Salmon & Cream Cheese pancake: nice sized slab of smoked salmon, a rocket salad tossed with balsamic vinegar and an incredible ball of wasabi-infused cream cheese. People! The cream cheese gives the dish that special kick, making it just yum, so do not neglect the crucial step of slathering that cream cheese all over everything. Everything. And then licking the knife.

Panary Cafe_0002
After cleaning our palettes with our latte and americano, we delved our way through the Custard Cream & Berry Sauce pancake. The custard was light and smooth with a nice scent of vanilla. (Yes, we smell our food.) And the batch of homemade berry sauce was decadently sweet — if it were a bit more on the tart side, we think there would be more balance in the dish. But what do we know? We shoveled that dish into our mouths quicker than Louis could make a little baby cry.

Panary Cafe_0003
As silly farangs in a city that has a lot of unspoken rules and procedures, we really appreciated the simple & straight forward sign that told us to make our order at the front and find our own seat. Thank you, Panary Cafe! The wait staff was very friendly, helpful and accommodating – they gave us space and helped arrange out table when the little fellow was getting a bit antsy. Plus, they were young dudes and acted all sorts of cute when trying to play with Louis.

Panary Cafe_0006 Panary Cafe_0005  Panary Cafe_0001
This is definitely a restaurant we will revisit, especially when we are in a mood for a “back home” kind of brunch. Looking forward to ordering more off the menu and bringing friends to sample the Dutch babies!

 

Why Teenagers Make Me Happy (Reason #251)

This weekend, I read one of the funniest things in my time managing our school’s Facebook page. I literally laughed out loud.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 9.49.28 AM

“please let me know before my mom gets mad at me…” I love it! And his mom. She knows what’s up, and I appreciate that she’s involved with his studies. For some odd reason, it’s the norm for parents of our middle and high school students to be hands off and rather absentee in their schooling. So reading this post was refreshing. And hilarious. It was a fun late night share to the administrators and this student’s science teacher, who also got a good laugh.

Peach is a new student this year, and I have seen this student around campus but have yet to interact to him. I very much look forward to crossing paths with him this week for the sole intent of making fun of him about this. Muahahaha