Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Days

 Well, I figured I should take this opportunity to share with you some of the happenings of the Johnson family.  We are so very grateful for so many of you who love our family, miss our family, pray for our family, support our family, and ask about our family.  This blog is for you, and especially for the grandparents who love to see pics of all of us;) This is purely the fun stuff that we have done or celebrated in the past few months.

 On May 30th, we celebrated Clay's 5th birthday! I can hardly believe it!  Here Clay is Skyping with Gammie and Mimie.  I think our kids are going to grow up thinking that opening presents on skype is just a part of every birthday and Christmas celebration!  Having lived overseas for almost a year now, we are INCREDIBLY grateful for technology like Skype, especially for our kids to have an ongoing relationship with our family even though they will only "see" them every 2 years!

Happy 5th Birthday my smiley Clay!

Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains.  I have never lived by the mountains before. There are many cool places to visit around here! Here we are at a look out on the side of a mountain with Chiang Mai in the background.

 One of the most popular attractions here in Chiang Mai, for Thai and farangs (foreigners), Doi Sutep mountain

Now that's a Big bell!! 

Thailand is a VERY HOT place!  Though I can't say it was too much of a change from New Orleans summers, but imagine going through NOLA summers without having your AC on all day.  Yep, it gets very hot and humid.  So, this hot season we have enjoyed some special frozen treats.  The popsicle Zeke is eating here, I think was coconut favored with red Kidney beans!  Zeke is one of our more adventurous eaters.  I think it's because he was only 2 when we arrived here.

One of the things we are required to do in order to keep our VISA to live in Thailand is that we have to leave the country every 90 days.  The cheapest way to do this is to drive 5 hours north through the mountains and cross the border into Myanmar.  This was fun and adventurous at first but has become quite the daunting task now!  The boys do a really great job.  Their favorite part is that we stay at a hotel by the border.  Here they are in the slippers the hotel provided. I'm pretty sure they wore them the entire time we were there and Clay even wore them to bed ;)  In the next couple of months we are planning on applying for a Visa that does not require us to actually leave the country every 90 days, but just check into the immigration office here in Chiang Mai.  PLEASE pray with us that we are able to get this Visa.

 One Saturday morning we decided to try out the aquarium here.  It was quite interesting seeing some of the sea creatures that we have never seen before!  And anywhere you go that has animals, you can feed something.  Here you could feed the fish with a baby bottle!!  Yes, you read that right, a baby bottle! They would come up stick their heads out of the water and suck for a few seconds!  It was quite the experience.

 In July, Rob celebrated his 32nd Birthday!   Also in July Rob and I celebrated our 9th anniversary!

In July, we were blessed to be invited to go to Phuket, Thailand with my sister-in-laws family and parents!  Phuket is on the south of Thailand, on the beach!  This was such a relaxing and fun time for our family.  We have gone through a lot in the past year and were grateful to have this time to refresh and spend some quality time with our family before the kids started school in August.  what a blessing! 

 YAY!  Nina and Pops (my sis-in-laws parents) came to Thailand!  here we are having a Thai dinner in Phuket!


 On August 2nd, our little Zeke turned 3! Oh this boy!  He is a challenge to raise, but the most cuddly, lovable, silly little man!  We love him dearly!  He was sure to tell me exactly what he wanted on his birthday cake, blue icing  (blue is his "favorite" color), m&ms, gummy bears, a car and Pocky sticks (a sign my kids are becoming third-cultured kids, wanting Pocky sticks on his cake!!)

We celebrated with a friend, whose 2nd birthday was the day after Zeke's!  

Well, we had quite the cultural experience when Clay fell in our "yard", which is really just a strip of concrete around our house.  He cried quite a bit when it happened, but it took us 24 hours before we decided that maybe we should go to the hospital to get an x-ray.  It was quite overwhelming to have to deal with a hospital in another culture, but all went well, and come to find out, he had broken his arm.  The only problem came when they decided to only put a splint on it instead of a hard cast.  The ace bandage was falling off the very next day, so after about a week, we decided to return to the hospital to have them put a hard cast on, which they did!  It only takes about 3 weeks (i guess) for a child's bone to heal.  So, get got his cast taken off on Monday.

And here are our two little guys on the first day of school.  Clay is now in kindergarten and Zeke started Pre-K 3!  They are attending an international school here that has students from all around the world!  It is a great school and we are so grateful that our kids have such a wonderful place to attend!  Clay absolutely LOVES it and wants to "sleep there too." Zeke is adjusting.  He is only going 2 days a week (Tues and Fridays) and is getting use to being away from mommy, Zeke is now on his 3rd day and each day seems to get better and better.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Oh the Places You will Go...

I know it's been a long time since I last blogged and for that I apologize.  I honestly wasn't even sure what to write about, and well, I guess I'm still not sure. But here goes...
Life has been stressful lately.  My duration as a mother has consisted solely of being a stay-at-home mom.  I'm not so sure how working moms do it.  Being a stay at home mom is stressful enough.  I guess one of those things I did not really realize is once we moved here, I would become like a part time working mom.  You see, I knew that I was going to be learning Thai, but I guess I was naive to know what all that meant.  Well, it means that I am no longer just a stay-at-home mom, I'm a student of Thai as well.  Finding the balance between the two, without being too stressed is hard.  Not to mention I am a student of the Thai culture, learning how to do things here, cook here, pay bills, you know, relearning all the things I that were second nature back in America. Yeah, so between being a student of the Thai language and a student of Thai culture, I also need to squeeze in being a mom and wife.
There are times when I just want to fast forward my life about 6 months where I (hopefully) will be done with language learning (umm, please do not miss read this as I will be fluent or as I will not continue to be a student of the language, my daily life will not let me forget that I will always being a student of Thai).  In 6 months, BOTH my boys will be in school. (Ugh, not so sure how feel about this one).  And maybe just maybe I will feel more confident in the daily things I need to do here to keep my family going.
You see, I guess lately, I'm just missing the ease of a culture I know and being around people who already have a long history with me.  My mom retired last month.  She has worked full time since I was a little girl.  I hate that we are not there to enjoy her new found freedom.  And last week, my husband's entire family was together, even his sister who lives in Africa was there.  Yeah, everyone, except us.  I have to say that well, that sucked.  Yeah. I've had a few emotional breakdowns lately.
I know from reading all this you must think that I am in this horrible depressed state.  Although there are times when I have been incredibly stressed and although there have been times when missing those we will not see for at least another year has brought me to tears, I must say, I have not been this at peace in my SOUL about where I am in life in a long time.  I wish that I could describe to you in words how at peace I am with being here, but ya see, it's a peace that surpasses all understanding.  So, I simply cannot describe it. Although there are sacrifices that are very hard, somehow, someway, it's ok.
You know, I have days when I can't believe I get to live here in Thailand.  There are days when I am overwhelmingly thankful that we are giving our kids the gift of being a third-cultured kid.  There are days when what we are doing here, is so incredibly satisfying because we know we are right where He wants us to be.
So, please, although there are times when I might complain on Facebook about something that's not as easy as it is in America, or I might say that it sucks to be so far away from family and friends, please, don't feel sorry for me.  Be excited for us, pray for strength in difficult moments, pray that God would continue to give us His peace. Pray that He would lead our steps. And pray for our kids.
Although there are times when I wish those teleport (i'm sure I misspelled that;) type machines you see in TV shows were real so we could all just teleport back home for awhile, I wouldn't want to stay there. At least for now, we are right where we are suppose to be.      

Friday, February 07, 2014

Welcome to Our House...

So, needless to say, our lives have changed drastically since we moved to Thailand in September.  From the food, to driving, to the language, the people, pretty much everything about our daily lives have changed.  In light of this I thought it would be fun to go around our house and show you some of the ways our daily lives have changed.  Before I do, I have a couple things to note...
One, in NO WAY am I writing this to complain about the differences in the way things are done here.  I am sharing this more to help you understand a different culture and a different way of doing things.  Maybe you're like me, and think it's fun to see how different people live their lives, none better than the other, just different.  I love that about cultures! Second, I have to tell you, I feel extremely blessed to have found the house that we did.  I never imagined I would love a house here as much as I loved our house in New Orleans, but really I feel blessed that we have found a beautiful, peaceful place, close to friends and family, and a neighborhood so quiet and calm that we let our 4 year old ride his bike around freely!  Not to mention the house has certain amenities that plenty of houses around here don't have (like a western style kitchen, instead of an outdoor Thai style kitchen) that make our transition to living here just a little bit easier and make things feel more like the homes we are use to!
Without further ado, welcome to our home!
This is how we get hot water.  There is no hot water here in any sinks, but these are installed in the showers so we don't have to take cold showers! It's a bit concerning when you see electric wires so close to your shower head!

There are no closets here.  if you want to hang your clothes, you have to get a wardrobe!

Being that Thailand has LOTS of bugs and that houses are more open here (Our windows and doors are always open, thankfully we do have screens, but plenty of bugs still get in!), the boys have their very own bug zapper/ night light to help keep the mosquito bites to a minimum!

Thailand is a pretty hot place.  There are 3 seasons, cool, hot and rainy.  There is no central air here.  We do have individual conditioning units in the bedroom (thank goodness) but we try to only turn these on at night since electricity is so expensive.  Therefore, we have lots of fans! 

Gone are the days of having a DRYER.  This is one of those things I miss the most, especially when my kids are sick.  Sorry boys, no blankie you just threw up on until the sun can dry it!

All the houses here have fences around the house and big gates.  

A personal change for our family is the lack of yard space.  If you knew our house in New Orleans, we were blessed with a really large yard with plenty of grass.  Now, we have a little strip of concrete that goes around our house and that's it.  No more grass to play in! Though there are some houses that have yards with grass, most are very small.  Let's just say, we have gone through a lot of band-aids since moving here!

These are spirit houses that are in the corner of our front yard.  These are everywhere in Thailand (most houses have one) and though we have asked our landlord if she could take it down, she said she cannot.  We have had to put a barrier of potted plants around them so our kids won't play with them or the things on them.  It's just a daily reminder of why we are here...  

Never go in a house with your shoes on.!  Things are VERY dirty here.  It's really amazing how much dust and dirt there is and how dirty your shoes and feet get.  Most people have a shoe rack outside next to their front door for shoes.  There are even some public places and offices where you are suppose to take your shoes off before entering!  I just always try to remember to check my tennis shoes for anything that might have crawled into them before putting them on!! 

Oh to have a dishwasher again. Only washing dishes my hand here! I'll tell you a secret though, I kinda don't mind this as much.  For some reason I have been finding washing dishes by hand (in cold water mind you, remember, no hot water in the sink) kind-of therapeutic, don't tell my husband though! 

Umm, yes that is a ginormous propane tank in our kitchen just hanging out in it's own cabinet.  Our stove is run by propane from this tank, and when it's empty, there's no warning.  You're in the middle of dinner and all of a sudden the burner goes off.  Yep then you have to call the gas people who bring you another tank on their motorbike side car and hope that it gets there in enough time for you to finish dinner!! 

This is what we affectionately call the ant cabinet.  And yes, it does what it sounds like it does.  Ants are a big problem here.  No more leaving any food on the counter or table or soon it will become a feast for your nearest any colony! You keep all your food in this cabinet, make sure it is not touching the wall or anything else.  then you get these special bowls and put baby powder in them and put the legs in the bowls.  For some reason the ants cannot crawl through the baby powder to eat all our food!
The bowls with baby powder to keep the ants out!

Yeah, we use to be one of those families that just drank the tap water, no more.  Though the water here is safe enough to shower and brush you teeth with (thankfully!) it is not safe enough to drink! Thankfully this nice water cooler keeps the water nice and cold! It's great! The hardest time to remember this is when I am cooking or baking.  Thankfully I have not made a big mistake yet and had to throw out a batch of anything because I forgot and used water from the sink!

I don't know if you can tell or not here, but refrigerators are significantly smaller here than in America (Our fridge now is probably half the size of the one we had in American and we just had a normal size fridge). Though, this really hasn't seemed to be too much of a problem for us. Food doesn't seem to have as many preservatives here as it does in America, so you cannot keep it as long.  The biggest problem is the freezer space, especially because meat even in the fridge goes bad so quickly you really have to keep it in the freezer if you want it to last more than a couple days and not to mention, we love smoothies.  

Well, there you have it!