Monday, June 30, 2008

Back Home

This beautiful cloud welcomed us back to Austin on Saturday evening.

We are back home. Well, we were all back home. Rocky is already off again to LA this time. He'll be at Universal Studios until Friday the 4th working on the films they started before we went to Thailand this summer. It should be a great learning experience, but I have to say the timing was definitely not ideal.

Our travel home went well. It wasn't perfect of course but it was what you'd expect of 33 hours of traveling on 3 different planes with a toddler. Adelaide had her frustrating moments but in general she was a very flexible and happy girl. I'd like to make mention that there was absolutely no vomit on the way home!

I have a new love for the Narita airport where we had a 3 hour layover. The airport is filled with those moving walkways that could entertain a toddler for hours. Adelaide always got off asking for more. They have nurseries complete with cribs, rocking chairs, warm drinking water for bottles, and dim rooms. They also have tons of play areas for kids, and for grown ups they have really cool lounge areas. I've been to this airport I don't know how many times but I got to explore so much. If you've got a long layover, Narita's not a bad place to be. Chicago on the other hand, not so great. I'll skip the details on that boring layover.

We made it back early Saturday morning and were all in bed by 3am. Adelaide was thrilled to be back home. She ran around squealing for about an hour before we made her settle down for bed that morning. In our tired states, we forgot to set an alarm and woke up Saturday at noon! We had to wake Adelaide up. Probably not the most helpful move for getting over jet lag, but it sure felt nice at the time.

The cats missed us alot. Sanook, our finicky cat, couldn't get enough of sitting on our laps and cuddling.

Adelaide's shoe obsession continues. At least it went from chewing on them at 7 months old to putting them on at 15 months.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Train Park

The view from the park.

A friend of ours told us about this great park here in Bangkok and I really wanted to check it out before we headed back to the States. So yesterday when Adelaide woke up grumpy and we wanted to get out of the room, we headed to Suan Rot Fie (Train Park). I have to admit it was one of my favorite mornings since we've been here.

The coolest thing about this park is that you can rent bikes there and ride around the park. They even have bikes with training wheels and bikes with baby seats, so us and the Degarmos were all set. And the best part is that the bikes are only 20 baht a day! That's about 65 cents.

Well the park was beautiful and the weather was pretty cool for Bangkok. There were places to play, open spaces, trees, and lakes. I'd never seen so much green in the city. We rode around and played on playscapes for about an hour and a half. It was so nice and relaxing. I wish I'd discovered this park earlier.

We were actually riding on the bike when I took this picture. It looks Adelaide liked it as much as I did.

Adelaide playing at the playscape.

Special Offer from Luvs

As I mentioned back in the day when I did my diaper review, I love Luvs diapers. My favorites are Pampers, but they are too pricey (unless you double up coupons like I do when I can). So my brand of choice is Luvs. They work just as great but for a much cheaper price.

Anyway, Luvs has teamed up with Anita Renfroe, a Christian comedian famous as a Youtube Phe-mom-enon for her "Mom sense" jingle. I'm not the biggest fan of the song but I'm getting to the point soon. I was going to try to post the song here but Youtube doesn't work that well here in Thailand.

Anita Renfroe has just written a sequel to the famous song. It will be available for download or viewing exclusively on Luvs.com on June 25, but Luvs has authorized me to pass along the new song to you early and to also tell you about a special offer that is going to be available a week from today. Go to Luvs.com on June 25th to receive a $5 off your next purchase of Luvs coupon. The offer is very limited so be sure to go to Luvs.com as soon as you can on the 25th. If you go to HEB and use the $5 coupon and combine it with an in-store coupon (which they have usually once a month or so) the package will be nearly free. I'm bummed I won't be around my computer on the 25th to be my coupon :(.

OK, so here's a sneak peek at the new song by Anita Renfroe:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ayutthaya

Thailand's largest reclining Buddha.

Ayutthaya is the former capitol of Siam and is a place I'd been wanting to visit since we lived here. I recently learned that it's also a UNESCO World Heritage Centre; I think that's a fancy title for "cool place." The only time I'd been before was during Songkran (Thai water wars-- the best holiday ever) so I didn't see alot of the sites. So yesterday we spent the day with our friends Ped, Tik, and Hymn and explored Ayutthaya.

The day started out with lunch at a riverside restaurant. It was delicious. Here's some interesting "traffic" I saw while we ate.
a motorcycle ferry crossing to the other side.

a lady selling homemade beverages off her boat.

a tiny boat pulling three huge barges.

not traffic, but Tik, Hymn, and Ped eating lunch.

After lunch we were driving to one of the temples, and we started seeing elephants on the side of the road. Hymn flipped out she was so excited so we decided to go ride elephants first. You can do some cool stuff for $6 in Thailand.
Here we are riding an elephant. Adelaide loved it. I don't know if she really knew we were on an elephant but she definitely liked being up so high.

Adelaide feeding the elephants after our ride. I think she's got a healthy fear of elephants now instead of the scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs type of fear.

Adelaide and I mesmerized by the free elephant show. I think it's becoming quite clear at least for now who she favors. I used to hear she looked like Rocky all the time, now I hear that she's got my eyes, my nose, and mouth. Well that about covers it.

No, this guy isn't being swallowed by the elephant. He did this willingly. The elephant carried him around like that.

Rocky and I at Wat Chaiwattanarm.

I don't know how many idols surrounded this temple. There was one every 5 feet or so. As I was walking around here I felt so heartbroken for Thais that have been so blinded to think that an idol is actually worthy of worship. This idol is proof of how powerless they are.

This temple like Wat Arun also had a crazy steep staircase. I didn't brave this one since I had climbed Wat Arun. I left his one to Rocky.

At the Reclining Buddha and Wat Chaiwattanarm, we headed to Wat Mahathat. We left our trip to those 3 Wats. The city is seriously covered with them. It would probably take weeks to go through all of them. Adelaide slept in the car with Ped during the first two so she was super excited to get to explore this temple with us. In her opinion temples are best for climbing.


And climbing
And climbing.
And climbing. I didn't think she could climb those steps by the way. She set out to prove me wrong and did so easily. She's been called "ling" (monkey) once or twice recently.


The most famous spot in Wat Mahathat is this image that's been engulfed by this amazing tree. Thais worship this image, but once again I got all spiritual and thought about how even God's creation is more powerful than an image carved by man.

One last shot of Wat Mahathat.


I leave you with Psalm 115:

115:1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.

9 O Israel, [1] trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.

12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the Lord,
both the small and the great.

14 May the Lord give you increase,
you and your children!
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the Lord's heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!



Friday, June 13, 2008

Pics/Videos from this week

Rocky worked alot this week, often missing breakfast, lunch, and dinner with us, and Liza was sick so Adelaide and I spent alot of time together. We went to the aquarium again. Sunday Rocky and I actually had a date though! We took our friends Ped and Tik to dinner at a great cajun restaurant here in Bangkok. It's actually really good cajun food all the way over here. We love going here with Ped so he can relive his college years in Louisiana with us.

Rocky and Ped goofing around at Bourbon St. Restaurant.

Yum. Bananas foster cooked at the table.

My dad got me a pass for the aquarium so it's a good spot for us to go during the day. Our four walls of our room close in on us really early in the morning. Here's some pics and video from Ocean World.

Some elderly lady hopped out of her wheelchair, plopped Adelaide in, and wheeled her around the aquarium for a little while. That blonde hair is a Thai magnet.

Adelaide climbed into this double stroller when she saw the seat available. The mom of course took their pictures too.

Adelaide exploring the aquarium.

Adelaide is quite the climber these days. She loves climbing up slides and then going down. This playscape is also at the aquarium.
video

Here we are making shadows before bed one night. I love that Adelaide is also trying to mimic Rocky's sounds.
video

Warning: This is the coolest riding toy ever. What fun rednecks could have with something like this. Bear down the stairs? Bear in the parking lot? Bear in the elevator? For 10 baht this thing drove around for over 2 minutes. It has forward and reverse and steering. Oh yeah.
video

New words this week: Brown Bear (as in the Brown Bear book), truck. . . I know there are more but I can't think of them right now. It will come to me later.
New skills:
fixing things. She intuitively knows how things go together and how to "fix" things. Today she fixed a toy golf putter that was broken. Then she laid the "hole" on the ground and attached the flag on her own. I didn't even put together that the flag attached that way. I don't know how she figures things like this out. Where does she get that from? Uncle Mike?
cleaning things. She really likes to get a wet washcloth and clean things. Where did she get that from? Rocky?
sorting things. Adelaide likes having things in their proper place. She loves putting her toys in her toybox. She loves putting trash in the trashcan. She loves putting her "tools' in the "toolbag." Where does she get that from? Me?
spinning. Adelaide loves it when I pick her up under the arms and spin around. She laughs and laughs and laughs. Today she got so mad when I stopped spinning her to spin other kiddos.

More next week. Miss and love you all.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Plethra of Videos

One little upgrade of my Quicktime and now I can finally upload videos! These are from the last few weeks. Enjoy!

Here's Adelaide enjoying the beach in Krabi for the first time:


I only blew up this raft three times before this and I didn't think Adelaide was paying attention, but obviously she was. She started "blowing it up" all on her own so I grabbed the camera. It's amazing how fast she catches on these days.


Adelaide loves to give kisses especially when she's tired. Here she is during one of her kissing sessions.


Here's Adelaide saying one of her new words:


On our way to the temples we saw this guy. Adelaide was totally entertained by him:

Temple Tour


Today after getting back from my dad's house, we met up with the team to do what I'm calling our "temple tour." We went to the Grand Palace with the Emerald Buddha and to Wat Arun, a famous temple in Bangkok I'd never actually been to. It was great fun. It was an extremely hot day, the hottest since we've been here, but it was beautiful. Visiting temples always brings out a mix of emotions in me. There are so many intricate details and really cool things to see, but it's also so sad to see people bowing dow before idols. When you think of it, pray for Thailand.

above and below: Adelaide on the lawn at the Grand Palace. We didn't actually go in. We've been there about 5 or 6 times now and the 250 baht (8 dollar) price tag per person seemed a bit too high.

Me and Adelaide on a water taxi crossing the Chao Praya river to Wat Arun. I'm sportin' my new sunglasses I bought off the street on the way to the boat for $1! The water taxi was 10 cents which was awesome. :
A cool shot of a monk on the water taxi with us to Wat Arun:

One of the many buildings at Wat Arun (temple of the dawn):

Notice all the roofs have what look like horns on the corners. Those are supposed to prevent spirits from going inside:

A random flower photo:

Me and Libby at the top of Wat Arun. We had to climb 3 sets of ungodly steep stairs to get up there. You can see the Chao Praya river and Bangkok in the background:

Those crazy stairs I was talking about:

Most Thai males are monks at some point. Here's 2 kid monks:

Wat Arun is mostly made out of pieces of China. It makes each section of the temple unique:

The team (sans me) L to R sorta: Rocky, Chris, Liza, Isabella (4), Adelaide, Zach (2), Andrew, Libby, and Matt.

Family


My Dad is Thai. I'm sure most of you know that. That makes me a Lou Krung Thai Amerigaa (that means half Thai/ Amerian). I'm writing all my Thai words is "karaoke" BTW. That's how Thais refer to words spelled as they sound into English. Anyway, my dad is here but only 'til the beginning of next week so we had a limited amount of time to hang out and let Adelaide meet all her aunts and uncles. Rocky took off work yesterday to come with me and introduce our sweet girl to her Thai family.

Well, that sounds easy enough but looking back on our day yesterday not too much was easy about it. (Adelaide is almost good as new by the way and that's without any medicine. She must have just gotten a horrible virus that just needed to run its course. She had a slight rash on her back which hinted at that.) My dad lives about 45 minutes away from where we are and that's without traffic so we had a little bit of a hard time finding a taxi that was willing to drive us. We finally found one though and were on our way. We were making decent time and were about 5 minutes away from the mall we were meeting my dad when Adelaide began to ouawk (the thai word and a onimonapea for vomit). Yes, my kid has a vomiting problem. She does it somewhat frequently for no apparent reason. It doesn't seem to bother her but it gets old real fast.

Of course I have an extra outfit for Adelaide packed with us, but I have no extra clothes for Rocky who seems to always "catch" Adelaide's vomit. So I awkwardly change Adelaide in the taxi and Rocky wipes off best he can. We get out of the taxi and Rocky just goes to sit down outside. He is covered with puke-- shirt, shorts, even underwear. I set off inside to meet my dad and to find Rocky something to wear. Anything to wear really. It's not always easy to find "falang" (thai word for foreigner) sizes.

Luckily my dad had seen a sale in the mall earlier so we just went there and they happened to have stuff to fit. Awesome. Luckily my dad has his own car here now so we didn't have to torture another taxi driver or bus load of people with the stench that was growing from Rocky's clothes.

Back at my dad's house Rocky changed, showered, and we laundered the clothes. OK, so things are looking good again. We headed to one of my uncle's houses and we had a great time there as well. Adelaide was on her best behavior, and she even gave a high five, a wai (the thai goodbye), a wave, and blew a kiss goodbye to him. Afterwards she took a decent nap at my dad's house without putting up a bit of a fight.

Things didn't stay that smooth however. Adelaide was grumpy when she woke up and wasn't too nice to her aunt and other uncle. She was whiny and stomping her feet. The whininess continued on to dinner. It was not the impression I wanted to leave my dad's family with. What can you do though?

Well, the food at dinner was good, nice and spicy. I can handle my fair share of spiciness but when I bit into some veggies I knew something wasn't quite right. The spice was so overwhelming I couldn't think about anything else. I ate rice. I drank water, but nothing seemed to help. Adelaide was going crazy, but I couldn't deal with her. That's when I looked down and noticed I had eaten a rat sh*t pepper (that's what it's called here). The veggie dish was filled with them. It was in no way enjoyable. It was pain.

After dinner and bringing my aunt home, it was already 8:10pm and Adelaide was delirious. I don't think any car ride would have been more frustrating (luckily vomit didn't make another appearance). My dad didn't know how to get us home and no taxi would take us that far that late at night. So we decided to stay the night with my dad. We didn't have anything-- PJs, toothbrushes, saline, etc, but it was fine once we made the decision. He and his girlfriend graciously gave us their room and we had a good night's sleep.

Above is a picture of my dad and his 3 siblings.

To Top off a Good Evening

We have had lots of adventures over the past few days and even though I'm wiped, I just wanted to update real quick while Adelaide is napping.

Thursday evening after Rocky got off work, our good friend P'Din took us and the team to the Khao Mon Gai (a yummy dish of chicken and gingery oily rice) place near where we used to live. Well, it was closed as it is about half the time we try to go there. They are just open until they sell everything they've made for the day. I have to say I wasn't too disappointed though because that meant we'd go to P'Din's favorite restaurant. We'd only been there once with him before but I remember that we absolutely loved it. I was right and we loved it again.

The part of town the restaurant is in doesn't get alot of tourists which is understandable because this place is the epitomy of a hole in the wall. The restaurant basically consisted of a bunch of tables with stools along and in the street. It was worth the risk of getting hit by a motorcycle though. The food was so good!

That wasn't the end of the greatness though. As we were finishing up dinner, we look up and see an elephant! Yep, an elephant walking down the street. Now we've experienced this before but it's not commonplace enough for us not to get excited. Adelaide was not quite as excited. She was scared. Looking back maybe we shouldn't have just rushed up to it. She seemed freaked out that first of all, it was so big, and then second of all, that its nose was also an arm. She pretty much clung to Rocky the entire time.


After dinner and hanging out with the elephant, we walked to a market. Adelaide was showered with attention there. She is everywhere here but she was given fruit, flowers, and had her picture taken I don't know how many times. She was such a trooper through it all and smiled through it all (except when she had a staple poking her the neck in the picture below).

At the market we got loads of khao naow ma muang (mango and sticky rice) to share with the team. Then we piled in P'Din's VW van for the trip back home. Ah, this is what I love about Thailand.

Here's a couple more pics from the market:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Word Explosion

It's pretty funny to think about how much Adelaide's vocabulary has grown over the past couple of months. I've been having a hard time uploading video or I'd post a few videos of some of her new words and phrases. I've got 1 to successfully upload of her new phrase (and my favorite)-- thank you. Unfortunately the one that uploaded was on a night when she was fussy.


Alright, so are you ready for the list of her new words? It's amazing if I do say so myself. What's even more amazing is seeing her use the words in the appropriate context on her own. Like saying "hot" when she's eating something warm or saying "thank you" when she gets something she wants. Today I even pointed to a picture of a flower that we'd never looked at before and asked what it was. It was a overjoyed mom when she responded with "flower."

OK, here we go:
hat
whee
please
want to get down
want to get up
up
No! (in response to any question we throw out there. we love asking Adelaide things like "is Daddy your favorite parent?" or "would you like a gold brick?")
yeah
wet
book
sit down
turtle (which she plays with often at the CCC office here)
baa (the thai word for let's go)
thank you
nana (for banana)
beep
flower
bunny
baby (referring to herself)
shoes
gentle
night night

She's also "writing" on the magna doodle alot these days and will use her hands to ask questions like "where." She's gotten good at matching things like these play fruits we got her. She's still climbing on everything and has even started trying to climb the Degarmos bunk bed ladder.

Finally. Adventures in Bangkok

This past week has been our first real week in Bangkok. The first week doesn't count in mind. It was such a blur with jet lag and all. So we've been spending all our free time falling back in love with the city (oh, and also remembering all the things we'd blocked out).

Wednesday night was our first night on the town. We went out to dinner at a local mall and went to watch a movie. Watching movies is a rarity in America for us it seems but here I love to watch them even more. The seats are cheaper and nicer and concessions are way better and cheaper too. We watched Indiana Jones which I couldn't rave about as much as the theaters.

Thursday we visited NightLight, a ministry we'll talk about in another post, and then had our first crazy Bangkok experience. A teammate Matt got a stomach infection last week and was hospitalized for several days. We went to visit him on Thursday night. Well, it was good to see him. Afterwards is when the craziness began. First of all it was raining. Then we noticed traffic was at a total stand still. So we decide to hop on the skytrain and take it to the stop nearest to our place so we can avoid all waiting. Well that didn't exactly work out as planned.

When we got off at the Ari station, no taxis would let us in. Some would drive up to us, stop, let us open the door, and then they'd take off again. We weren't the only ones having this experience. Tons of people were standing on the side of the road waiting too. A sweet Thai lady offered to help us but didn't have any luck either. She called the taxi headquarters and they said they weren't accepting calls. Weird. And remember it's raining and it's way past Adelaide's bedtime.

Finally we decide to fork up the dough and suffer through a rainy ride and take a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk is a motorcycle converted to a 3 wheeled open air taxi of sorts. It's funny how just a few weeks ago I was worried about Adelaide not having a car seat and now I'm putting her on tuk-tuks in the rain. Anyway, we weren't alone either. Libby and Andrew were with us so we had to fit 4 adults and Adelaide in this thing.

It was awesome. The rain didn't come in that much miraculously but made it a nice cool ride. Rocky had to sit at our feet for us to all fit and he said his butt nearly caught fire, but it was so much fun. Adelaide was a trooper through it all and didn't complain even though she didn't make it to bed until 10pm. Below is a picture of us all in the tuk tuk sitting in traffic.

Saturday was our first real weekend in town so of course I had to take everyone to Chatujak Weekend Market. Rocky didn't take Adelaide with us. It's already hot in Thailand and being in the crowded rows of the market can send any world traveler over the edge at times, so he and Chris took the kids to the Bangkok Children's Discovery Museum (or that was the plan anyway). The museum was closed when they got there but that didn't mean the kids didn't have fun. All the outdoor equipment was open and free so they played there for awhile. It's amazing how big Adelaide is these days. She could play on the see saw and sort of hang with the big kids.




Saturday night was spent with Ped, our long time friend that we met while at Louisiana Tech, and his wife Tik. They just got approved for their first house last week and they'll be moving in while we're here. They've been living with Ped's parents since they were married so they are extremely excited. We went to go see their house and to eat dinner. Their house is alot like ours-- suburban, new, small, cute.

Afterwards we went out to dinner at this amazing Italian restaurant in Ped's neighborhood. They have a nice wood fired oven that entertained Adelaide for awhile. The food was great. I had one of my favorite things-- insalata caprese. Yum.

Sunday I stayed back while Rocky and the team went to church. Adelaide was a little fussy when she woke up. For lunch that day they went to eat at the best restaurant in all of Thailand, Mel's. I was so jealous. I asked them to bring me something back but the cold soggy take home meal was just not as good. That evening was Isabella Degarmo's birthday. We all joined her to celebrate at McDonald's (Adelaide is beginning to love McDonald's like all kids do. She loves the "chic sticks" here) and for a party at the CCC office.

That brings us to Monday which started out great. We met my dad and his girlfriend at Siam Paragon, the largest mall in Thailand, for lunch and to go to the aquarium. The aquarium was very fun. My dad actually bought us a pass so we can go back as much as we'd like for the next few weeks. I think that will be a fun thing to do to get out of our cramped room while Rocky's working.

Anyway, on our way home from the mall I noticed Adelaide felt a little warm, well alot warm. She seemed exhausted and fell asleep in my arms in the taxi. So when we got home I checked her temperature. It was 103.5! At that point Adelaide was just totally lethargic. She's lay down and fall in and out of sleep for hours. Even with Motrin her temperature wouldn't really go down. We called our pediatrician in America and he suggested that we wait it out and see how she did.

Well, she did OK. She threw up once and was generally exhausted (above is our exhausted, sick, little girl resting with her dad) but slept a decent amount that night. When she woke up we checked her temperature again and it was 103.6. At that point (after conferring with our SOS insurance doctors and our pediatrician) we decided to bring Adelaide to the doctor.

The doctor was one that the SOS clinic recommended. He studied in the US but he definitely wasn't an American doctor. He had the nurse restrain Adelaide's arms and head so he could check her out. I've never heard her scream so loudly. She was angry. I don't know how he saw anything honestly. Adelaide was kicking him so hard. And I don't know how much I trust his diagnosis of a sore throat. That's it. That's all he said was wrong with her. He said her throat was red because of post nasal drip and that's it. Well, I don't know how many times Adelaide's had a sore throat from post nasal drip and she never complained that badly, was that exhausted, or had such an extreme fever.

He went on to order the entire pharmacy worth of drugs for me-- a decongestant, a medicine for coughing and sore throat, an antibiotic, tylenol, motrin. . . I knew I wasn't going to give Adelaide most of the stuff but we're in a different culture, one that doesn't challenge authority, so I just went with it. The drugs were ready for me by the time I got to the check out counter (a feature I wouldn't mind if America had). Total everything was $56. Not too bad considering they didn't take my insurance and I got 5 bottles of drugs out of the deal.

Anyway, Adelaide is feeling much much better today. She still looks like someone punched her in one of her eyes (I don't know what caused that), but she is playing. She is eating a little bit. She is not nearly as exhausted. My pediatrician in America told me to hold off on all the drugs right now since she's making such good progress on her own. I still don't know what really happened but I'm so glad she's more like herself today.

Anyway, that's our week in review.