If You Were To Ask Me

If you see me around, I hope you don't see anything to be concerned about. There's not much reason for me to not be smiling. I feel full of hope, energy, and most of the time motivation. There are some major events coming up, including my husband coming home for a few weeks, a major exam or two, a beach getaway, and of course my first half marathon. Finally.

These are pretty much the fuel I am using to get through each day. If you add that with the love and companionship of my boys, my friends, and my family, you can be sure that I will get through this. But its not always easy.

If you were to guess that is not the entire story, you would be correct.

If you were to ask me what is on my mind I would tell you I'm frustrated and worried. We have only half a year left in Thailand, and don't know where we are going next. We submitted our "wish list" back in August, and watched some of our favorite spots drop from the list week by week. And still no word for us. But I am trying to be patient and flexible. It isn't easy though, when you are anticipating moving a family, dog, all your posessions and career to a completely different country. There are questions about renting a house, buying a car, locating schools, locating job openings. Imagine doing that every three years, and not until about a month or two before you actually move. Yuh.

If you were to ask me what is on my mind I would tell you I'm a little heartsick. Both my boys are doing well in school, but both get frustrated easily and lash out. I call it the "mountains out of molehills" effect, because most of the time they are just fine. They make friends. They're happy. They are always in good moods at home. However, if someone cuts in front of them, bumps into their table, you name it-they lose their cool. But only at school. I wish they could tell me why. I wish I could help them, but I can't be there all the time. I wish I knew what leads to this negativity and anger, but I do the best I can to support them and work with them.

If you were to ask me what is on my mind, and have a little more time to spare, I would tell you I'm nervous. Two years of an unaccompanied tour is something challenging to adjust from. I build walls when my husband is gone so I can cope. Some people let their feelings flow, but I just cant do that. So I embrace having that "stiff upper lip" and soldier on until we are through. The walls have to come down though, when he returns to us, and thats hard. Its good at the same time. Yet, its not always smooth, and sometimes you worry if you have any feelings left at all.

In the end, I would tell you that this is all alright. We chose this, and I would rather have these challenges and always have the unknown twist around the next corner. We are fortunate, and as tough as I get inside, I never stop thinking that. I'm lucky to have such a wonderful life and such loving family.

It's All About The Tunes

Pardon me while I humblebrag, but there are just three days, one class, and a crazy 12K between me and this:

To get there is going to require a little bit of mental fortitude and some great tunes, so I'm going to share with you my latest run compilation, guaranteed to keep you running, and with a big smile on your face. Enjoy!

1. Player (feat. Chris Brown) -Tinashe
2. Secrets (Radio Edit) - Tiesto & KSHMR
3. Last Chance - Kaskade & Project 46
4. Five More Hours - Deorro & Chris Brown
5. Headlights (feat. Ilsey) - Robin Schultz
6. Can't Stop Playing - Dr. Kucho! & Gregor Salto
7. The Veldt (radio edit) - Deadmau5
8. Help Our Souls (Urban Contact Remix) - Nihils
9. Language - Porter Robinson
10. Dancing In My Head (Tom Hangs Remix) -Eric Turner & Avicii
11. On My Way -Axwell Ingrosso
12. Zonk -Dimitri Vangelis & Wyman
13. Levels -Avicii
14. King -Years & Years
15. Hello -Martin Solveig & Dragonette
16. SLVR -Steve Angello & Sadko
17. Love Myself -Hailee Steinfeld
18. Fun -Pitbull
19. Lean On -Major Lazer

Pumpkin Everything

A few people asked for my recipes for the snacks I've been creating for the kids. Some have been good- some not so good! I'm worried that the real reason my boys ate these up is the fact that they were very sweet, so I recommend that when you add the agave syrup, start with 1/4 cup and add more when you stir in the millet and oats if you think it's needed. I also suggest you cut these smaller than your supermarket variety granola bars! There's a lot packed into these sweeties.

Pumpkin Spice Bars

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (all natural is best)
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can pumpkin purée
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 cups puffed millet (or base grain of your choice)
1 cup rolled oats
1\2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp chia seeds
1\2 cup white or dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350*.

Butter the bottom of a 10X10 baking dish

In a microwave-safe bowl combine the peanut butter, agave syrup, salt and vanilla extract. Microwave on High for about 1 1/2 minutes. When you take it out, give it a good stir!

Pour your can of pumpkin purée in and the remainder of spices while it is still bubbling hot and mix well.

In a larger bowl combine all the remaining ingredients.

Pour your pumpkin mixture over the wheat and millet and stir throughout. If it's a bit squishy, add more oats until your batter becomes pretty thick. Press it into your baking pan to about 1/2 inch thickness or whatever you prefer and bake in the over for 20-25 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool. If it's not firm enough to cut, chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Cut, wrap or just enjoy!

Celebrating Songkran in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai was a lot of fun during Songkran. We did the whole supersoaker-waterfest in the old city for a day, and decided after that we would fill our trip with some sightseeing. Having lived in Thailand for almost two years, we knew it would be pretty easy to find a driver with a minivan who could take us around to the typical tourist destinations for pretty cheap. I just asked a few friends who had been there over the past year, and they were all glad to share the contact information for their drivers. So, the next day we piled into "Mr. Su"s van, and set of for Doi Inthanon and Wat Inthanon, perched at the top of the highest peak in northern Thailand. The weather was gorgeous, and the drive was pretty exciting thanks to the people on the side of the road still throwing water at cars, but when we got to the top you couldn't see far. I guess they burn brush and clear property by fire, so the smoke spreads from afar and gives the sky a pretty thick haze.

It didn't matter, except we all became a little congested. Wat Inthanon has gorgeous gardens to ramble around, and afterwards little Nate strolled quietly into the temple on his own, kneeled down, and prayed to Buddha very respectfully. He still doesn't understand what he's doing. Or does he?

We stopped by a waterfall for a lunch break, and later stopped by a roadside stand for some fresh fruit- it was an easy, rambling day. We also stopped by the "long-neck village" which wasn't what I wanted at all, but oh well-I think Mr. Su was just trying to make us happy. Unfortunately, the karen tribe tourist stop isn't really our thing. I actually had a village that I had asked him to take us to: one which didn't have any souvenir shops or an entry fee, just villagers going about their farming, weaving, cooking, etc. Our driver must have thought his idea was better for us. Oh well...

We also spent an few hours the next day on a shopping trip, so I could pick up a few baubles, some hand-painted umbrellas, and some real Thai silk. The silk shop was our favorite, because they boys could actually see the life cycle of the silk worm up close, all the way to seeing them boil the cocoons and spin the thread out of them. 

Then we followed the advice of a fellow employee and headed over to the Chiangmai Night Safari. What an adventure! We first stopped for a quick bite to eat outside the gate at the restaurant, where you could watch the tigers, giraffes and zebras right next to your table! In the park you could go on two rides through the animal exhibits, buy carrots and bananas to toss to them, and sometimes even feed them directly from your hand! Once or twice Nate snuggled close, when we passed the more ferocious creatures, but most of the ride was a lot of fun. After zooming through the park in the dark, feeding animals, and watching a phenominal water fountain/light show, we had to return to the giraffes and say some heartfelt goodbyes:

It was also fantastic staying at the Centara, as always. Their boutique hotel on the outskirts of Chiangmai was gorgeous, well-kept, and had great staff there to help us. Our villa was incredible, with room for both the boys and a canopy bed for us, and of course the GIANT jacuzzi tub outside, that we used every day to scrub the dust and dirt off after our treks. I'm just at that point right now where if we must travel, its worth spending a little extra to not be cramped, but instead be just a teensy bit pampered. And have enough room to stash our purchases....

Living the Life, and Loving It

Dear friends, have you missed me? It has been so long since I've shared our adventures, and the past two months have been full of them: events, holidays, trips and parties. There have been so many times where I wanted to write about our life in Bangkok, talk about the nights on the town, and the great people we meet, but it felt too much like bragging. Would you even believe me anyways? Or would you grow disgusted and think me an image-crafter with my "look at our marvelous life" posts? I don't like to sulk, wallow, or depress you with the bad days, but if you don't know me very well perhaps you would misunderstand. So, maybe we have had some bad days, some mysterious fevers and anxious visits to the med unit. There have been fights and squabbling, grownup and children alike. And there are the day to day things you know we all have: the bills to be paid, the car breaking down, the trials and tribulations of an ordinary family.
Its all there, no need to waste your time. We've been through some challenges lately, but all that matters is we are just fine. No need to drive you crazy with any "look at my marvelous life" posts as well. This post is nothing like that. Let me take you somewhere in the middle, just a step above an ordinary day. "A step above" I say simply because if it were ordinary, we would be back in Plymouth, or perhaps watching the swan boats in Boston, instead of speeding boats on the khlong. That was little P a few weeks ago, on our way back from jiu-jitsu. I'm never sure what is more amusing; the look on his face as he waves to the passengers, or the look on theirs when they see a cute little boy trying to get their attention. People here are just. so. nice. to kids. So, for me, that still feels unusual sometimes.
And then there's my honey, striking a pose with one of our best friends here. She helped him throw me a 50's-themed birthday party. It was adorable. Is it normal to have such great friends? I don't know, but we've met people I love so much its going to be hard to let them go. So, I suppose that is a step above the ordinary. I guess I didn't think enough upon that fact that we would say goodbye to the friends we make every 2-3 years. It sure does make you appreciate them so much more.

A few weeks later we celebrated Easter at the Embassy, with a big party and egg hunt. I'm extremely grateful that both boys are well past the "mortally terrified of Santa and the Easter Bunny" stage. No, Nate wanted to go home and come back in his Nemo fish getup, just to keep Mr. Bunny company. He's cool like that. I should have mentioned earlier that he underwent several costume changes at my birthday as well. Nemo-dragon-and back to Nemo. The kid has style.

Definitely not normal for us is the annual Songkran holiday they have in Thailand every year. Its the Thai New Year, and the tradition started with people washing the hands of their elders and buddha statues out of respect, and snowballed into an all-out, no-holds-barred, with blocks of ice waterfight. This year we went to Chiang Mai to see how they celebrate, and it was insane. The roads were like a guantlet, with people packed onto the backs of pickup trucks, armed with supersoakers and buckets of ice water, and the sidewalks lined with people too. Philip totally got into it. Nate, not so much.

So we escaped for a day to Doi Inthanon National Park, hiked, saw waterfalls, and tried to stay cool.  

What Does The Bear Say?

The bear says "Happy Birthday, P" of course. And then our happy campers tie-dyed shirts, shot arrows at a target, ate trail mix, and did all those things that little campers do. That is how we celebrated a 7th birthday. We kept it small this time too. A mom could go crazy thrying to throw monstrous birthday bashes every year, so I asked myself what would make my little man happy and felt that he would love just a day of fun with some close friends.

The snacks: a make-your-own trail mix bar
We threw in a man in a bear costume, just because.

I'll nap right here mom.
He read a story by the "campfire."

Party favors.

The boys played in temporary tents that we made for the occasion. Which we later dismantled, much to their disappointment. There may be a teepee in our future.

That bear didn't stand a chance.

My kids have the most fantastic dad ever.

This Is Not Singapore

This is not the best of Singapore, but its the best I could do. In December we spent almost two weeks driving through New Zealand, then left behind our lovely RV and headed to Singapore.

It was Christmas Eve.
We wore our Santa hats on the plane. We checked into a lovely hotel close to Orchard Road and prepared our stockings for Santa.

I wish I had better pictures to share, but we had to switch gears and enjoy modern spectacles and man-made wonders after two weeks of majestic and unspoilt nature. The city was so dazzling, clean, and uncrowded I didn't know where to look. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the Garden on the Bay, the "Merlion!"

The Universal Studios amusement park.

The boys rode terrifying rides (with some reassurance from us at first) and then asked for more. We went to EVERY show. Philip even volunteered to stand in front of a hundred or so people and chat with Donkey at the comedy show. Nate followed immediately behind, and Donkey exclaimed "I thought I was seeing double!"

We spent an entire day roaming the botanical gardens, where we visited the Orchid Garden and finlly stumbled our way onto the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden. I SO wish Bangkok had a place like this. There was a playground, a maze, a sensory garden, treehouse, exhibits and more. It reminded me of the Heritage Gardens we used to frequent back on Cape Cod.

Our time in Singapore was brief, but so eye opening. And it would be so different from the places we are sent to live someday: the wealth was so apparent that the boys could count the high-end sports cars racing by them every minute. But my favorite trait of Singapore was the amount of green space within the city. It was a city for walking and roaming on foot, for lunching on the grass and stopping to smell the flowers. I would absolutely love an assignment here someday.

But our adventures weren't over yet. One more stop before landing back in Bangkok: