Monday, June 14, 2010
At noon, I decided that enough was enough and got the kiddos out of bed, and scurried them to the door to leave, only to find that my phone and wallet had been taken by Aaron in his backpack. I couldn't even call him with the girls' phone because their phone was completely out of minutes. I had absolutely no money and my debit cards were locked up in the safe that we had tried in vain to open. After waiting about 30 minutes for the hotel staff to open the safe with a key, we were out the door, lugging two carry on's full of dirty clothes. Ahhhh, what a pain. No laundry machine here with us. In Egypt, our clothes may have gotten dusty or dirty, but they didn't generally smell bad, as it was so dry, that we never had the chance to perspire and stink up the clothing. NOT SO in Thailand. All of our dirty clothes were not only dirty, but horrifically smelly. Especially Ike's socks. There is a special kind of funk that hangs on his clothing. In short, we had to get it out of our small hotel room and to a cleaner's.
I had assumed that laundry, like so many other things in Thailand would be cheap. Not so much, really. The laundress did give us a good deal, doing all of the socks and kiddie underwear for free, and discounting the per-piece rate to 10 baht each, but when you are dealing with our kind of quantity, it adds up. Ok, enough with the detour about laundry...
So, after leaving the laundry with high hopes (that she would find all of the food stains on my shirts...I need to get shirts that hide food splatter,) we set off to eat. We had not prepared ourselves for the no-breakfast-buffet part of our hotel reservation, and were completely without food in the hotel. Not a problem, as food is omnipresent in this part of town. The problem is logistics. Emma likes gyoza from one side street. Maddie prefers fresh fruit. Ike likes spring rolls, and Eli Pad Thai. All from different vendors. Not a problem, we just meander from place to place, picking up our preferred treats. Sadly, the food vendor placement seems to be transitory. Some of my favorite guys selling yummies have not been in the places that I remember them. It is really hit and miss. I was soooo looking forward to some of the coconut pancakes.
After extracting some cash, and having the very helpful 7-11 employee refill my SIM card in the mobile,we flagged down a flourescent pink taxi to take us to the Funarium. First taxi driver decides he doesn't like the looks of my hand-drawn map, second taxi driver keeps pointing to my belly and saying what I *think* was "full." I'm not even going to attempt to decipher what that meant...Third time was a charm and away we went! 20 minutes later (and less than $3 in fare!) we arrived at our destination only to have Aaron call to see if we were done with our adventure and would we like to join him...not really was our answer. The kids played at the Funarium for a few hours. I shall not bore you with details. It was an indoor play place with a bike track, adventure course, art class, sand pit, etc. The interesting part was how Emma latched onto some adorable British child and became fast friends, pleading with me to allow them to play together. Wasn't in the stars, apparently, as the girl was heading out to England tomorrow. But, deducing that the girl's nanny who had accompanied her would be without a charge for the next month or so got me thinking...Hey! I certainly don't want that poor lady to be bored for the next month...I'll ask her if she wants to do some side work and help me out with my little darlings. What chutzpah! I did it. I asked her, she was willing, but had to talk to the "Madame." Well, I called the madame, and tried not to sound like a nanny-stealer (They exist!) I gave her my email, but suprisingly, haven't heard from her.
Post Funarium we headed to the Carrefour and ate all manner of delicacies in the food court before heading up to the main store. I love how we were able to shop at a store that had overstock clothing from the US. I'm sure that the residents of Bangkok will be falling all over themselves and each other to buy the winter fleece pyjamas and SIZE XXL sweatpants. The first taxi I hailed wouldn't take us because we were headed in the wrong direction, and after crossing the very busy road, we found a super nice big taxi with strong air conditioning. Bliss. Until I realized that the meter wasn't running. I politely (and even using a little of my Thai language skills) asked him to use the meter instead of charging a flat rate, he disagreed, pulled over and dropped us off. I was actually kicked out of a taxi. Weird. Moments later we were on our way again with a new, improved taxi driver.
Next onto the evening market Suan Lum. So many beautiful things. As a non-shopper, I kept thinking to myself: "If only they could consolidate all of this stuff into just a few stores with unique items, instead of every tenth store carrying the same thing. There are really only 10 unique varieties of stall, and they are all just variations on those themes. Still, it is fun to look around and see the wonders of the Orient, from the mundane to the truly sublime pieces of art and furniture we found in a back section.
Aaron arranged for all six of us to get a 15 minute session in the Doctor fish aquarium. We each lowered in our legs and hands and had tiny little toothless carp dine on our dead skin. The sensation was terribly ticklish, and not unpleasant, once I got used to the feeling of being sucked on by dozens and dozens of the little critters. We finished up with a leg and foot massage. The family that pampers together, stays together seems to be Aaron's motto for tonight.
We finished up with the obligatory smoothie run and off to the hotel for us, and Aaron and Maddie to a movie for a daddy-daughter date. Lest anyone mistakenly think that our children act like little saints all the time, you should know that Emma, Eli and Ike had their night-time swimming trip to the roof cancelled due to annoying behavior in the taxi. They are still kids.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
More coming soon!
Send me any questions you have about living overseas with five kids!
Friday, May 23, 2008
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Emma just turned 7. She wanted a big fun party done the Uruguayan way. Aaron and I were happy to oblige, as this would be a once-in-a-lifetime event for her. The Uruguayans really know how to do a party. There are lots of party houses throughout the city. The one we chose, Manzana Verde is a converted house that we actually considered renting before we found our home. Emma was able to have a great time with her friends, and Aaron and I didn’t have to worry about any of the planning, set up, decorations, cake, entertainment, etc. Following is a list to give an idea of how it went:
4 Party helpers
1 Director of the business
1 Owner of the business
1 Mozo (waiter)
1 Asador (guy who cooks all of the meat/vegetables on the parilla)
1 Kid who came to the wrong party
3 Number of times they sang “Happy Birthday”
1 Number of times “Happy Birthday” was sung in “dog language (bow wow wow)”
3 Times the candles were lit and blown out
40 Pounds of meat brought for the asado (barbque)
4 Pounds of masa finas for the adults (fine small pastries)
3 Layers of dulce de leche on Emma’s birthday cake
1 Chica mala (bad girl) who attended the party
4 Dramatic scenes between the 7 year olds
0 Number of times anyone got bitten
2 Caplets of Extra Strength Tylenol taken by me before the party
50 Percentage of goodies in goody bag that made an obnoxious noise
3 Mothers who were annoyed by noise-making toys
2 Meltdowns by our 21 month old
1 Happy Birthday girl
2 Very satisfied parents
Monday, September 3, 2007
How the Uruguayans can tell we're not natives
*My funky rubber Airwalk shoes. They just don’t understand…
*The cool stroller that seats two children—totally an unknown quantity here.
*The way we AREN’T as bundled up as every other Uruguayan
*The backpack-leash contraption that we sometime use for Elijah—honestly, the Uruguayans are very perplexed about this one.
*We are sometimes in a hurry (some habits die hard, or don’t die at all)
*Two of my girls have comparably short hair (All, and I really mean ALL Uruguayan girls have long hair)
We’ve worked so hard to learn Uruguayan culture and speak Spanish and “fit in” here, but we are Americans, and despite our best efforts, people can tell that we aren’t from these parts. It’s not a problem, I’m happy to be what I am, but I think it is so funny to see and hear people’s reactions when they realize we’re extranjeros (foreigners). We constantly get comments and can see people discussing our presence. For them, it isn’t rude to talk about someone when they are right there, the way it would be in the US. So I chuckle along as I hear them making comments about our strange stroller or how weird it is that our rambunctious 3 year old is sometimes in a leash…even though it is a very cool one!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Fast forward nine months, and all of us regularly go to see movies in Spanish, and understand them. Granted, we’re talking about movies like “Ratatouille” and “Shrek 3,” but we’ve come so very far in our comprehension of the language. It is like we can document our progress in learning Spanish by how much we understood each movie we’ve seen.
When we were preparing for our trip to Uruguay, we started going to a church that spoke Spanish so we could start getting the kids used to the sound of rhythms of the language. I asked the mothers (who were all immigrants) how their kids learned English and over and over I got the answer that the kids learned by watching American TV and also by going to school and just getting thrown into learning. I guess that is the definition of “total immersion” learning. I asked the kids myself, to see what they thought, and they all had the same answer, it was watching TV, movies and going to school.
We signed up for cable when we got here, and I let the kids watch the Discovery Kids channel for much more time per day than I would have ever allowed at home. The programming was aimed at kids, was inoffensive and somewhat educational. Let me tell you what! It has worked. The kids can communicate, and they had a little lead time of hearing and learning Spanish before they started school. Watching movies in Spanish was another way to get them to absorb the language.
I really really love both of these penguin movies. I love them even more because my kids, who only spoke English nine months ago, can laugh right along side me as we watch them in Spanish.