Monday, November 28, 2011

Thaan 'aahaan...

If there's something the Thai people do really well, its food.  They sure know how to whip up some tasty dishes.  One of the local food markets is just a 10-15 minute bike ride from our house, so it makes for a nice, easy meal when we don't feel like cooking.  And its a great place to practice our ever-expanding Thai phrases.  For those that are curious, the words "thaan 'aahaan" (pronounced TAN-AH-HAN) mean to "eat food."  

Eating is serious business people, serious business... :)

Can you believe that all 3 of us can eat for around $3?  
Its true.
These delicious Thai meals cost around 1 Canadian dollar each.
Not much beats that.

Food.  Such a wonderful thing. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I'll admit, when we left Canada just after Canadian Thanksgiving, I assumed that that would be the last turkey I would eat for a long, long time.  I didn't think you could even buy turkeys in Thailand.  And I hadn't even considered the fact that our teammates were American and celebrate Thanksgiving in late November.

But much to my surprise and delight, you CAN actually purchase turkeys here in Thailand, and Andy & Carmen (very conveniently) happen to be Americans, soooo.......

..... we get to eat turkey this weekend!!! :)

We're planning to have a Thanksgiving meal with the Owen family tomorrow, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and all the fixins' :)  I can't wait.  I plan to gain back all the weight I've lost from biking everywhere these days ;)

So on the topic of thankfulness, I thought I would list a few of the things I'm feeling thankful for right now.  It can be easy to point out all of the negatives when you're new to a country and everything feels overwhelming.  But I'm learning how important it is to pick out the good things as a way of moving forward and feeling more comfortable in our new home.

So, here are a few things I'm thankful for today:

- Thankful for cooler mornings... to the point of wearing long pants or putting on a sweater every now and then.  If you know Thailand, you'll know how refreshing this is :)

- Thankful for a husband and daughter who love me and whom I love to bits!

- Thankful for Andy & Carmen and for all they've done to help us get started here in Chiang Mai

- Thankful for a language teacher who is encouraging us and helping us move closer and closer to being able to communicate in the Thai language

- Thankful for a nanny/housekeeper who is WONDERFUL and takes such great care of Callie and our house.  We just LOVE her!

- Thankful for cheap iced-coffees and a new relationship that's blossoming with a Thai woman who runs a coffee shop just down the street from our school.  We study at her coffee shop a couple of times a week and are enjoying the fun we have practicing our thai with her.

- Thankful that I don't think twice about throwing the toilet paper in the garbage now instead of into the toilet (... ok, ok... I know that's "TMI" but hey... its the LITTLE things people... the little things that mean a lot.... and this was something that felt SO UNNATURAL when we first arrived!) :)

- Thankful for lots of exercise and feeling healthy

- Thankful for a spacious home to relax in and find rest

- Thankful that our bike ride to school feels so familiar and "routine" now

- Thankful for all of our loving friends, family and supporters back home who are praying for us and cheering us on!!

....... just to name a few ;)

Happy American Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back in the dating saddle again...

If you're married, you'll know how important it is to keep dating your spouse, even after being married for years.  Its so crucial to take time out of life's busyness and just enjoy one another's company.  And if there's ever a time that Jon and I have felt the need for this, it is NOW.

Its so easy to get caught up in the chaos and overwhelming routine of our lives here now, and too easy to forget to make time for each other, outside of studying and eating meals.  This is also especially tough because we don't have grandparents at our door, ready to watch Callie at the drop of a hat.  (Oh grandparents, how we miss you for SO many reasons!! :) )

But thankfully, our dear friend Carmen just happens to be absolutely incredible and offered to take Callie on Friday night so that we could have a 'night on the town... alone!'  We gratefully accepted and after dropping Callie off, we caught a songtaew (public transport) to the old part of the city in search of some Mexican food and good ol' market shopping.

Chiang Mai is absolutely beautiful at night...

We had to walk several blocks and stop to ask for directions a few times before we finally made it to our destination.  Thankfully, Thai people are friendly and were more than happy to help us find our way.  Here's Jon stopping to ask if we were going in the right direction.  What a good man... :)

And..... we finally made it!  
(Now, I know some of you are questioning why we wouldn't go for Thai food.  Well... its for obvious reasons.  We get Thai food EVERDAY, so our tastebuds were craving something more familiar.  Something smothered in sour cream and fresh salsa.)

If you're ever in Chiang Mai, we can officially say you NEED to eat at "Miguel's Cafe."  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

The portions were HUGE but the prices weren't.  What else could a person ask for?

Even after (literally) stuffing ourselves with nachos and chimichangas, we knew we couldn't pass up their $3 banana split. 
And here's a funny/humbling little story to go along with it:

In Thai, the words "banana" and "salt" are extremely similar.  
I couldn't figure out why the waitress was staring at me in total confusion when I tried to order our banana split.  
I kept asking and she kept staring blankly at me.  
I was even pointing at the picture of it on the menu.  What could possibly be so confusing??

 Finally, Jon realized that I was asking for salt, not a banana split. :)  
Oops.  Definitely don't bring me that.  

In the end, she did bring us a banana split and it was delicious.

After our scrumptious meal, we walked down towards the old city gate, only to stumble across a HUGE city-wide worship service.  It was incredible to see thousands of Thai believers, gathered by the city gate, singing and worshipping God.  It was also neat to see how many Thai people were wandering over to see what was going on.
I couldn't help but wonder how many Thai people might come to Christ that night and the fact that God had a specific plan for those that did.  It was obvious that the gathering was having a big impact.
We both found this incredibly encouraging, and it made us look forward to the day when we'll be able to verbally communicate Christ's love to the Thai people.

After a little market perusing, we waved down a 'tuk-tuk' (another form of public transportation) and made our way home.  
The evening was a ton of fun and so refreshing for both of us.  Its amazing what a night off can do for the soul :)  I think it gave both of us the energy we needed to make it through another week of language study.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meat for the masses...

Shopping for meat is a very unique experience here in Thailand. Upon first glance, I was appalled at how you purchase meat at the grocery stores here.   It just seemed so 'unhygienic' to me, laid out in the open like that.
But, I don't think Jon has any immediate plans of becoming a vegetarian (and neither do I for that matter) so I just had to 'go for it.'
So, here's to chicken... and every other kind of meat your heart desires.  Mmmm??  
Doesn't that just tantalize the taste buds? ;)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Progress is a wonderful thing...

We're on Day 4 of our language learning and actually feeling some encouragement!  Our first 3 days were focused on the phonetics of the Thai language and proper pronunciation.  At first, it seemed a bit repetitive and tedious but now as we look back at the last few days, we truly understand the importance of these things.
First day with our new teacher at Araya Language School
We're now able to read Thai words phonetically (not yet in the Thai script... that comes later) and can properly say them.  Its amazing what a difference this makes!  Our teacher, Khruu NiiTaa, has been extremely encouraging and tells us that we're advancing quickly, and very well.  She says that most "farangs" (foreigners) take a long time with the phonetics/pronunciation and can't move on for a while, so we'll take this as a gift from the Lord :)

Its amazing how much we have to throw our own English alphabet out the window in order to grasp this new language.  Suddenly the letter c makes a "j" sound, the letter b makes more of a "p" sound, the letter "k" is supposed to sound more like a "g"... everything is new and feels so backwards to us :)  But we're slowly getting it and excited about our new discoveries.

In other news... one of our first discoveries upon staying in our new home, was the fact that our neighbours have a rooster.  Said rooster awakes at approx. 5am and does not stop telling us its awake until well after 8am.

So, while we were looking for coffee mugs in 'Big C' (Thailand's equivalent to Walmart), we knew it was a prophetic moment when we found these rooster mugs.  We both laughed and agreed we needed to buy them.

I mean, really... if you can't beat 'em, you may as well join 'em, right!? :)

Enjoying our morning rooster routine
Other than that, we continue to buy more things to fill our home and try to unpack a bit more each time we do.  It'll still be a while before we can fully unpack, as we need to purchase at least two more armoires.  Thai homes rarely, if ever, come with closets in the rooms and so, other than the small one our house came with, we have nowhere to hang our things.  Hoping this will be one of our weekend purchases.  I'll add more pictures of our house once I feel it looks picture-worthy.  Right now, its still a 'work-in-progress.' :)

Callie continues to do quite well here and is slowly getting more and more comfortable with the Thai Nanny that cares for her 3 days of the week while we're at school.  She's also learning to get along with her playmate JJ (Andy & Carmen's daughter) a bit better these days (let's just say they're only 6 months apart and still learning to play together :) ) and even decided it was "OK" to hold hands while watching TV the other day.  I definitely had an "awwww" moment when I received this picture from Carmen earlier in the week...
Learning to be friends


Well, that's all for now.  Thanks to everyone who continues to read our updates and encourage us with your kind words.  We couldn't do this without the support of all of you and really do appreciate you more than you know!  Hope you're all having a wonderful week.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Animals make everything OK...

I guess I'm back-tracking a bit with this post, but I know some of you family & friend folk out there would like to see these pictures.  So, here you go. :)

Our first day in Chiang Mai required some time for house-hunting, but after being cooped up on a plane, I knew Callie wouldn't be interested in wandering through empty homes with Carmen, Jon and I.
So, Andy very graciously invited Callie to join him and the kids at the park/zoo.  Jon and I weren't sure how Callie would feel about heading off without us so soon, but she ended up having a blast!  It was so reassuring for us, as we've worried about her and the many changes that have come over the last month(s).  Andy kept sending us pictures from his phone while we house-hunted and with each new picture, our hearts were put at ease.  Callie will be just fine here :)

They got to enjoy some ice-cream together...

Callie got acquainted with "the girls"...

She got to ride a toy zebra...

She got to visit a real, live tiger... (which surprisingly, isn't a first for her :) )

And she quickly fell in love with her new "cousin" Connor...

All in all, a pretty fantastic first day in Chiang Mai for our big girl.