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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Field Trip to the Airport

I had the privilege of accompanying Tobi’s class on their airport field trip today.  The two K2 classes are studying transport this term.  
Upon arriving at school this morning, I was surrounded by many excitable 4-5 year olds ready for some practical experience in the cockpit and a lesson about the various parts of a plane.



Though not well known, Chiang Mai is home to a vintage aircraft museum. Tango Squadron Wing 41 maintains the museum located at the Chiang Mai Airport. 
The museum is located in the part of the airport used by the Royal Thai Air Force. 
The children had a wonderful time climbing in and out of some very old fighter planes, T-28s, a Bronco hanger, a seventy year old plane that had been used for the royal family and a reproduction Nakajima B5N built for the movie Tora,Tora, Tora (about Pearl Harbor). 

It was a fascinating experience for me, as I don’t know a lot about the different models of aircraft.  It was also rewarding to see how Tobi enjoyed the chance to “fly” the planes.  When I asked him where he was flying to, he said “Airport Plaza” a big shopping complex near the airport- that’s my boy!!


The two K2 classes yelling “1,2,3 TANGO!”.




Tobi amongst the girls!! 

Your pilot today... Tobiah Cross!




  



Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Journey Home from the Fair

Out the car window...

Yes, that’s correct.  It’s an elephant and I took this photo from inside the car... that’s how close I was to it!

Dave decided that we should be adventurers on the way home from the fair today (“like Dora the explorer” he told Eli) to which we all agreed and set off with nothing but the satellite navigation system and a couple of bottles of water...

The trip soon had me leaving the camera in my hand permanently and counting how many different animals we saw either right outside our windows or on the side of the road.  Amazing.

What was more amazing was the scenery.  We were so overwhelmed by the complete contrasts we saw literally between one bend in the winding road to the next.  

So the animals we saw included buffalo, chickens, elephants and dogs (of course).  And the scenery varied from national park/ forest to rice fields, manicured resort-style gardens, barren unmade roads and really, really rural farming properties.

Check out some of the pics we took “out the car window”.  










Saturday, February 20, 2010

The International Fair

AND THE AUSTRALIAN FLAG BEARER IS...

DAVID CROSS!  Aussie Aussie Aussie...Oi, Oi, Oi!  


We felt patriotic today.  With a small representation of Australian people at the International Fair, we certainly felt proud to be Aussies and meet up with the other Australians that go to the school.  
Today was such a wonderful experience for the children, being able to learn about and appreciate the other nations represented.  
We had fun trying some of the different foods (as well as eating about a zillion Anzacs!!) and watching the various dancers take to the stage.  
We even began making plans for what we could do on our stand for next year’s fair.










My next blog entry will be about the trip home from the fair.  
What was a half an hour drive to the fair, was a 4 hour journey home!
But well worth the “scenic” route!


Friday, February 19, 2010

TIDBITS!

A bit of this and a bit of that...

When we were told by the ZOE founders that upon arrival in Thailand we would have 8 weeks to “acclimate” before starting, we had mixed feelings.  Two months seemed like such a long time and yet we also knew it would take a bit to settle in.
Well, we’ve now reached week 5 and Dave is champing at the bit to begin.  Every time I catch myself thinking I wish Dave could just keep ‘hanging out’ with me every day I pull myself up because I actually don’t wish that at all.  
Don’t get me wrong, it has been so nice having the time with Dave around and seeing him so involved in what the kids are doing at kindergarten as well as playing with Spencer during the days etc but I am actually really looking forward to him beginning at ZOE too.  
The very reason why we’ve come to Thailand is to help the precious children at ZOE Children’s Home and that’s what we both feel really passionate about.
It’s been strange attending the ZOE events but not being involved.  We hear about all the tasks big and small that we could help with  ...whilst we are trying to stick to the “rules” there have been a few things we have been able to do from home! 
One of first things that Dave will be doing when he begins is to help plan the holiday program (camp) that runs at the children’s home for two weeks.  He’ll be a part of the whole event and in charge of the morning program which involves organising the games/outdoor activities.  He’s really looking forward to this and has been secretly brainstorming ideas with me already.  Shhhhh!
At the moment I am feeling like I would definitely like to contribute at ZOE in some way as well.  Without the usual mother’s groups, weekly activities and network of family and friends to catch up with, I think that once Dave starts to work that I’d also like to be doing something outside of the home.  

There seems to be lots that happens at the children’s school too which is another area where I could possibly be of assistance.  
Tomorrow is the International Fair on the senior campus which we are all really looking forward to.  We’ll get to see a bit more of the Chiangmai country side, Tobi and Eli have some baht to spend and I have baked and packaged up 150 Anzac biscuits ready for the Australian stand.






It was so much fun for me making all the price tags and putting the packs all together.  I have a feeling Dave may have even been nominated as the Australian flag bearer too... but he’s keeping rather quiet about it so I’ll let you know after tomorrow!
Everyday we feel both more at home here as well as increasingly frustrated at our obvious lack of the Thai language.  
One example being that tonight as I checked out at the grocery store, I’d bought some dishwashing liquid that was on special but because I couldn’t read the sign which said ‘buy one get one free‘ I missed out getting my one free! Boo! You know how much I love a bargain so this was very annoying for me.  I almost started rocking back and forth chanting “...must learn to read Thai...” but thankfully gained my composure just in time. Grrr.
I did manage to buy a tee-shirt for $1 though so I suppose that made up for it, kind of...
Speaking of clothes, it’s been interesting over here because out of respect for the Thai people, shoulders and knees should not been seen so all my shoe string strap tee-shirts and denim skirts, shorts etc are all of no use to me.  I have been on a hunt to find some knee length skirts as it’s just too hot to wear jeans and pants all the time.  Well do you think I can find any? No.  All I could find were short skirts and short shorts! Who’s wearing these clothes if it isn’t the Thais? They can’t all be for the tourists surely.  Anyway I stumbled upon a shop the other day that sold skorts! You know a combination of a skirt and short... I used to tease these but now they are my uniform!  Yes they are knee length, not too hot and extremely unattractive... PERFECT!
Okay, I’d better stop my rambling but to finish up, Jessica introduced us to the most peculiar thing over here and that is salt flavored toothpaste. How odd is that? But actually we are really starting to enjoy it.  It’s (as you would imagine) salty and yet refreshing... like the beach I guess.  It makes brushing your teeth not that enjoyable but afterwards you get the reward of a lasting freshness!  LOL.
Good news! We have faster Internet now and in about 2 weeks (please God) we’ll have ADSL!  Then Dave and I won’t have to fight, I mean, take it in turns anymore. We can both be online! Yay.  So, in relation to that, we’ll hopefully get quicker soon at replying to your individual emails.  Thanks, thanks, thanks... we LOVE hearing from you. Please keep them coming.  
Andie :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A WEEKEND OF WARM, MUSHY FEELINGS!

So after spending the day on Friday feeling a bit glum that the following day was our wedding anniversary and we had nothing planned, I had (once again) played right in to the hands of Dave who had had things organised for weeks without my knowing.  I continue to be gullible and he continues to sweep me off my feet!

All my suggestions about what we could do for our anniversary were met with reasons why they wouldn’t work, “Eli has been unwell... That’s a bit hard with the kids... We’d need babysitters for that...”

I decided to just be happy ‘in spite of...’ the circumstances and stopped making suggestions by mid afternoon.

Come Saturday morning, I was awoken by the scent of a freshly brewed coffee and the sweet smell of roses leading down the stairs to the living area.  Costing about $2 for ten long stemmed roses, Dave was really proud of his efforts and why wouldn’t you be? Another reason why we love Thailand!

Dave, Tobi and Eli set to work making pancakes for breakfast, a tradition in our family on special occasions and, as always, Dave’s recipe did not let him down. The pancakes were a huge hit and we all left the table feeling fully satisfied.


A song started playing in the background that prompted me to pick up Tobi and start dancing with him to which Dave and Eli also joined in. After some time we switched partners and I got a lovely ‘sway‘ with Dave and the amusement of seeing Tobi and Eli slow dancing too. It was really cute.

Returning to the table, I noticed Dave had placed something on my spot... an invitation to go on a date that night AND babysitting was arranged! I was so shocked and excited all at once that I just burst in to tears.  
It has been a wonderful first month with so many blessings but there has also been several “low” times too.  The thought of a date night out made me feel so happy I could not wipe the smile off my face. I felt like a giggly teenager again.  

We spent the morning at a park in the city.  There had been a special floral festival the weekend before in the city and the flowers in the park all still looked amazing.






Well the night time could not come fast enough!

As we headed off by ourselves for the first time since being here, we were amazed at how much we had to talk about so talk we did (uninterrupted) ... Needless to say, we had a fantastic evening out.







At the end of the evening we lit a special lantern that floats up in the air.  The Thai people told us to each make a wish as we let it go.
Later as we discussed what we’d wished for Dave, the romantic one, said he’d wished for “unending love” while I... I’d like to say being the practical one, wished that “Thai would be easy to learn!!” Ahhh we’re all different I guess.

I hope you all enjoyed a great Valentine’s Day. Andie :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

THE GOOD, THE BAD and the UGLY

So many unfamiliar and funny things happen over here that after the initial ‘shock’ or ‘disbelief’ fades away, we forget about it- probably because we move on to the next thing that’s taken our attention.
Delicious roast chicken now, but earlier...
Hence the title, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ because some of the ‘shocks’ we get are good ones, some bad and yesterday I had the experience of a really “ugly” one. 
I’ll explain.
We visited a big shop over here called Makro.  It’s a bit like Cash and Carry.  You can buy in bulk if you want or just individual items.
Anyway as we walked around doing our grocery shopping, we decided to buy the items we needed for a roast... our first roast over here.  As you can imagine after lots of rice dishes for the past month, we were really excited about the idea of a roast meal. Hmmm yum!
Later that afternoon, as Dave set up a towel rack upstairs, I enthusiastically went to the fridge and pulled out the big chicken ready to put in the oven.  Wondering how I would lift the huge bird in to the dish without touching it (I dislike handling raw chicken at the best of times and this was a BIG and strong smelling chook) I opted for two pairs of tongs. As I went to lift the hefty beast in to the roasting dish, what should flop out but its head and neck still attached!!!!  

Oh my goodness I got the shock of my life and ran shaking up to Dave with the news.
Thankfully this was no great concern for him and he set about removing the extra ‘bits’ with a trusty pair of scissors.  (I can still see those beady eyes staring at me) and (as he discovered) the chicken feet were still there as well!!! Ewwwww!


After all the dramas (and carry on from me) I was eventually able to block out the precooked version of the chicken and enjoy what ended up being a really wonderful tasting roast.  

So what about the good and the bad?  Well one good thing according to Dave is not having to ever get out of the car to fill it up with petrol.  They serve you over here at the petrol stations and you just hand your money out the window at the end.  We even had our wind screen washed for us the other day while the petrol filled up!  How good is that?
I think the snacks over here are pretty good. My sweet tooth has sweetened even more.  Today whilst out I bought a banana muffin for myself and a pastry for Spencer totaling  all of 80 cents!  Dangerous!



This next one isn’t a particularly ‘bad’ thing more so just a bit confusing... when ringing someone on the phone, the ring tone is the same as what we know as the ‘engaged’ signal.  
It’s gets me nearly every time!  I’m just about ready to hang up because I think the person is on another call when they pick up!! 

Anyway, that’s all the good, bad and ugly stories I have for now.
I still can’t help but shudder every time I look at that chook photo! 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

WHY SUCH A HAPPY FACE?

         a package in the mail!

We would like to say a huge thank you to the Vergers family.  Your prayers, encouraging emails and support had already spoken volumes to us about what a generous family you are but when a parcel arrived in the post this week we were even more overcome with gratitude.








The children had so much fun opening up their present and looking through all the different things that you’d sent.  
Eliana put her bracelet on straight away and then enjoyed playing doctors with me for a good hour or so.  I was glad to sit and relax while she gently gave me pretend needles and listened to my heart.
She was also thrilled to see that some of the books you sent were about creatures that live in the sea.  This is the theme her class has taken this term and she is going to take the books in as her show and tell.
Tobi packed and repacked the backpack full of all the goodies then set about beginning to write in the notepad and add some stickers to his work.
Spencer ran around gleefully with a spirit of excitement.  
This week his ‘spark’ has completely returned which makes us so happy.  He loved looking at the books too and will enjoy reading them over and over ... as he loves to do.
So again, Vergers family, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity and thoughtful gifts.  
Blessings,
From the Crossies.

A genuine friend encourages and challenges us to live out our best thoughts, honor our purest motives and achieve our most significant dreams.
Dan Reiland