Picking up where I left off . . .

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Our family lock on the Great Wall.

Our time in Thailand has brought us much to be proud of and a little to be ashamed of. I am hopeful when I look back on our time here I remember only the proud moments. Two and a half years have flown by. Our children have grown a lot and my youngest has just started preschool which allows me a little time to blog.

My proud moments include our travels around Thailand and our recent trip to China. We probably haven’t made the most of our time here, not as much as others have. I usually use my children as an excuse for our lack of travel, but I need to own up to my own flaws. I guess my biggest flaws are lack of interest and energy. Blame my thyroid, lack of sleep, my husband not helping out, raising three children, the list goes on. I really don’t know what has been wrong with me.

I feel guilty when I think of how I have wasted my time. I have taught English here, participated in bible studies, involved my children in worthwhile and enriching activities and have kept a decent home. I began sinking into an abyss when my husband convinced me a year and a half ago to start going out on the town. Those of you who are familiar with Bangkok know this is not a city for the faint of heart. Before embarking, you need to make sure you and your marriage are stable. I did neither of these. Call it naïveté, stupidity or just the desire to please my husband. Either way, I was led down a path I was not comfortable with.

I have re-calibrated myself. I have a renewed sense of who I am and what I want from my life. My husband has promised me many changes and I resolve to stand firm in my beliefs. It’s a fine line we women walk — wanting to be good wives and mothers. We can go insane trying to keep everyone happy and lose ourselves in the process. On the bright side, I am back and I have a positive outlook. My next blog post will be an attempt to recap our time here.

Back from Thailand

Well, I survived my trip to Thailand and better yet, traveling with a 16 month old.   My first impression of Thailand was not favorable.  It looked very poor, run down and depressing.  After freshening up, we left immediately to meet our relocation assistant to find a home in the community surrounding the International School of Bangkok.  My spirits were not lifted at all and I asked my husband if the move was definite and if we could still back out.  He replied that it was definite and we could not back out.  My heart sank.  How could I bring my three children here?

The next morning I enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the hotel and a nice cup of espresso.  I went back out that day with a new attitude — if this would be my life for the next three to four years, I had better be in charge of it.  I had better find a house that my children would call home. 

As the week progressed I realized it wasn’t the landscape or the architecture of Thailand that would win a small piece of my heart, but the very friendly Thai people.  They absolutely loved my little Lilly.  Wherever we went they would reach out and touch her, stroke her curls, look into her blue eyes and tell me repeatedly that she looked just like a doll.  Lilly soaked up all the attention and smiled at everyone.  Normally I would not want people to touch my child for fear of germs, but the Thai people were so loving and sweet to deny them would have been beyond rude on my part.

Well, by weeks end, we found a home with a nice garden and a beautiful pool across the street.  Many neighbors had children’s bicycles in their driveways.  Hopefully I will easily find friends for my children and everyone will assimilate well into our new lifestyle.

We are back  home now and organizing for our big move.  Stress is high and I am fighting a stomach bug I picked up in Thailand.  I can’t believe that by August 1 we will be living in Thailand.  I get sad and depressed about leaving my life here behind.  I hope and pray we will all transition smoothly into our new lives in Thailand.

Thailand, Here I Come

I can’t believe the time has arrived for my husband, baby and I to travel to Thailand to find a home.  I am having a horrible time leaving my two older girls.  I know they will be fine with my Mom watching them, I am just afraid something will happen to me and I will never see them again.  I know these are normal fears all mothers feel, but it doesn’t make them any easier to tolerate. 

If all goes well, we will all be moving there at the end of July.  I have such mixed feelings regarding the entire move.  Yes, it will be an adventure, yes, it will be a wonderful experience for the children.   But, a lot can be said for stability, safety and familiar surroundings.  All of which I find comfort in.    I will write more on all this later this week if time permits . . .

Daughter Date Night and Inspiration

I had a wonderful night with my 11-year-old last week.  Although my husband could only give us three hours together we had a lot of fun.  We spent way too long at dinner, but she talked almost non-stop which was wonderful.  It is so great to reconnect with her.  I wish I could have time like this with each child daily.  Such a wish had me searching the web for answers. 

There is an “inspiring” blog out there called Inspired to Action.  It has me questioning the life I am living.  I am not happy, so something needs to change and it has to start with me.  I need to take control again and be a good example for my children.  If you have a moment, check out Inspired to Action http://inspiredtoaction.com/  and let it inspire you.  I will keep you posted on my progress.

Thank You for Voting!

Katey won Honorable Mention in the state Arbor Day poster competition.   She was given a tree to plant at her school and her name was engraved on a plaque which is hung at the Arbor Day Foundation.  Her picture will also be placed on a bookmark.  I am so proud of her!  Thank you again for all your support.

Life is Good . . . Don’t Miss It! (Ladies Home Journal, March 2010)

Christmas Jejoes

Making Moments that Matter

I recently read an article in Ladies Home Journal that inspired me.  It discusses being  present for the important moments of your life.  The article calls it mindfulness — the practice of keeping your focus on the present moment. 

I am notorious for lying in bed at night usually around 3 a.m. thinking about all the ways I haven’t been there for each child and how overwhelmed I am.   With all the multitasking modern-day life requires, I find  myself hurrying so fast to accomplish so much I forget to stop and enjoy the moments that truly matter.  I have not been practicing mindfulness and I am missing out on so much. 

So how do I accomplish mindfulness?  It takes practice.  While I am hurrying along accomplishing all the tasks necessary for a family of five I am focusing on getting to the next task.  I should instead focus on the actual task and ask myself how I can enjoy the moment.  I know this may sound crazy, but I have tried it a few times and it really works.  I have noticed more joy in my every day life just by slowing down and engaging in what I am doing while I am doing it.  Whether it be folding laundry or taking out the trash.  I take a deep breath, notice the details of my surroundings and be present. 

The article also discusses during times when I feel frantic or overwhelmed I need to see it as an invitation to be present.  Take a deep breath, focus and bring myself back into the moment.  

When I focus on doing too many things at once I am not giving full attention to either one and then when a child (or three) enter the situation I can only offer a fraction of attention to what really matters.  It’s almost as if I have left my body and I am just going through the motions like a machine.  My mind isn’t even focusing.  

My task list, laundry, blog, e-mail and Facebook will be there tomorrow, but my children are growing up quickly.  A great quote from the article says, “Technology is great for staying in touch with far-away loved ones.  But for the near and dear who are actually near?  Be with them when you can.”  I need to make rules for myself to limit technology for those times when my children don’t need me.  This also holds true for the daily tasks like laundry and cleaning.  When a child does require my attention — be there “mindfully.”  Look in her eyes, notice her expression and really listen.  Incorporating mindfulness in my marriage would go a long way too. 

Hopefully by practicing mindfulness my late night guilt will fade.  I am hoping my children will benefit from a mom who is truly there for them and present.  No more half-heartedly listening to one of my children while I complete a task or plunk away on the computer.  I vow from this moment on to be there as much as I can and be mindful.

Easy Overnight Oatmeal

Has anyone tried overnight oatmeal?  I am not a huge oatmeal fan although I do like a bowl now and then.  I made overnight oatmeal in my crock recently and awoke to the best oatmeal I have ever tasted.  My daughter loved it and has requested it again. 

Easy Overnight Oatmeal

4 cups milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. melted butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 cups old-fashioned or steel-cut oats

1 cup craisins

2 cups apple, chopped

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Coat the inside of a 3-4 quart slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and mix well.  Cover and cook on warm or low setting overnight, or 7-8 hours.  In the morning, stir well and scoop into individual bowls.  Refrigerate any leftovers (they reheat well in the microwave).