Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lantern Festival

Yesterday was the craziest day we have had yet.  I know I will not be able to explain it accurately but here is my attempt.

Chiang Mai and Thailand are known for the "kom loy" or lantern festival.  This weekend was the traditional religious event where thousands of people gather at a university to honor the Buddha and bring blessings on the new year.  (there is a good chance that some of this information is wrong :/ ) There is a whole religious service, chants, prayers, etc. before the releasing of the lanterns.

We knew some people were getting there very early, but we did not decide to even go until later in the afternoon. Five of us decided to ride together, so we did not end up leaving until about 530. It took us about an hour to get to the general area.  We sort of had no idea where we were going, so we just followed the cars in front of us. Eventually we got to a place where lots of people were walking and police was directing traffic and decided to park right there.  It was a perfect spot.  We were as close as possible!

We had a little bit of a hike ahead of us. It was quite dark so we were trying to hurry and not miss it!! Once to the location (an outside arena type thing) we had the joyous task of finding our friends who had saved us spots.  Thousands of people praying and meditating while five foreigners were trying to find their friends.  It took us a little while but we got it.  Then we waited for probably another 30 minutes.  Then the monks and presumably other religious leaders/people circled the group three times.  We were then instructed to light the ground lanterns, which looked like tiki torches! We were given directions for how to light the floating lanterns and told to wait until the signal.

The white ball is the stage where the monks were. The balls of light are the ground lanterns being lit. 
More people and lanterns going off before they were supposed to!
We lit our lantern, which was honestly harder than I thought.  These lanterns were about 4ft high and 2ft wide.  You had to light the center part and wait for the lantern to fill with the hot air.  It was HOT.  Fire everywhere. Staring at the lantern to make sure it was catching. People everywhere.  HOT! This picture shows how we had to light it. But the top part should have been opened up more...

Suddenly fire works went off directly over our heads and that was the signal to release.  We let ours go and watched as thousands of other lanterns were let off into the sky. It was gorgeous!!  Here are some pictures a friend took and then a video I took that does not have sound :(  

Here is the video:

It was an awesome thing to be part of. Truly amazing.

After we had let off quite a few, we decided it was time to go and tried to beat the rush of people.  We basically ran to the car - weaving in and out of people, motorcycles, and cars - passing as many as we could.  As we got to the car, we realized it was facing the wrong way.  But suddenly there was a break in the traffic.  We hopped in the car and quickly made a u-turn and got out of there.  We did not hit ANY traffic on the way back either.  It was nuts.  We were totally lucky.

BUT THEN..........

Again, we made great time to the condo where we met.  It looked like it was going to storm, crazy winds and dark clouds.  By the time we got out of the elevator it started pouring rain. Since it was so windy it was soaking us in the hallway.  Opening the door to the condo was difficult because they left the windows open and the draft of wind was pushing against the door.  We quickly realized the rain was coming in through the windows.

Then , we remembered the windows upstairs with TVs in front of them. Someone ran upstairs to check. She screamed and heard a loud crash. Moe went running after her and fell on the wet floors.  I followed and found the other room drenched as well.  Closing the windows upstairs was just as challenging as opening the door.  As soon as we got some towels to start drying things up the power went out.  It was unbelievable.  

As best we could we dried things up in the dark.  Thankfully nothing was damaged but a lot was wet.  Since the power was out the elevator was out.  We were stuck for about an hour. But it was beautiful.  We could watch the storm over the city.  We laughed a lot about how ridiculous things were.  We created memories :)

We were very lucky.  Had we been slowed down by people, had we hit traffic, had we stopped for a drink, had anything been different we could have been stuck in that elevator!!

It was truly a night we will never forget.  We are definitely blessed!

Thanksgiving Thailand/Brittany style

This Thanksgiving was crazy.  First, we had a half day of school which meant four periods... but I have both of my prep periods Thursday mornings. This meant that I only had TWO periods with my kiddos!! It was truly a blessing.

Here is why.

It all started Tuesday when I was getting ready for bed, late.  I put on my pajamas that were laying on  my bed.  I took out my contacts and brushed my teeth.  I was getting ready to put Chico in his cage like every other day.  But I felt something crawling down my leg.  It was a tiny ant.  I then felt them on other parts of me.  I quickly took off my clothes, started screaming for Moe.  I looked at our bed and there were ants IN our bed!!!!! Some of them had gotten into my clothing.  I literally had Ants in my Pants!!!!!!  I was so so so so so frustrated. I stripped the bed and checked for them on the mattress but did not find much.  I jumped in the shower because I still felt like they were crawling all over me.  Moe cleaned them off the floor and sprayed the hole where they were coming from.

After showering, I realized I had not idea where our other sheets were. (one of the beautiful things about having a housekeeper is they can put things wherever they want and you have no idea!) I checked every place that I knew where to look.  I was tired. I was frustrated. I was grumpy. very grumpy.  Moe decided he wanted to check the foot of our bed.  Let me try to explain this to you: Our bed is made of teak wood and hand carved at the foot with trees and plants and what not.  It is beautiful.  It looks like there is a drawer in the center and if you pull just right you can open it.  Moe thought that maybe the sides were then doors like other bed we have that clearly has drawers and doors and handles to open such things. Our bed had no signs of this.  I was certain that he was crazy.  After struggling with it for a few minutes he got out the screwdriver for leverage.  Shortly after that he opened it and viola! There were our sheets! I could not believe that our housekeeper had found the door, opened it, and put our sheets in there. BUT I was so thankful that Moe did not give up finding the sheets.  I on the other hand was ready to sleep on the couch for the night :(

Wow this is getting long. I will speed it up.  Tuesday after school I realized I had giant bug bites on my legs.  My classroom at school has terrible mosquitoes. (I truly do not know if the bug bites are from the ants or the mosquitoes.) I had/have 10 bug bites from mid calf down on just one leg.  By Wednesday they were very irritated.  By Wednesday night two of them had formed pus bubbles. Bubbles on my legs that are yellow that are hard, not oozing.  (sorry for the description!) I slept terribly.  I was in great pain.

Thursday was miserable. Literally.  It was painful to walk. It was painful to sit. I wanted to chop off my lower leg! I went to the nurse at school and she recommended that I go to a skin doctor.  She gave me directions and what not but I wasn't convinced.  Then I showed other teachers to get other opinions.  Everyone that I showed said they had never seen it before so I was starting to get worried.  Finally as school ended I realized I needed to get them checked out.

Two friends took me to the hospital around the corner from school.  Someone called to make sure that the right doctor was there and for how long.  When we got there I registered and sat. I got my blood pressure and basic "are you allergic to anything, are you taking anything" questions done in the waiting room.  I then moved down the hall to chairs in front of the doctors office.  Shortly thereafter he called me in.  I sat down, he looked at my bites, asked me about them and said you are allergic. Provided me with cream and an antihistamine.  He gave me directions and we left his room.  I walked around the corner to the cashier and paid 604 baht, about 20 dollars.  I walked ten steps to the next window and picked up my prescriptions.  Then we walked out the door.  The entire trip - arrival, check in, visitation, payment, drugs - took 45 minutes.  It was beautiful.

Later that night we had Thanksgiving at a teacher friend's house. It was potluck style where they provided the turkey and drinks and what not and everyone else brought a side.  We had mashed potatoes, broiled potatoes, creamed corn, green bean casserole, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, apple pie, ice cream and I think that wraps it up.  It was delicious.  The wonderful thing was there was so much food we got to take some for leftovers!!

Overall it was a memorable day so that is what I tried to focus on.  If you are curious.... Here are some pictures of my legs.

You can see how swollen my ankle is :(  The white stuff is the cream the doctor gave me.

This is the monster one on the back of my calf. It is the size of my finger.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harvest Party make up post

So I just realized I never shared about our Harvest Party that we had at school Nov. 9th.  It was our first official school 'party'.  We did not celebrate Halloween so this was a mix between a Halloween and Thanksgiving party.  We were supposed to dress up as something we were thankful for rather than scary or bloody things.  We had a parade of our costumes 1st period and then last period we had our official party with parents and food and other goodies.  If you want to see pictures you can go to the school website here. If you wait to see all the kids cycle through a picture of our class will appear!  I dressed up as a chef!

I decided that we were going to party most of the day.  It turned out to only be half of the time.  We did do our normal Spelling test and math quiz.  Plus we had our normal 2 specials --- have I mentioned that? I have 2 plan periods every day... it is beautiful!

Anyway we did a scavenger hunt thing second period where the kids had to follow the clues to find things they were thankful for.  I was surprised how many of them did not know what a scavenger hunt was! It was a new experience for us all.  I was not sure how it would go but they loved it!! Most of them.

We made some really cute crafts pictured below.  The pumpkin has something the kids are thankful for on each strip of paper. I am quite proud of that craft!  The toilet rolls the kids were given some pictures and samples and told to do as they wished with them.  The kids were so creative!

After we ate a bunch of goodies, we played a game where the kids were separated into groups and raced to see who could make the fastest mummy.  We then raced to see which mummy was the fastest.  The kids seemed to enjoy it.  You can see half of the parents in the background.  Others were on the other side of the room.  It was a great turn out!!

In case anyone is curious, we are given half a day off for Thanksgiving and the following Friday off of school.  We have Professional Development that day, well I should say I do... Moe gets to stay home with Chico.  We also have plans for Thanksgiving which I am very intrigued about.  We are going to a fellow teacher's house and having a potluck.  From the sounds of the menu it is going to be fairly traditional.  Maybe I will get another post out about it afterwards.  Hope you all are enjoying your holidays this week!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just in case

Just in case you did not know it already, I have a WONDERFUL hubby.  Moe is truly amazing.  He is such a blessing to me.

Yesterday I came home from a rough day at work and saw these on the kitchen table.....

and these were in the bedroom.....

Isn't he perfect! (that comment was for you, daddy!)

Anyway, Moe truly is great.  Even though he is now working full time (subbing for maternity leave), he is still tutoring 2 times a week, going to Thai class with me 2 times a week, and has soccer practice 3 if not 4 times a week.... clearly that does not add up for a normal school week.  He is super busy but super great.  He is doing all of this without complaint, for the most part of course.

Just wanted to brag on my hubby for a little bit because he deserves it.  I definitely would not be where I am today without him.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The election from this side of the world

I know I am risking chaos by posting about this so soon after the dust has settled but I am feeling brave today.  Plus I think it is important to share a different perspective.

The Presidential Election was not on my radar this year.  Sure I knew it was happening.  Sure I had some opinions as well as knew the opinions of my friends and family.  But I figured being on the other side of the world it did not matter much.  I was very thankful to not be home to witness the countless ads and phone calls bombarding me.  I saw enough ads while watching football through skype with my family :) and heard enough about it on Facebook...oh Facebook!

Anyway, my point.  I was shocked come November 7th here  (Nov. 6th in America).  I woke up and decided that I wanted to watch how the results were coming in.  When I got to school, I opened BBC news to follow the election updates and left them open all day.   I briefly mentioned to my kids that today a new president was being decided in America.

And suddenly.....

the day changed.....


Instantly my class had opinions about who should win and why.  In case you have forgotten, I only have 2 Americans, who have been in America for a month each.  I had students start chanting for Obama.  One kid told me that he wanted Obama to win.  I asked if he even knew who the other guy was and pointed to his picture.  He said no but he wouldn't vote for Romney because Romney was ugly.  Another kid said he wanted Obama to win because Obama likes Korea.

I honestly thought it was interesting that they cared.  I didn't think they would.  So I showed them the article I was reading and the map that explained who had voted for what and what not.  I had to briefly explain the Electoral College votes because they thought the president only needed 270 people to vote for him.  They only sort of got it.  It was also cute to see how little they truly know about America because they thought that New York was about 4 states on the map including Pennsylvania and Virginia.  I gave them the update saying that currently Romney was winning (I think at this point 5 states had reported or something).  I had a few cheers for the leader.

They left for recess talking ALL about it.  When they came back, they wanted to know who was ahead now.  And I told them.  A student told me that he changed his vote to Romney because Romney would not let boys marry boys.  I had more Obama supporters too.  Friends who initially had no care in the world for this suddenly had strong opinions about who should win.

As the day progressed more and more students cared.  I had a girl tell me that SHE voted for Romney.  I just smiled at her but she was serious.  "Ms. Brittany, really I voted for Romney. I really did."

Even during lunch the teachers gathered and talked about the election.  We never talk politics, not even Thailand politics, barely even school politics!  But we did.  It was interesting again to see/hear how people felt being removed from it as we are.

Anyway,  by the end of lunch Obama had won, though not given his acceptance speech yet or whatever you call it.  When my class returned I told them I would tell them the winner if there was no shouting or chanting or complaining or anything.  I told them and sure enough there was.  They had to sit quietly for a few minutes before we moved on.  BUT when we moved on, we moved on.

The next day there was not a peep about the election or Obama or Romney.  We were able to move on and not worry about it anymore.  Sure that is because they are in 4th grade. Sure it is because they are not in the mix or affected by it at all.  Sure they are young.  But the idea of being able to be so heated about something one day and null to it the next is fascinating. And it happens often with them.

If only the rest of us could follow this same concept.

I was quite happy to see some interest in them for the election.  Maybe next time I can try to do a little more educational things with it rather than just telling them who won.  It stirred up some great conversation and some great stories were made.  It was a fun day and now I/we can move on to other things.

Anyway, just wanted to share some of the silliness that happened over here.  I know that even the local news channels and radios were talking about it all day. Even on the other side of the world people care....who knew!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chico is a cutie

I know that I have been posting a lot this week! Hopefully that continues.  But I finally took some quality photos of Chico.  Thought I would share!

Our cute puppy.  No his eyes are not really blue.  Yes that is Tigger on his collar!! 

All four of his paws are white.  His tail flips up and is adorable!!

Shows size.  He is laying between my legs and barely reaches my knees.  So cute though!!