Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Today I was reminded of the amazing community I am a part of.  We had a going away party for a student in the other 4th grade class who has been a part of the community for 4 years.  His mom threw this great party for the students and a handful of other moms come in and help. He gave a short presentation of where he was going and she said a short thank you to the students. It caught me off guard how emotional she was and I became emotional even though I barely know the mom or the student, since they are in the other class. She was expressing her sincere appreciation for the community and group of students her son was a part of.  It reminded me of how bless I am to be part of it as well.  My school is so supporting, encouraging, and welcoming to all and it is truly an amazing place to work.

Anyway, we have 2.5 days of school left until break and I could not be happier!! I love my students but I am ready for a good 3 weeks away from them! Moe and I will be enjoying Christmas in Chiang Mai and then heading to Siem Reap, Cambodia for the last few days of break.  We cant wait to see the beautiful temples.

I hope you all are enjoying your holidays and hopefully cool weather. I have finally decorated everywhere for Christmas in hopes to begin to think Christmas.  The weather is slowly cooling down so that is helping a bit.  I love this time of year, but it is definitely much harder being away from all our family and loved ones.  We think of you all often!  Here is our little taste of Christmas.  I love it!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Productive Friday

Today was the kings birthday, so we got the day off of school. I was able to sleep in finally and Chico let me! I then woke up and made myself cinnamon French toast which was delicious, I watched some shows and relaxed. Then I went out to the store to get some last Christmas decorations.  There were so many people out and showing support for the king by wearing yellow. It's so cool to see.  I also got Chico a new toy. Here is a video of him playing with it! He was so cute because he didn't want to hurt his new toy friend.

New Toy from Brittany Knechtel on Vimeo.

I then came home did some homework, watched some more shows and relaxed. I put up the last decorations, organized a few things, and had yummy leftover tacos for lunch.  Matt then decided he wanted a grill. So the adventure began by going to the Home Depot like store, called HomePro. Matt saw exactly what he wanted for cheaper than he thought possible. We had to have it, but we came on the motorbike. So we looked into delivery which was actually reasonably price but wouldn't arrive until Sunday. Matt wasn't having that, so we decided to get a songteaow. I rode with the goods in the truck, while Matt led the way with the motorbike. It cost us 3 bucks to have this guy follow Matt home and deliver our grill immediately. Then came the adventure of putting it together without instructions and grilling for the first time.  Matt was craving chicken wings so that is what we had.

It was a. Reat Friday, but Saturday was great too. More on that soon!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

We live in a beautiful world

I keep finding myself in awe of the beauty around me. As I keep saying I have been super busy, but not too busy to stop and relish at the beauty of nature. (ps I had to google that relish was actually the word I wanted and not only a condiment, it means great enjoyment). I think taking note of these beautiful times and places has allowed me to enjoy my busyness a little bit more and stay motivated to the task at hand.

It also allows me to stay engaged in what I am doing and not worrying about the next thing.  On the car ride home from volleyball tournament I find joy hearing the kids interact and discuss life; I also enjoy hearing them mixing their languages, or talking to their mothers on the phone in another language than what they use with their friends.  I am enjoying my students and learning their demeanor and unique silliness. I enjoy when my work challenges and motivates me. I enjoy my school work and learning how to be a better teacher.  I enjoy when Moe and I watch a show together or play with Chico.  I am truly enjoying life and I could not be happier.

That's really all I have to say today.  Life is good.  Here are some pictures that I could not help but taking of the beauty around me.

View from our back door. Do you see the bananas??

fruit growing...

more bananas!

had to stop on my way to church to take this picture. 

so I decided to take a selfie too ;) 

still beautiful after church so I took some more pics from the roof at home

The sky is so blue!

volleyball teams showing off their medals from the tournament. They were so fun to coach!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grade 4 Assembly on Honesty

Wow I cant believe my last post was in August and it is almost October.  But then again I can believe it because things have been very crazy here. I have a couple of posts in mind for the upcoming weeks, so hopefully I can find time for them.  For now, I wanted to share about our 4th grade assembly.

My school's character education is called The Virtue Project. We focus on virtues each month, in our classrooms and behaviors and what not.  Each month there is a specific virtue to focus on and at the end of the month a grade level (two classes) presents a 20-40 minute assembly on that virtue.  I should specify that is done for the elementary only.

This month the virtue was honesty and the 4th grade signed up for the assembly.  My partner and I like to go early in the school year to get it out of the way. It does take up a good bit of class time but the students love it and we find ways to incorporate it into the curriculum.

Here I am entertaining the wound up children just before the assembly starting... photo taken from cmis website gallery

This year my partner and I decided to allow the students to create the skits, since honesty is a well understood virtue.  We chose some basic ideas for skits and then asked for student input.  They said all of the things that we had decided so it was perfect.  My class was to create 3 skits and so was hers.  My students voted for which skit they wanted to be part of, and then I assigned them.  They were in charge of creating the script, assigning roles, figuring out props and clothing, deciding on signs or narrators and everything.

Its always so fun to see them perform, and to see their parents gushing over them!  The entire assembly took just about 30 minutes. I was unable to record the entire thing, and frankly you probably wouldnt want to watch that! But I do have 2 short videos to give a little idea of what happened.

Photo taken from: cmis website gallery
All of the assemblies sort of look like this:  first we stand for the King's song (which is required for all large gatherings, including movie showings). Then we pray to Jesus. Next is reading of the definition, provided by The Virtue Project, then the skits or songs or poems or videos done by the students.  We did a Poem about honesty that the students created.  Generally we end with the School Song. Here is a video of  the CMIS School Song.

Also, our resident photographer always does a great job taking pictures. If you want to see some pictures of the event you can view them at our school website gallery here

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Made it Safely

Just wanted to check in and say that I made it safe and sound from America to Chiang Mai.  My time this summer in America was amazing and I will treasure it for the next two years!  I am so glad I got to spend time with so many people and create new memories.  However, I am happy to back in Chiang Mai and back to work and back to living the international lifestyle.  Some of the things I was most excited to come back to were:  fried chicken and sticky rice (which ironically I havent had yet), sweet and sour chicken (which is as amazing as ever), driving my motorbike, teaching, and living in a diverse culture where I am a minority trying to 'fit in'.

My trip was fairly uneventful.  My trip to Toronto was the most stressful even though it was only an hour flight.  My luggage was overweight to begin the day.  So I had to take stuff out and pray Moe had room for it.  I had just walked up to my gate when they called to start boarding.  When I landed in Toronto and went to pick up my bags, they were no where to be found.  After waiting for 2 hours to check-in to my next flight, I finally learned that my luggage was already waiting for me!  Here is a picture from my flight to Toronto.  The clouds were beautiful.

While at the Toronto airport, I got my first Iced Cappuccino from Tim Horton's and was very happy.

At the Toronto Airport they had stations set up at the gates where travelers could use Ipads.  It was the coolest thing ever.  There were literally hundreds of Ipads available for people to use all over the airport.  They were connected to the internet, had free games, and were connected to airport information as well. Also there were outlets all over so you could charge your own device if necessary!  SO COOL!  I love technology when it is used right!

The rest of my trip was smooth sailing, or flying.  My friends picked me up at the airport and planted me at home wonderfully.  I arrived to flowers, a clean house, and pictures of Chico on the wall from our housekeeper.  She is wonderful.

Moe's trip was smooth too.  He ended up sitting by a colleague on his 12 hour flight from Chicago, which is super crazy, but they had a good time.  And all of our stuff made it safe and sound too!  

School has begun already. I am super busy, but it is good.  We have already had 8 days of school! My 14 kids are wonderful and will be great.  I love getting to start fresh with a new group of students and having old students stop by after school or on breaks to visit.  I love teaching.  I am also coaching middle school volleyball again.  This year we are having a girls team and a boys team rather than co-ed, so I am coaching both.  It is interesting thats for sure!  We have a good time though.  

I am already reminded of why I am here and how much I love being here.  Things are great, even though it is sometimes busy and stressful. I love my life! and I am sooo blessed.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

One more week in America

Well I officially have less than a week left in America this round.  I havent blogged much because I have been sooo busy with all kinds of fun stuff.  Matt finally joined me a few days later than planned, but we are glad he is here.  Here are some pictures from some of our adventures.

We went putt-putting with friends and family in Alpena
A ship wreck tour in Lake Huron (I think) near Alpena. 
Lots of soaking up the sun!!
My friends and I went to a Plain White T's & Goo Goo Dolls concert.  We had a blast!

We also went to the beach in South Haven - at Lake Michigan 
I have been spending lots of time with family and friends.  We have been playing games, sharing stories, comparing life experiences!  I love spending time with the people I love and making more memories, but I wish we were taking more pictures! This week will be even more exciting with a family wedding and lots of family time.  I cant wait to share this time with them.

But honestly I am ready to go.  (Sorry mom!) I think a lot of it has to do with my job.  I havent been able to spend any time on my work things this summer. And that is starting to wear on me. I have so much to do! Also, I am ready to be back to a normal routine and not living out of suitcases. I fly out of Columbus at 6am on Sunday and then go to Toronto and Seoul and finally Chiang Mai.  I will land in Chiang Mai at 10:50pm (local time) I believe on Monday.

Monday, June 30, 2014

It feels like I never left

Honestly that is how I feel, like I never left.  While some things have changed, many things are the same and still natural.  And this honestly surprises me a little bit. I tried to stay in touch with people and things in order to feel like nothing has changed, but I guess I assumed it would. For example, I still like the same things. I still remember how to get around places. I still know how to drive a car and choose places to eat.  I still know how to do laundry and wash the dishes ;) And of course I still like finding good deals and shopping at Target!

But there are definitely things that are different. Or things that I have done once and realized are part of my other life.  Also, there are experiences I have had that I have been happy about that make me realize that they are not part of my other life too.  For example, the wind. My parents house has quite the breeze fairly constantly.  I have realized that Chiang Mai has very little wind.  Also the clouds are different, but I only noticed because I thought the clouds were very pretty and a friend looked at me and said... thats normal! Some other things that I have done that arent for this life is attempt to turn down the wrong side of the road - no one was around so dont worry.  I tried to put my arm out to signify that my mom was getting over and I hit the window instead.  I am amazed at all the options of cereal or at McDonalds how vast the menu is.

I find myself happier with strangers too. In Thailand everyone is so nice and welcoming and happy that I have become that way too. I notice that people dont expect it from me here and it is kinda fun.  Also I have realized that when I am in Thailand, "back home" refers to America and when I am in America "back home" refers to Thailand.  That is neat. Experiencing multiple cultures is fun.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Travelling and arrival

As I am sure you all know I made it safely to America.  My travelling was fairly uneventful.  I was awake most of the first flight to Seoul and I slept about half of the 13 hours to Toronto.  I was able to happily watch 4 movies on the flights and ate way too much.  Korean Air does not want you to be hungry thats for sure!  

In Toronto I had a good 6 hour layover so I was in no rush.  It was a good thing too because I had a long way to go, to find my connecting gate, and a long line of customs to go through.  I was not prepared to go through customs for the US in Toronto but I did. Thankfully everyone could speak to me in English and give me amazing directions multiple times! It was so nice.  

But then it got a little different.  My flight for Columbus was very small on Air Canada.  My gate was at the not so good part of the airport.  At this one wing of the aiport there were about 6 gates right on top of each other with very limited seating and they all were scheduled to depart about the same time. It was chaos.  Plus, all of the gates went to the same spot so it could have been very confusing.  Every time I began the next step I verified my destination.  Boarding pass - to Columbus right?  Turn towards this plane - to Columbus right?  Sit on the plane - to Columbus right?  My plane was so small that I had to walk on the tarmac (i think its called) to get to the plane.  There were 9 rows with 2 on each side of the aisle. The last row had 5 seats in it with no aisle, similar to a van might!  It was so strange.  

In Columbus, we again had to walk on the tarmac and up the back stairs to reach the normal airport part.  My international travels had not prepared me to not go through customs or to be part of all the other people right away.  I stopped at the bathroom on my way to baggage claim and burned my hands on the surprisingly hot water.  I then kept walking to baggage claim down this long hall.  Coming into view was a man that looked familiar, but I was not anticipating it being my dad!! I thought I still had lots to do before I met my family.  Then I see my mom and brothers behind. It was such a joyous reunion...I sound so silly, but it really was a treasure! 

Anyway, I would have a picture to share with you, of my really small plane, but that brings me to my next point.   Yesterday while out shopping with my mother, I lost my wallet and phone.  I am very bummed about this. I had just gotten a new drivers license on Monday and was going to get my phone reactivated yesterday when I could no longer find it.  I then called my bank and a charge had been made that day that I did not do.  So I suspended my card and filed a police report.  Thankfully I caught it and can get the charge taken away probably.  I'm sad to lose my phone, my nice wallet, and everything but I just have to remember that these things happen sometimes.

Aside from that, being Stateside has been wonderful. I love spending time with my family and helping them move and settle into their beautiful new home.  We have been very busy with that so I think I am over jet-lag!  I didnt really experience it much because I have been so busy and then so exhausted by bedtime.  

Hopefully soon I get a new device so I can take photos to capture my amazing time here and share it with the world! ;)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Before my departure

Well folks I am about to head to the airport to begin my journey to America.  Honestly I am kinda nervous.  I think it stems from the fact that today wasnt a great day, but sorta a bummer of one.  It rained a fair bit which messed up some of my plans.  I went to pick up pants I was having tailor made and they werent right.  And other stuff not worth mentioning made my day so-so.

Nervousness has set in.  I am nervous to fly for the first time by myself.  I am nervous about all the immigration and customs stuff I have to deal with.  Nervous about being bored during my 6 hour layover in Toronto.  Nervous about culture shock when I return.  Nervous about relationships not being the same as I expect them to be.  Nervous about it all.

But I am gonna try to stay positive.  I get to watch all the movies I want on the planes.  I get to see my family in a little more than 24 hours.  I get to people watch.  I get to try new foods.  I get to add another story to my tale.

Thats all I have for you now.  Maybe later I will share about my awesome week up until today!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Its finally June!!

Well May flew by.  My poor blog only had two posts but that seems to be the way things are going.  Anyway, May was super busy.  But I can finally breathe and relax. I dont know how some people finish school and leave the country or move all on the last day of school.  Our last day was Thursday; its now Saturday and I finally feel like I can relax.  I am so glad I am not heading out of here until the 14th even though I wish at times it was earlier.  My mind can relax and I dont have to stress to get everything done at once!

Let's see, what is new in my world.  Moe and I saw two movies this week: Godzilla and X-Men.  It was fun.  Going to the movies is much cheaper here, only 300 baht which is about 10 dollars for both of us! (right that is still cheaper?)  I keep saying things to people about America and then realize I havent been there for 2 years, I could be completely out of the loop!  Oh well.

I have finished my second year of teaching and it was wonderful. But I will say I am glad to be done.  My class was great and I will miss them, but for now its nice to be rid of them ;) Next year I am staying in 4th grade and will be the Head of my Department! ha. I feel silly saying that because I only have 2 years experience, but the other 2 people who are staying dont want to do it, so I got elected. It will be interesting to have so many new people next year!

The last Monday of school we took the fourth graders to a minigolf place and they loved it, for the most part. It was quite hot, so that part wasnt cool.  Plus it was concrete and not grass, so that made it harder, but I didnt hear much complaining!  It was a bit stressful for us teachers though, but the kids loved it enough that we will probably do it again! Here is my favorite picture from the day:

A reason (that isnt completely a reason but a good excuse!) of why I didnt blog was because we didnt have internet for a few days.  Moe and I went out together on the motorbike and I snagged these few pictures of what was happening.  Bamboo ladders and tons of wire is the Thai way!

Another reason why I havent been blogging is because of the political turmoil and the rumors of shutting down social media and what not.  So heres the deal.  Thailand is in a coup.  It probably will be for the next few months to a year.  What does that mean for us.  Soldiers are more prominent in many places here in town and in the country.  Initially there were protests, even in Chiang Mai, and things happening in multiple areas.  It now seems like that is limited only to certain parts of Bangkok.  A curfew was in effect for the whole country from 10pm to 5am for a few weeks but now is only from 12am to 4am, excluding airport travel and other necessities.  Even this curfew has been taken off of tourist beach destinations like Phuket and Krabi, and many others.  It will probably stay in effect here because there were some protests in the beginning. We did lose Facebook for a whole hour but that most likely wont happen again and I doubt any bit of the internet will be censored.

Last week was the first time that I saw soldiers in town, though I will say I purposely avoided areas that would have had them earlier.  They were relaxing under tents and enjoying themselves.  Many tourists have taken pictures with them and they seem very friendly.  Today I went to the market and some of the soldiers were putting on a show, while other soldiers clapped and danced and took pictures in the audience.  It is definitely not a scary thing to see soldiers here in Chiang Mai.

Lastly, I will share this terrible picture of me at the market with sweat stained face, a mango shake, and "potato chips" (a potato thinly sliced and fried!), solely because they were delicious and you should be jealous you didnt have one!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My Productive Saturday

Moe is on a "field trip" with his school for the next few days. He had little information to go on, so I cant really fill you in.  Such is the Thai way.  Here's what I do know.  He will be gone for 5 days.  He is going to Mae Sot, which is northern jungle-y Thailand.  He is going with upper and lower classmen, so more than just his class. It is in preparation for his research thesis, potentially, and hopefully, teaching him how to research and go about it in the jungle and providing some connections.  I have not heard from him since he left early Friday morning, so I have to trust that all is well.

Since I have no one to talk to, and no Chico doesnt count, I thought I would blog about my productive day.

First, I slept in, because of course that is the basis for all productivity.  It helped that it was raining and totally encouraging me to sleep longer.  Then I had breakfast and watched some shows and what not and got ready for the busy day.

I went to pay our internet bill because I did not want to lose internet while hubby was away.  While I was out, I investigated the possibility of having a tailor fix some dress pants.  There is a road that has about 6 tailors right in a line. I knew of 2 tailors that were recommended by other people, but could only find the one.  I went in and asked if he could tailor my pants.  He asked me to try them on and show him what needed fixed. I did and then asked how much to fix them.  50 baht was his response.  WHAT? That is less than 2 dollars. I was so shocked that I said "Great! Do it!"  (I probably could have talked him down a bit, but I was so shocked that I forgot about that part until I had left).  Then I asked when they would be done and he said 7pm that night!

Then I went window shopping for some gifts to bring home, but didnt find anything I liked.  Speaking of which, if anyone has any requests for items to bring from Thailand let me know!

Next, I had leftovers for lunch. Pulled pork sandwich. Chico had the leftovers that had fallen out because I forgot about it when I got up.  I know, I know you want to know that I was headed to the potty, so I wasnt really thinking about my plate sitting there.

After lunch I watched some shows and then read a few chapters from the book I am reading.  Then I sorted through my clothes because I was going to a clothing swap.  I filled my backpack and another bag of clothes I dont wear or I dont like. It was awesome.

Then I went to the swap and mingled with people and grabbed only a few clothes.  I tried not to get too many since I hope to get new clothes this summer!  I am very happy with the 5 things that I got though!

I came back home, watched more shows, read a little more, cooked dinner, got Chico dinner, etc.  Then I headed back out to get my freshly tailored pants.  While on my way, I stopped to window shop at a night market and ended up purchasing a small item and getting prices for some other items I plan to get soon.

When I picked up my pants, he had me try them on again to make sure they fit and all was well.  The pants were perfect.  I asked him how much it would cost to have a pair of pants just like that made and he said 1000 baht or roughly 33 dollars.  He said he could make capris too and showed me some swatches of colors I could choose from. I asked how long it would take and he said they would be done by tomorrow night! BAH! I am sSOOOOOO mad I did not investigate this sooner.  All year I have been complaining about how bad my pants fit me and I could have easily gotten them fixed! Now I know. And you know.  So if you need clothes made or tailored and you are visiting us, DO IT!! Its totally worth it!

For the rest of the night, I plan to read, watch shows, and grade some papers... Im sure you get the idea by now.  Hopefully I can be this productive the entire time Moe is gone...

Thanks for listening!  :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fish Spa and Earthquakes!

In the past 2 days I have had 2 brand new experiences:  a fish spa and feeling an earthquake.

First the earthquake because... well duh.  Moe and I were standing in the kitchen cooking dinner.  Things started to shake. I wasnt sure if it was construction or what.  But it kept going for a few seconds before we picked up Chico and walked quickly outside realizing it was definitely an earthquake.  Outside we saw almost all of our neighbors that we have never seen before! I would guess it lasted a minute or so and Moe guesses that it was about a 3 something on the scale.  We could see the cars out front shaking a little bit too.  It literally just happened so I will update once the internet tells us what really happened.

EDIT:  Apparently it was a 6.0 magnitude earthquake.  The link here has more information.  We are about 3 hour drive south from Chiang Rai.

The other cool thing we did this weekend was a fish spa.  I dont know if this is special to Thailand or Asia or not, so please enlighten me if it isnt.  But here they have these tanks of fish that sit on the floor and people pay to put their feet in the water and have the fish sucked on.  Apparently the fish scrub off the dead skin cells and help improve blood circulation and skin elasticity (said the sign!).

Moe and I had wanted to do this for awhile and since we were out with friends and nothing to do, we decided to try it. I must confess that I am WAAAAAY too ticklish for this to be incredibly enjoyable.  But Moe loved it.  I am actually quite proud that I lasted the whole 20 minutes, but I had to stick my feet to the bottom of the tank so the fish couldn't touch the bottom of my feet.

They loved Moe's feet

Enjoying ourselves!

Afterward, though we all felt like we had incredibly clean feet.  It is definitely something you should try at least once in your life!

PS Three day weekends are the best!!! Only 5 more weeks of school!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Koh Chang Vacation Final Part!

Koh Chang is a relatively under-developed island compared to many in Thailand.  Natural forests and beaches are prevalent.  Many areas along the beach are still trees.  It also is very hilly/mountainy (which I already established was a word).  It makes driving challenging, but makes for amazing views and beautiful scenery.  We loved the naturalness of the island.  

Our hotel in Koh Chang was beautiful.  It was right on the beach, and a private peaceful beach at that.  It had a nice restaurant and pool.  It was about 200 bucks for 4 nights :)  Moe and I thoroughly enjoyed waking up and falling asleep to the sounds of the waves.  We loved walking the beach and exploring the town.  We truly enjoyed our vacation!

Another wonderful thing that we did was get massages right beside the waves.  Our hotel had a spa service about 20 feet from the waves.  We got back and shoulder massages that was unbelievably amazing.  It was one of the highlights of the trip for both of us!  Just to rub it in a little more, it was only about 15 dollars total!  
It was so nice to relax.  We loved to sit at the pool in nice chairs but still be able to look at the beach and the waves.  It was great to be able to throw the Frisbee in the ocean and then go relax in the pool.  We definitely relaxed (when we werent trying to avoid Songkraners at least!).  It was bliss.  Most of our meals contained fresh seafood and we sat for almost an hour enjoying the conversation, the views, and the foods.  Im ready to go back!

View from restaurant first night. 

beautiful beaches

the pool looking back to our hotel. 

the chairs we sat at and enjoyed the view.  love this!

view from dinner night 2

dinner date :)

being silly
One night we dressed up a little to go out to a "fancy" Italian restaurant. I use fancy in quotation marks because its Thailand so its not that fancy.  It was outside as well.  But it was a great date.  Also it was nice to be able to go into town dressed nicely and not be afraid of getting soaked.  We verified that Songkran was over before we went on this exploration!
picture at the hotel 
restaurant sign

pretty chandelier

Moe and his 4-cheese ravioli and beer

my lasagna and sprite
Pictures before we left at 6am...ugh...but it was still beautiful!

my great travel companion!

The bus ride and flight back home were fairly uneventful which was nice after such an exciting trip.  I was super burnt on my back though so I was uncomfortable most of the time.  Our bus driver was CRAZY weaving in and out of cars, turning and U-turning on red to beat the lights, speeding like crazy.  One of our fellow travellers said that he was "driving like a fish flopping around all over the place".  I found that simile quite exact!  Although we left the beach at 6am we did not get back to our house until 10pm.  The bus trips and our flights did not align so we spent many hours reading at the airport, which wasnt bad.

Overall it was a great trip.  If there werent so many beaches in Thailand we would consider going back, but why go to the same place multiple times when you can go to new places ;)  But if you are ever in Thailand and want an adventurous beach vacation, I highly recommend Koh Chang!