Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer updates

This has been embarrassing how long I have neglected my blog.  Especially since we live overseas and I have so many interesting and different things that I want to share.  Yet "normal" life takes over and I get busy with working and Millie has homework and we still need to figure out when to do laundry and cook dinner....  But I did want to share just a few of our photos from our month long trip to Germany this summer.  Millie charmed our flight attendant and she whisked Millie away for part of the trip, dressed her in part of the uniform and even got the co-pilot to come out and bring Millie upstairs to view first class on Emirates. (Millie had been very sick for most of the flight due to her flying anxiety, but we finally got her to smile when we landed.)
Hiking through the forest in Germany!
It was wonderful to be visiting Oma and Opa.  We definitely needed some adjusting to the unusually cool temperatures in June.
But then it warmed it and we spent many times visiting the lake just a short bike ride away from my mom's house.  I love Germany, because they always have beer and delicious food being served whether you are hiking in the middle of the forest or at a small lake in town, anywhere out and about...there is always good, quality hot cooked meals nearby. Mike and I would ride bicycles around through the corn fields and farms and all of a sudden come upon a small restaurant serving a nice, hearty meal!
Speaking of food, here we are at another restaurant in town.  This one became our favorite.  Mike had his infamous pork knuckles at this place.  Meat, beer, potatoes=heaven!
Europe, especially Germany, has the best bicycle paths I've ever seen.  You can get on a path anywhere and it seems to connect all over the country.  You can get anywhere so easily on a bike and never have to really go on the road. 
Millie even celebrated her 9th birthday in Germany.  Seems like a long time ago now.  Now it is September.  School started at CMIS way back in the beginning of August.  I am teaching first grade this year and so happy about that.  This year has been so much more rewarding. I love this grade.  Here I am on the first day when it was chaos and crowds, nervous parents, children and teachers.  Can you believe that we have been at school for 6 full weeks now!!!  I barely remember anything I did that first week. 

Millie on the first day meeting up with old friends. She is in fourth grade now. There are two classes for every grade.  She had 17 kids in her class. I am lucky and only have 14 in my first grade class.  That has been a dream!
But now we are ready to start the 7th week of school and are in the thick of our schedules and homework and staff meetings, etc.  But of course, we can't complain.  We still take time to explore Chiang Mai, go out with friends, shop for cool stuff, attempt to speak Thai (get laughed at a lot) and enjoy good Thai food.  PS-the dog is not ours, but is always over "visiting."  He is here making sure Millie gets her schoolwork done.  I will post more often.  Getting ready to take some photos of my classroom next. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Our home in Chiang Mai

I am long overdue for a new post on our blog, so this month I decided to post about our home.  We live in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I teach preschool (and in August I upgrade to my favorite level-first grade!) Everyday Millie and I ride our motorbike to school.  It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to travel the 3 miles to school in the morning and again in the afternoon.  (Yes, it's a lot of traffic and stop lights along the way and crazy drivers. )  Here is our car (that has no AC and is the opposite of a smooth, pleasant ride...) parked in front of our lovely home. 
We live on the corner of a dead end road, so there is not so much traffic going past our house.  They have been building a house down the road for 10 months now and are still not finished, but construction can be a slow process here.  They have also started to build a sidewalk along the small river at the end of this road.  That will be great to walk along in the evenings.
This is the view of the road when we get on our bikes to leave our moobaan (subdivision).  We have lots of little food and fruit stands around the corner along the main road, a lady selling rotee (think crepes with bananas and sweetened condensed milk poured all over it.  Delicious!), a swimming pool, big grocery store and a 7-Eleven (which is so much better than the ones in the US.  I love them here! That's where you can go to pay all your bills!)
Our calm and sheltered sitting area.  I spend many a morning here sipping coffee and reading a magazine.

Our "western" style kitchen.  Most Thai kitchens are outside and would never come with a oven!  Although at this point, I would love an outside kitchen for cooking. You can't imagine how this room heats up as you cook in temperatures already in the high 90s.  But this is a great addition to our house and in the cool season, I baked many a banana bread here. Mike even prepared a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner (with a roasted chicken vs. turkey, ham or goose....)
Other side of the kitchen looking towards the slider windows that lead to the dining/living room.
I am so happy with our living room.  We sit here to watch tv, read, drink (after a hard day at work) and play games.  Let me tell you, it does get hot.  I don't know any house here that has central AC, so most homes only have an AC unit in the bedrooms.  It can get quite hot sitting on our plush couch watching tv, but I have come to appreciate fans more than ever!
Mike pretending to be busy on the computer in our eating area. 
Front view of our living room.  Yeah for fans!
This is a third bedroom/office room.  It is the messiest room in the house since it also stores our luggage and the boxes of the items we have bought here. 
This is Millie's very cute room.  She spends lots of time on her Kindle here, drawing on her little Japanese desk on the floor there or playing with the many toys we brought from the U.S.  Thailand is still pretty cheap, but children's toys can be 10 times the price here.  Example-Lego set I saw on amazon for $23, the same one being sold here was going for $130.  Sadly, something to do with import tax. 
Our bedroom.
Yes, I even took a photo of our bathroom.  This is a very nice bathroom for being in Thailand.  It even comes with a bathtub which is quite rare. 
Our side yard where we like to play badminton, and admire our many orchids.  We have several mango trees in the yard too which I did not realize continually shed leaves all year long, so I get to rake here too.  That would be more fun in cooler weather, I believe. 
Finally, this is our front driveway to the house. We park our motorbikes and bicycles here.  The hammock is my relaxing area in the cooler seasons. Getting ready for taxes, I added up all our bills.  Although many items are expensive here in town, the food, clothes, markets and cost of living is still amazingly cheap.  We pay $5.93/month for our house phone. Our electric bill (averaging all the AC usage, etc) is still only about $62.28/month.  Our cable tv (40 channels or so with at least 12 in english) is $10.60/month.  Water is $5.82/month.  Our internet is $19 and rent is $363.63/month for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a nice yard.  We have only a few random geckos scurrying up the walls inside the house and we have just started battling ants, but it's under control and normal for life in Asia.  Our washing machine is kept outside in the back of the house and everyone I know, hangs up their laundry to dry on racks.   We are very happy in our home.