Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another 1st!

August 1st...I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some recent special firsts. First of all, it was our joy to welcome our Corpus Christi neighbors, Doug and Georgene, as our first guests from home. As I was waiting for their plane to arrive, I realized this was the first time I'd ever been to the Bangkok airport to meet someone...very exciting and I can't wait until the next time!

The picture above was taken the second evening our friends were with us, but it was the first time any of us had been to a restaurant where they give you condoms rather than after dinner mints! The restaurant, Cabbages and Condoms, is a one of a kind Bangkok Thai restaurant that donates a percentage of their profits to population control and AIDS charities. Be sure to check out my Shutterfly album for some pictures of artistic uses of condoms.

Doug and Georgene both enjoyed the view of the Chao Phraya River from the terrace of the Oriental Hotel. This 128-year old hotel is one of the most famous hotels in all of Asia and the first of it's kind in Bangkok. At the time of it's construction, it was the most impressive building not constructed by the king.

High that was truly a memorable first for Sam and me! We celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in the Author's Lounge of the Oriental. This original wing of the hotel was an oasis of Victorian charm with it's white wicker furniture, sepia photos of King Chulalongkorn, and guitar soloist. We all enjoyed it so much that Sam promised that it wouldn't be our last visit here. In fact, we can't wait for our next guests to come so that we can share this special Bangkok tradition once again. Be sure to let us know when you'll be arriving, and we'll gladly reserve a room for you in our Bann Jamjuree B&B!

P.S. I've been busy working on our Shutterfly account and am once again up to date with pictures. Yeah! If you'd like to take a look, simply click on the link to the right.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Do I Make You Proud?

In memory of Dad. This picture was taken
the morning of my wedding, July 30, 1977.

Life in Bangkok, as I know it, is resuming a more normal pattern for which I'm thankful. Anyone who knows Sam and me, knows that we both tend to thrive on routine. For me, part of that routine is teaching.

I've just finished my 2nd full week of teaching English to pre-K and K students out at the Klong Toey center. They're such a sweet energetic group of little ones. Our major accomplishment of the past 2 weeks is mastering the new phrase, "I'm hungry" has so much more meaning to them than, "I'm fine."

How I wish I could share this little update with my dad as he always enjoyed hearing about what was happening in my life and would have gotten such a kick out of vicariously travelling with me through this part of the world. It's hard to believe that it was just 2 years ago yesterday that I had my last conversation with him, and even harder to believe that one of the thoughts I shared was assuring him that it was O.K. to die. Today, I find myself wrestling with thoughts like, "What was I thinking?" or " Why didn't I try pleading with him to keep fighting?" But I know in my heart that the truth is, it wasn't about me, nor should it have been. It was about honoring Dad's tremendous courage by helping him to have the peace of knowing that I respected his wishes and also trusted his judgement. It's my hope and prayer that my response then, and my life today makes him proud.

Father's Day thoughts I wrote to share with Dad years ago...still true today.

Sacrificially Loving...
Quietly Teaching...
Gently Pushing...
me to be the me,
I want to be.
Always there...
Always in my heart...
My Dad.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Our girlies celebrating at the park.
Looking refreshed after our 2 mile hike in the rain!

This truly was a most memorable 4th of July, my first ever to celebrate outside of the good ol' U.S.A. Our plans were to go to the Great American Rib company for dinner as they had advertised a special celebration. Well, as the saying laid plans! Our driver was sick, so we took the skytrain and walked about a 1/2 mile. Just as we got there, the sky opened up and it began to pour monsoon style. It was then that we discovered that not only was this an open air restaurant, covered only by a tarp like ceiling, but that since we didn't have reservations, we weren't able to join their party. Anyway....long story! The short version is that Sam and I waded home laughing all the way! We had no other option....couldn't hop in a taxi soaking wet, couldn't walk into another restaurant... Our only choice was to enjoy the moment, which we did. How awesome of God to provide a display of heavenly fireworks that we won't soon forget!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy 75th Birthday, Mom!

Mother's Day came and went and I didn't share my excuse for procrastination was no time. After all, I was heading home to the states in 3 short days. Then came, June 30th, Mom's 75th birthday, and once again, I let a special opportunity to try and express my heartfelt gratitude for her beautiful selfless life slip through my fingers. Maybe it's best that I'm writing...or at least trying to write...this tribute on just an ordinary day because really and truly, it's on these ordinary days when I'm doing ordinary things that I'm mindful of Mom in a special way and reminded of how blessed I am to be this amazing lady's daughter.

Up front I'd like to confess that the real reason for my procrastination has nothing to do with lack of time, but rather everything to do with an irritating personality trait of perfectionism. Truly, I realize the limits of my own writing ability and know that there's no way to adequately put into words the admiration, appreciation, and love that I feel...kind of like the lyrics from The Sound of Music...How do you catch a wave and pin it down? The task is impossible, but today I'm refusing to accept that as an excuse and choosing instead to at least try.

Daily, I admit that I'm in awe. "How does Mom do it?" is a question I've asked myself over and over and after much pondering think the answer is really not that difficult. The truth is that Mom has always chosen, and still chooses today, to live the life of a mind is flooded with waaaaay too many examples to share in this blog! However, I'd like to elaborate on just a few to illustrate my point, and more importantly, to honor Mom by letting her know that buried in the hearts of her family and friends are treasure chests overflowing with memories of her loving kindness and thoughtful ways.

One of the examples that has been dear to me over the years is the way in which Mom sacrificially gave years of time to her children's schools as a volunteer. As both a mom and teacher, I know that having parents willing to be involved in the life of a school can make a tremendous difference. Even though there never seems to be enough hours in the day to take care of all of life's responsibilities, Mom never used this as an excuse for not helping. In fact, she not only volunteered at the schools, but also with scouts, little leagues, Job's Daughters, children's theatre, and a multitude of other activities. Makes me tired just thinking about it! Did I say that I was in awe?

Anyone who has been married for a number of years, knows that in order to nurture your relationship, you must be a servant... regularly placing your spouse's needs and wants before your own. Being a parent also requires the same sort of our family, this sacrifice was x's 7! Needless to say, I'm totally in awe at Mom's ability to love us all so much that she was able to give, and give, and give, even when it meant that she went without...without sleep, without new clothes..., without even time to call her own. Mom and Dad were married for 54 for years before Dad passed away. During their last 11 or so years together, Dad suffered from kidney failure and all the bad stuff that came with it. It's always given me and continues to give me great peace knowing that during their most difficult times, Mom was right there caring for and lovingly serving Dad in ways I'll never fully comprehend, but for which I'll forever be grateful.

In choosing a last example, I'm remembering my recent visit home. During this visit, I was treated to several precious moments spent with Mom's friends. First, there was the next door neighbor, a little boy not more than 5 or 6, who just came over to talk :) Apparently, he and Mom along with some other little girls in the neighborhood all exchange love letters and little gifts like freshly baked cookies and holiday treats. Then, there were Mom's new friends from the Camarillo House who shared how much they enjoy Mom and her caring ways. Finally, there was our special lunch with Mom's dearest high school friends, my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Simon, who always bless me by reminding me of how much they love and appreciate Mom. All of these friends have richer lives because of.....

Mom, a beautiful woman whom I'm very proud of.... not perfect, just excellent, and forever a blessing in my life!
Happy Birthday, Mom!

I'm not entirely sure of whom my blog readers are, but if per chance Mom has touched your life in a special way and you'd like to join me in honoring her with your thoughts, please feel free to comment.